War hero re­mem­bered

Milne Bay vet­eran passes away, one of the last left

The Chronicle - - News - TOM GILLE­SPIE tom.gille­spie@thechron­i­cle.com.au

GOR­DON Ed­wards won the Mil­i­tary Medal for his courage and brav­ery on the Solomon Is­lands in World War II – not that he told many peo­ple that fact.

“We were mar­ried be­fore I knew he’d been awarded a Mil­i­tary Medal,” his widow Mar­garet joked.

One of the last re­main­ing mem­bers of the 25th Bat­tal­ion that served at the Bat­tle of Milne Bay and in the Bougainville cam­paign passed away last month, aged 98.

Mr Ed­wards, a Roma man un­til his death, served in the Pa­cific from 1942 un­til the end of the war, train­ing at Cabar­lah be­fore be­ing shipped over to Pa­pua New Guinea.

As part of the 25th Bat­tal­ion, made up of men from Toowoomba and the Dar­ling Downs, Mr Ed­wards saw con­flict at both Milne Bay in 1942 and in sev­eral parts of Bougainville.

He earned the Mil­i­tary Medal for his ac­tions dur­ing the Bat­tle of Slater’s Knoll in March 1945, which was de­scribed on his com­men­da­tion slip as “ex­treme courage at Buin Rd”.

As Mrs Ed­wards de­scribed it, her hus­band was re­spon­si­ble for with­stand­ing a Ja­panese at­tack on an Aus­tralian post with a ma­chine gun af­ter a mor­tar se­ri­ously wounded the gun­ner.

‘‘ HIS FOR­MER COM­MAND­ING OF­FI­CER ONCE TOLD HIM THAT HE SAVED THE LIVES OF A LOT OF MEN.

MAR­GARET ED­WARDS

She said Mr Ed­wards’ ac­tions saved sev­eral lives, as his su­pe­ri­ors told him years later.

“The fel­low on the ma­chine gun hurt his arm and so he took over the ma­chine gun,” Mrs Ed­wards said.

“They were swarm­ing out­side, and Gor­don had to ex­pose his head to re­turn fire.

“Gor­don was for­tu­nate that he’d learnt a bit about (the gun) and he could see no­body was on it, so he stayed with his eyes on where the Ja­panese were com­ing from.

“His for­mer com­mand­ing of­fi­cer once told him (at a re­union) that he saved the lives of a lot of men.”

The 25th Bat­tal­ion earned seven bat­tle hon­ours dur­ing the con­flict in the South Pa­cific, but prob­a­bly its most fa­mous bat­tle was at Milne Bay.

The con­flict was de­scribed as the first ma­jor ground vic­tory for the Al­lies against the Ja­panese dur­ing World War II and the area was used as a base for Amer­i­can and Aus­tralian forces.

More than 200 peo­ple at­tended Mr Ed­ward’s fu­neral in Roma on Oc­to­ber 19.

Photo: Elvine Stu­dios

BRAV­ERY: Roma res­i­dent and Milne Bay vet­eran Gor­don Ed­wards passed away last month, aged 98.

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