A World War One soldier remembered
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.