Far­low broth­ers in arms forge lighthorse leg­end

The Daily Examiner - - NEWS - BILL NORTH bill.north@dai­lyex­am­iner.com.au

THREE broth­ers en­listed. Two never re­turned.

In 1915 Lieu­tenant Fred­er­ick Gar­net Far­low (Fred), Trooper Harold (Harry) Hamil­ton Far­low and Trooper Mer­ton Glen Far­low - all sons of Lower Clarence pi­o­neers Charles and Ju­lia Far­low joined the 11th Light Horse Reg­i­ment and set sail for the Mid­dle East to fight for our sovereignty in World War I.

Af­ter he sur­vived the last six months of the Gal­lipoli cam­paign, Fred was of­fered a pro­mo­tion to serve on the West­ern Front but de­clined in favour of the Mid­dle East Light Horse to join with his two broth­ers.

He won a Mil­i­tary Cross for storm­ing an en­emy ma­chine gun out­post at Maghara, where he “led his troop with gal­lantry and skill”, on Oc­to­ber 15, 1916.

In April 1917 the reg­i­ment moved into Pales­tine and joined its first ma­jor bat­tle on April 19 at Gaza.

Af­ter Gaza fell on No­vem­ber 7, 1917, Turk­ish re­sis­tance in south­ern Pales­tine col­lapsed. The 11th Light Horse moved into the Jor­dan Val­ley in time to par­tic­i­pate in the Es Salt raid be­tween April 29 and May 4, 1918.

The op­er­a­tion pro­gressed well ini­tially with Es Salt seized by the evening of April 30. De­ter­mined Turk­ish re­sis­tance


even­tu­ally forced a with­drawal back on May 3.

Harry was badly wounded in hand and head and deemed to be killed in ac­tion on May 1, 1918, but his body was never re­cov­ered.

One eye­wit­ness de­scribed how the wound to the head ex­posed both brain and bone. He was ly­ing qui­etly when they left him and it was gen­er­ally sup­posed that he could not live.

One eye­wit­ness said “we had to re­tire about two miles which made it nec­es­sary to leave him and we never went over the same ground again”.

In Au­gust, the reg­i­ment was is­sued with swords and trained in tra­di­tional cavalry tac­tics, and on Septem­ber 25 dis­played its ver­sa­til­ity at Se­makh by first charg­ing the Turk­ish de­fences on horse­back with swords drawn, then clear­ing the town on foot, with ri­fle and bay­o­net.

As they ap­proached the south of Se­makh just be­fore dawn, the for­ward troops were heav­ily fired upon, and Fred was killed in ac­tion. Mer­ton later re­counted to his fa­ther they had wit­nessed his brother fall.

The town was cap­tured by 5.30am. Three Aus­tralian of­fi­cers had been killed along­side 11 of their men, in com­par­i­son to 98 en­emy troops killed, and 364 prison­ers taken, in­clud­ing 150 Ger­mans.

It was the last sig­nif­i­cant bat­tle of the Mid­dle East be­fore the Ot­toman Empire col­lapsed, the Turks sur­ren­dered on Oc­to­ber 30, 1918 and so was cre­ated the leg­end of the Aus­tralian Light Horse.

Mer­ton re­turned. His daugh­ter is well-known Ma­clean lo­cal, 94-year-old Joyce Wat­son. Her nephew is NSW Cane Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ross Far­low.

“My fa­ther was a suc­cess­ful man who was also a provider

to us and we al­ways had stan­dards in our house,” Mrs Wat­son said.

“To this day we still have stan­dards; rep­utable cit­i­zens who leave the place bet­ter than we found it.”

Both Harold (Harry) and Fred­er­ick (Fred) were mar­ried be­fore en­list­ing.

Six weeks af­ter they sailed for over­seas ser­vice, Fred’s wife gave birth to a daugh­ter Merle whom he never saw. She grew up a fine woman and later mar­ried an Amer­i­can ser­vice­man and went to live in Amer­ica.

Two of her chil­dren Peter Des­mond and Jan­ice DiRo­mualdo trav­elled from Penn­syl­va­nia and Florida to unite with rel­a­tives who, un­til re­cently, they did not know ex­isted.

Last Fri­day, 83 mem­bers of the Far­low fam­ily at­tended a Last Post Cer­e­mony for Fred and Harry at theAus­tralian War Memo­rial. On Wed­nes­day an­other com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vice was held lo­cally at Ma­clean ceno­taph.

Lt Fred­er­ick Far­low.

Photo: Adam Houri­gan

UNITED BY BRAV­ERY: The ex­tended Far­low fam­ily gather at the Ma­clean ceno­taph for the com­mem­o­ra­tion of broth­ers in arms Fred­er­ick, Harold and Mer­ton Far­low. INSET: Light Horse­man Mer­ton Far­low (left) re­turned to Ma­clean af­ter the war. His brother Harold was killed in the bat­tle­field in May, 1918.

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