War hero remembered
Milne Bay veteran passes away, one of the last left
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.
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.
BRAVERY: Roma resident and Milne Bay veteran Gordon Edwards passed away last month, aged 98.