Photo: Lt. Leslie Cecil Maygar, VC, DSO, of Dean Station, Kilmore, Vic, of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles ; c.1901, South Africa
The following article by Jim Lowden was originally published in the December 1999 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections
Boer settlers established the Orange Free State and Transvaal in southern Africa and these states were officially recognised by the British government in 1852. The discovery of gold and diamonds in these territories in the 1860ʼs meant a rapid influx of immigrants, including some Australians. The Boers treated these ʻnewcomersʼ or Uitlanders with contempt and this caused unease.
In 1899 British interests gained British government support and a military force was prepared for South Africa. The Boers learned of these preparations and delivered an ultimatum to the British Government on 9 October 1899 demanding that their military build
up in South Africa cease.
After receiving no reply in the stated two days, they attacked with forces from the Orange Free State and Transvaal. They surrounded Ladysmith, a strategic railway junction on the Natal border, and also laid siege to British garrisons at the other key border posts of Kimberley and Mafeking. There was great jubilation in Kilmore when the word came through that the siege of Mafeking had been broken on 19 May 1900.
The maintenance of the siege at these border posts had tied up large numbers of Boer troops. However, by this stage a considerable number of Cape colonists had also joined the Boer side to boost their numbers.
The Boer War, which was regarded as ʻthe last of the gentlemanʼs warsʼ, was different from the traditional large fullscale military confrontations. It was a highly mobile guerrilla war requiring skilled horsemanship and marksmanship. The Boers would surreptitiously group and then charge at a gallop with their German-made Mauser guns blazing. They became masters in the element of surprise, and their passage was unfettered throughout the whole area. This mobility provided a major logistical problem for the British military strategists. The initial requirement for foot soldiers was soon changed to mounted cavalry.
It was only after several humiliating defeats, that the British replaced Lord Roberts with Lord Kitchener as commander in chief in November 1900.
Kitchener was determined to stop the constant unchallenged roving of the Boer forces across the country and he established a large network of fortified and armed blockhouses along strategic roads and railways to ensure delivery of stores and the safe passage of reinforcements being sent to the frontline.
The blockhouses, surrounded by barbed-wire entanglements, were normally 1000 metres apart, to enable the intervening ground to be safely raked by rifle fire. They formed a wavy line across the country and were generally connected by phone.
Small detachments of armed cavalry scouts were intermittently based at these blockhouses to detect the movement of Boer soldiers and provide a net against which the enemy could be cornered.
It was also Kitchener who ruthlessly adopted the ʻscorched earthʼ policy of burning the Boersʼ farmsteads and crops and taking their livestock, ensuring that their sustenance lines were cut. They then moved the Boer women and children and native servants into centralised concentration camps. This had two unforseen effects. It relieved the Boer soldiers of their family responsibilities and ʻconcentrationʼ camp conditions caused an international furore.
However it also provided the British soldiers with better rations which normally consisted of tea, bread and dripping for breakfast and biscuits and jam during the day. Meat, until Kitchener assumed command, had not been a regular item on their diet!
A number of district soldiers, including Kilmoreʼs Ernie Crane, had their ʻnewsyʼ letters published in the Kilmore Free Press or the Kilmore Advertiser.
Illness, from gastroenteritis or typhoid, was a regular item mentioned and it is not surprising that half of Australiaʼs Boer War casualties died from disease such as Percy Seymour who died at Graff-Riennet.
The Boer soldiers knew their country and its strategic landmarks and were regularly known to remove the uniforms or ʻkhakiʼ from the dead and wounded British soldiers for their own use.
One controversial action was known as the Wilmansrust Affair took place on 12 June 1901. Boer commandos, dressed in khaki, infiltrated the picquet line after dark and opened a volley of Mauser fire on the relaxing soldiers. Their horses were stampeded and the Boers took everything usable and left the Australian unit in disarray, with 18 killed, including two Kilmore district boys, Rube Thornton and Pat Mahoney, and 42 wounded to the care of the battalion veterinarian.
