Dig­gers re­mem­bered

World War I sol­diers fi­nally have head­stones at their rest­ing place

South Western Times - - Front Page - Cal­lum Hunter

Ten pre­vi­ously un­recog­nised South West World War I sol­diers who died in the years fol­low­ing the war will fi­nally be hon­oured this week­end, with new head­stones to be re­vealed over their graves.

John Moughtin, Felix Si­mons, Ed­ward Robin­son, Wil­liam Jones, Wil­liam Mor­gan, Ber­tie Old, Geod­frid Paulson, Ed­ward De­laney, James McNa­mara and Phillip Hay all sur­vived the war and re­turned home be­fore each met their un­for­tu­nate fates.

For al­most a cen­tury, seven of the fallen sol­diers have been in un­marked graves with no means of recog­ni­tion and two were buried un­der fam­ily head­stones, both of which have since shat­tered with no ac­knowl­edge­ment of the ser­vice to their coun­try.

Mil­i­tary re­searcher Jeff Peirce said the way some of the men died would not have been well re­ceived by the com­mu­nity or the fam­i­lies.

“If you’ve been in­volved in a drunk fist­fight and been killed or took your own life, it was re­garded as a blight on the fam­ily,” he said.

“Most fam­i­lies were also re­cov­er­ing from the im­pact from the war and so didn’t have the money to pay for head­stones and didn’t know where to go for a proper com­mem­o­ra­tion, and so they never caught up with it.”

The new head­stones were erected last week, sourced from Don­ny­brook and all adorned with the ris­ing sun em­blem.

“It’s all as a point of re­spect and ac­knowl­edge­ment of the ser­vice th­ese men gave for their coun­try,” Bun­bury RSL pres­i­dent John Gelmi said.

The ser­vice on Satur­day will be at­tended by lo­cal dig­ni­taries and mil­i­tary groups ea­ger to pay their re­spects, in­clud­ing Mur­ray Welling­ton MLA Robyn Clarke, the Bun­bury, Don­ny­brook and Mandurah RSLs, the 10th Light Horse Bun­bury Troop and re­servists from the 11th/28th Bat­tal­ion.

Among those at­tend­ing the ser­vice will be Ca­role Lee, the great niece of Ed­ward Robin­son, who will un­veil her great un­cle’s new head­stone.

“I saw a lit­tle no­tice on Face­book about the gravesites and the list of names for who they were look­ing for rel­a­tives and I saw my great un­cle’s name,” she said.

“I knew about him and where he was buried, but it’s still a bit over­whelm­ing – I feel priv­i­leged.”

Mr Gelmi said com­mem­o­ra­tions and ded­i­ca­tions were a part of what the RSL was about and the whole project was “just won­der­ful”.

Pic­ture: Jon Gell­weiler

Mil­i­tary history re­searcher Jeff Peirce and Bun­bury RSL pres­i­dent John Gelmi were two of the driv­ing forces be­hind gain­ing the sol­diers’ long over­due recog­ni­tion.

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