Bravery under fire
The British Government annually buys about 3000 horses in Britain. Most come from Ireland, which is also the largest producer of first- class hunters and steeplechasers. Last year Ireland exported 10,000 horses, of which 6000 were sold for military purposes. During 1913, Britain exported 17,000 horses, exclusive of the poor, worn- out brutes shipped to Continental butchers. The annual export of horses from Australia amounts to about 6000. Attention is called to an advertisement in this issue whereby males are urged to qualify as [ ambulance] bearers, and women as competent nurses by attending at the Ambulance Centre this evening. One of the volunteers who left Townsville by the Bingera on Monday for Enoggera was a returned soldier named Frank Wilson. He served with the 36th Battalion and was wounded in the hand, the little finger of one hand being left doubled up and useless. Before he could be accepted again for service, he had to have this finger removed by operation and the wound has now just sufficiently healed to allow him to get away. The annual picnic of the Mundingburra State School was held last Saturday when about 700 souls journeyed by train to Margaret’s Creek, Cormarty, some 23 miles down the Ayr line. Weather conditions were ideal. Sports and games numerous and varied. The apple- eating contest would have made a splendid subject for the movies. The ladies’ race was won by Mrs Connelly ( Magnetic Island) and the men’s by Mr C Fardon, assistant teacher at the Mundingburra School. The Magnetic Island and Ross Schools were guests for the day. Veteran Catholic priest Tom Gard is remembered after his death in 1993 for his bravery under fire while an AIF chaplain in the Siege of Tobruk FATHER Tom Gard was remembered after his death in 1993, aged 83, as a war hero and `` all things to all people’’ as a Catholic priest.
He died suddenly on July 21, 1993, in Proserpine, having served 60 years as a priest, including a chaplaincy with the 2/ 4 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion in World War II.
Ingham- born Fr Gard had reached out to all, regardless of status, culture and creed, Townsville Catholic diocese spokesman Father Michael Mullins told the Townsville Bulletin on July 24, 1993.
In 1945, he had been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for gallantry under fire, recognition of his part in rescuing Australian casualties during the siege of Tobruk, on August 3, 1941.
Details of the rescue mission were first reported by the Bulletin on September 8, 1941, based on a letter home from Major R J Wheeler, a former Perth medical practitioner serving with the Rats of Tobruk.
`` Fr Gard’s act of bravery occurred during shell fire which was so severe that stretcher bearers could not venture out to bring in wounded in a truck marked with the Red Cross,’’ the Bulletin reported.
``[ He] drove out into the thick of the fray and went right in to the German lines on his errand of mercy.
`` The enemy recognised his feat of bravery, held their fire, enabled and assisted him to gather in the wounded. They gave him a cigarette, let him have a rest and guarded him safely back to the British lines, where he arrived with his truck filled with wounded.’’
Later accounts also gave credit to Fr Gard’s comrades, Private Keith Pope — for driving the truck — and Sergeant Wally Tuit for standing on the bonnet with an unfurled Red Cross flag, while Fr Gard stood on a running board.
Melbourne Herald journalist H. I. Marshall wrote in 1945 that in fact Fr Gard had offered a cigarette to a German officer while persuading him to let them pick up the dead and injured.
The adventurous priest, then aged 31, had been evacuated with dysentery a month a later, then rejoined the battalion in Syria, had been present at the battle of El Alamein, returned to Australia with the Ninth Division and took part in the New Guinea campaign during 1943 and ` 44.
`` Tommy Gard was a bit different from what the troops may have imagined the Sky Pilot would be,’’ Marshall wrote. `` They soon found a quality in his Christianity that only started with church parades and spiritual welfare and that knew no denominational limit.
`` True, a rugby footballer was wasted on a South Australian battalion — he nearly killed himself and a couple of others when he tried to master Australian Rules — but a batsman and change bowler of his ability always had uses. He became captain of the battalion cricket team, and opening bat.’’
Chaplain Tom Gard, far right, with members of the 2/ 43rd AIF Battalion Regimental Aid Post, western desert, Egypt, July 30, 1942.