Several Australians escaped the massacre and reported to Major-General Stuart Beaston, but he declined to send relief until daylight next day. Beaston described the Victorians as a group of “fat arsed, pot bellied, lazy lot of wasters”. He later elaborated further, stating “In my opinion they are a lot of white-livered curs…You can add dogs too!”
The Victorians did not take kindly to these words and returned to Middelburg. (The inquiry found the actions of Beaston and the Picquet Commander, Major C. J. N. Morris wanting.)
On 7 July the Victorians were ordered out on another operation and Private James Steele was overheard by a British officer to say “It will be better for the men to be shot than to go out with a man who called them white-livered curs:” Private Steele and two others, Privates Herbert Parry and Arthur Richards, were arrested and convicted of ʻinciting mutinyʼ and were sentenced by court martial to death by firing squad, a sentence which was commuted to prison terms by Lord Kitchener. When word reached Australia the press took up the cause and the sentences were quashed and Beaston was returned to India.
The Boers continued to push ʻthe rules of warʼ and it was those rules that the Bushveldt Carbineers, Lieutenants Henry Harbord ʻThe Breakerʼ Morant and Peter Handcock tested to their ultimate fate, to their death by firing squad. The charges against Lieutenant Harry
Picton were dismissed and the death sentence on Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton was commuted to life gaol term.
The Australian public were outraged at the British ʻmurderʼ of their volunteers. Witton was subsequently released from prison in England and returned to Australia to settle at ʻThe Elmsʼ at Lancefield and it was here that he wrote his account of the sorry business, The Scapegoats of the Empire.
On 28 September 1899, military leaders from all Australian states met in Melbourne and agreed that in the event of war breaking out in South Africa, a force of 2500 would be available.
Initially half of the pledge was to be made up of foot soldiers, but eventually most Australian soldiers were to be mounted cavalry.
District lads enlisted from their residence of that time. Mick Conway, Australiaʼs first casualty, enlisted from Perth. Donald Fraser enlisted from New South Wales and the Mackenzie brothers, who were practising medicine in New Zealand, both enlisted with the New Zealand Medical Corps. One Heathcote lad, Will Aitken, who was working in the Kimberley mines, enlisted from there, and was killed at Colenso on 15 Dec 1899 and is believed to have been the first Australian born casualty.
Many serving members of the existing Victorian Militia volunteered their services. Some of these were declared medically unfit and they joined one of several ʻprivateʼ units such as Bethuneʼs Mounted Infantry (Bethune had only one hand!), as did David Crawford and Frank Egan; Cameronʼs Scouts recruited Bob Sharkey and Jim Still; and the Marquis of Tullibardineʼs Scottish Horse, Fred Dau and Dave Davies who were both killed. They all took their own horses and lamented their wounding as did Charlie Bidstrup. They had also to leave them in South Africa on their return to Australia.
The Australian bushmen proved themselves to be excellent soldiers and matched the ability of the Boer soldiers who conducted the mobile guerrilla war.
Even Lord Roberts, the British commander, who was initially shocked by the unorthodox and casual nature of the Australian soldier, could not fault their ability as extremely brave and mobile soldiers. Indeed, it was these Australian horsemen who rode in to pick up many a British infantryman caught in a sticky situation.
Each Australian State sent its own contingent, which was divided into squadrons of 125 men and these were attached to British units.
The Fifth Victorian Mounted Rifles was the largest Victorian group of which Captain Leslie Maygar was a member. Captain George Johnston, who had married Kilmore girl Margaret Hobson, joined as a special service officer initially with the railwaysʼ unit and then with the 62nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery.
Eventually after Federation, on 1 January 1901, the State contingents all were brought within the membership of the Australian Commonwealth Horse. Some of the Kilmore district soldiers who had seen an earlier tour of duty with a Victorian unit re-enlisted for a second tour with one of the Commonwealth Horse units. High Campʼs Sergeant-Major Spooner, returned with the 2nd Australian Commonwealth Horse (ACH). Even George Johnston who had been seriously wounded and invalided home in 1900, returned as commander of the 4th ACH Regiment. A keen Tom Dwyer, from Mia Mia, who was wounded and invalided home in October 1900, rejoined his original unit the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen in January 1901, returned home with his unit in April, rejoined with Johnstonʼs 4th ACH.
