A World War One sol­dier re­mem­bered

Mansfield Courier - - OPINIONS / PEOPLE - By PAM ZIERK-MA­HONEY

MANS­FIELD RSL will pay spe­cial trib­ute to for­mer Tolmie res­i­dent Stephen Ge­orge Facey at a re-pre­sen­ta­tion of his Bel­gium dec­o­ra­tion the Crois de Guerre on July 4.

Lt Facey was killed in ac­tion as he led a party bar­ri­cad­ing a cap­tured trench line near the vil­lage of Ville – and was buried in the Mer­ri­court – L’Abbe Com­mu­nal Ex­ten­sion, France.

As­signed to the 59th Bat­tal­ion in March 1917, Lt Facey acted with noted dis­tinc­tion at De­laux Farm dur­ing the ad­vance on the Ger­man Hin­den­burg Line at Login­court… he saw fur­ther ac­tion in May/June of 1917 at Bul­le­court and again in the 3rd Bat­tle of Ypres.

It was here that Lt Facey again acted with out­stand­ing dis­tinc­tion at Poly­gon Wood be­ing awarded a Dis­tin­guished Con­duct Medal (DCM).

Af­ter of­fi­cer train­ing and be­ing com­mis­sioned as Sec­ond Lieu­tenant, he re­turned to the bat­tal­ion in France in early 1918 and served as a Com­pany Com­man­der dur­ing the dra­matic Ger­man Of­fen­sive and re­treat of March/May.

On July 4, dur­ing the Bat­tle of Le Hamel, Lt Facey again dis­played out­stand­ing con­duct.

How­ever, it was here that he was killed in ac­tion on that day.

Lt Facey was awarded the Bel­gium Crois de Guerre (CdeG) for “con­spic­u­ous brav­ery and de­vo­tion to duty while serv­ing with the Aus­tralian Im­pe­rial Force” France and Bel­gium.

In 2015/16 Mans­field RSL held an ex­hi­bi­tion com­mem­o­rat­ing 100 years since World War I, and as part of that ex­hi­bi­tion, dis­played a large photo of Lt Facey along with his Dis­tin­guished Con­duct Medal.

De­scen­dants of the Facey fam­ily, Brian Smith and Pam Ey­ers, vis­ited that ex­hi­bi­tion and be­lieved that the Bel­gium medal should also be in the col­lec­tion, how­ever, a search for the orig­i­nal medal was fruit­less.

A replica medal was com­mis­sioned and it was sug­gested that the re-pre­sen­ta­tion of the Bel­gium medal to the RSL might pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to make this a for­mal event which would also recog­nise all 89 ser­vice per­son­nel who made the supreme sac­ri­fice.

Mans­field RSL his­to­rian Gra­ham God­ber said the project ‘A Sol­dier Re­mem­bered’ will see this an­niver­sary com­mem­o­rated at the Mans­field RSL com­menc­ing at 11am.

“It will also recog­nise the an­niver­sary of the last ma­jor bat­tle of WWI – a turn­ing point in that war which would see the armistice in Novem­ber of 1918,” Mr God­ber said.

“It is hoped that a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Bel­gium Em­bassy in Mel­bourne can at­tend to re-present the Crois de Guerre to the fam­ily and to the RSL.”

Dur­ing this cer­e­mony Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) and Cindy McLeish (MLA, Eil­don) will both be asked to speak briefly along with de­scen­dants Mr Smith and Ms Ey­ers who will de­liver a trib­ute to their rel­a­tive.

Lo­cal schools have been in­vited to par­tic­i­pate with chil­dren read­ing out the names of each of the 89 ser­vice per­son­nel who did not re­turn.

Mr God­ber will pro­vide an over­view of the im­pact the war had on this district dur­ing the war years and in the im­me­di­ate years af­ter the war.

Mr God­ber said it was first in­tended to in­vite the gen­eral public to this com­mem­o­ra­tive event, how­ever, due to the re­stricted space for seat­ing it has had to be by in­vi­ta­tion only.

Some 65-70 are ex­pected to at­tend.

RE­MEM­BERED: The large por­trait of Lt Stephen Facey which is dis­played at the Mans­field RSL – with his Dis­tin­guished Con­duct Medal.

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