Re­mem­ber­ing the Lonely An­zac 100 years on

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk @Peter­bor­ough­Tel

“Amongst the de­stroy­ing mu­sic, he must have hoped for a lul­laby when he landed in the Somme.”

With hind­sight we know these words to be trag­i­cally mis­taken, but 100 years ago Sergeant Thomas Hunter could hardly have re­alised that by es­cap­ing the bat­tle­fields of Gal­lipoli, fate would de­liver him an­other hor­rid hand in north­ern France.

Sgt Hunter, a miner in New South Wales, Aus­tralia, en­listed with the Aus­tralian and New Zealand Army Corps (AN­ZAC) in 1914, but hav­ing sur­vived the bloody Gal­lipoli land­ings he was shot in the spine at Pozieres dur­ing the Bat­tle of the Somme.

Brought back to Blighty, he was on his way to Hal­i­fax when his con­di­tion de­te­ri­o­rated and the train he was on stopped at Peter­bor­ough where he was taken to the hos­pi­tal, only to die

is story touched the hearts of many in the city, and 100 years on from the day of his death Peter­bor­ough con­tin­ued to pay trib­ute to one of the many mil­lions of he­roes of the First World War who gave up their to­day for our to­mor­row

Much time may have passed since the Lonely AN­ZAC’s pass­ing, and the hos­pi­tal in Pri­est­gate may now be the city’s mu­seum, but Peter­bor­ough’s af­fec­tion and rev­er­ence for Sgt Hunter re­mains firmly in­tact.

A ser­vice held in the city cen­tre on Sun­day was at­tended by grate­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Aus­tralia (both mil­i­tary and civil­ian) who were ex­tremely touched that one of their sons con­tin­ues to be hon­oured in such fine fash­ion.

Ma­jor-Gen­eral Neil Wil­son, rep­re­sent­ing the 10 th Bat­tal­ion A IF As­so­ci­a­tion, flew in from Aus­tralia for the ser­vice.

He said: “This is quite a re­mark­able story. We are very ap­pre­cia­tive of the sup­port of the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“The story is not very well known at all in Aus­tralia, but I will do my best to rec­tify that. It’s cer­tainly well known by the 10th Bat­tal­ion As­so­ci­a­tion.”

Hugh Burn­ham moved from Aus­tralia to Peter­bor­ough in De­cem­ber 2012 when he mar­ried Karen, and has been to the an­nual AN­ZAC cer­e­monies held in April.

He said: “I thought I would come along and pay my re­spects.

“It’s quite amaz­ing that 100 years ago when he passed away the city took him into their hearts.

“It’s touch­ing that no-one knew him but they still paid their re­spects to him.”

Squadron Leader Peter Mole, rep­re­sent­ing the Aus­tralian High Com­mis­sioner (Am­bas­sador) to the UK, said: “It was mov­ing to see so many peo­ple in­volved, par­tic­u­larly for an Aus­tralian sol­dier.”

The ser­vice be­gan at 12.15pm with a pro­ces­sion from the Town Hall in Bridge Street to Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral where a two minute si­lence was held and prayers said next to wreaths which had been laid out.

A ser­vice was then held at 1 pm at the war memo­rial with speeches from the Mayor of Peter­bor­ough Coun­cil­lor David San­ders and Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gil­lian Beasley.

Mrs Beasley said: “The story of the Lonely AN­ZAC is poignant and mov­ing, but his death and the re­sponse to it in this city, then and now, sym­bol­ises a world that we all want to live in, uni­fied, com­pas­sion­ate and re­spect­ful.”

The poem ‘ The Lonely An­zac’ by Kee­ley Mills, from which the in­tro to this ar­ti­cle

was taken from, was read out by Char­ron Pugs­ley-Hill and Eve Mar­shall.

The pair then l aid out a blan­ket of pop­pies at the memo­rial where they were fol­lowed by dig­ni­taries and mem­bers of the pub­lic who placed­flow­ers, be­fore fur­ther prayer­swer­eread­out­byRoyal Bri­tish Le­gion Padre, Rev­erendGe­orgeRogers, andCanon Ian Black.

Sgt Hunter, who was born in New­cas­tle but em­i­grated to Aus­tralia at theageof30, wasa mem­ber of the 10th Bat­tal­ion of the10thDivi­sion of theAus­tralian army.

He was buried with full mil­i­tary hon­our­sattheBroad­way Ceme­tery, and his story had so touched the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough that a pub­lic sub­scrip­tion was raised to place a memo­rial at his grave­side - an eight foot high Celtic cross which re­mains to­day.

RonWar­den­metSgtHunter’s clos­est de­scen­dants back in 2010 af­ter mak­ing con­tact with his great nephew. He said: “He­wasthe­firstAus­tralian sol­dier who died and was buried in Eng­land I be­lieve.

“Ap­par­ently hes­till haunts the mu­seum.”

Ron heard about Sgt Hunter from a book writ­ten by John Har­vey called ‘The Lonely Ann­zac - a True Son of Em­pire’ which has now been re-pub­lished.

He de­scribed the en­thu­si­asm and gen­eros­ity of the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough as in­spir­ing.

Cllr San­ders said: “It was a good turnout.

“What I like about it is 100 years on we have still got a lot of peo­ple to pay their re­spects to the Lonely ANZACwho­had no­body.

“Peter­bor­ough should be re­ally proud.”

Words were read out af­ter the ser­vice on be­half of Sgt Hunter’s fam­ily who had can­celled a planned trip to Peter­bor­ough due to ill­ness.

They­ex­pressedtheir­grat­i­tude for the ser­vice.

Lonely AN­ZAC Memo­rial Day with a pro­ces­sion to the Cathe­dral and ser­vice at the war memo­rial.

Scenes from the fu­neral of Sgt Thomas Hunter who died in Peter­bor­ough 100 years ago.

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