A final departure of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles from South Africa, drew the following telegram from the British commander, Lord Kitchener to their Commanding Officer, at Cape Town on 11 March 1902.
“Please convey to Australians my warm appreciation of their gallant and arduous service in this country. In the name of the Army of South Africa, I wish them good luck and God speed.”
War ceased with the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902, which brought the Boer states under British rule.
The Australians lost 251 killed in action or dying from wounds. A further 267 died from disease. Kilmore and surrounding districts lost six from its contingent of more than seventy and another died from wounds on return.
In total Victoria contributed 193 officers and 3372 of other ranks to the total Australian commitment of 16,175 personnel.
The Guild of Loyal Women provided metal crosses for the graves of British casualties and these were erected on all the known graves.
It is strange that only one memorial exists to commemorate the Boer War in our region and that is to Pat Mahoney in the Darraweit Primary School grounds. A memorial committee was established for Rube Thornton but did not gain Council support and apparently did not proceed further.
Longwood, near Euroa, has a memorial listing the names of 22 soldiers, who served from their district in the Boer War. Even the recent new Memorial Wall at the Kilmore cenotaph remembering the ʻotherʼ wars did not include the Boer War, when some 25 soldiers appear to have either been born in or enlisted from or had close connection with the Kilmore district. Another 50 came from Wandong, Wallan, Darraweit Guim, Lancefield, Mia Mia, Pyalong,
Tooborac, Broadford, Strath Creek or Reedy Creek.
KILMORE AND DISTRICT BOER WAR SOLDIERS
These men appear by record, books or hearsay, either to have been born at, came from, had strong connections with, or enlisted from:
Private George Tarrant BAKER (1878-19??)
Lieutenant Charles Niels BIDSTRUP (1877-1944)
Private Alexander McLEAN (1880?-19??)
Private George MCLEAN (1880-19??)
Private James Roberts MILLS (1878-19??)
Captain William ROSS
Trooper Benjamin SUTHERLAND (1867-19??)
Saddler Ralph Hamilton TAIT (1870?-19??)
Private Kenneth YORSTON (1872-19??)
Captain Edgar Leslie Cecil Willis Walker ʻElsieʼ MAYGAR, VC (1871-1917)
Major Frederick George PURCELL (1875-1927)
Private James Francis MAHONEY (1878-19??)
Private Patrick MAHONEY (1882-19??)
Shoeing-Smith Thomas Henry MAHONEY (1876-1901)*
Sergeant Michael Francis RYAN (1880-19??)
Private Charles Stewart WALTON (1875-19 ??)
Private J BROWN (1880-19??)
Trooper Timothy John CANTWELL (1874-1938)
Sergeant David CRAWFORD (1874-1915)
Sergeant-Major William S SPOONER (1874-1919)
Private Thomas S CAHILL (1867-19??)
Private Alexander CLARKE (187 1-19??)
Private William A CONWAY (l874~19??)*
Shoeing-Smith Samuel Ernest Thomas CRANE (1882-1918)
Private Francis James DODSON (1877-19??
Trooper William Francis EGAN (1868-19 ??)
Trooper Henry Mathieson FISCHER (1880-19??)
Sergeant William Nicolson FISCHER (1883-1917)
Trooper Donald FRASER (1864-1900)*
Private Thomas GOONEY (1863-19??)
Private Charles Albert HODGES (1880-19??)
Major-General George Jameson JOHNSTON (1868-1949)
Private James John MARSHALL (1873-19??)
Sergeant Percy Callan SEYMOUR (1872-1901)*
Private James Oliver Alexander STILL (1879-1956)
Shoeing-Smith Sergeant Rupert Melbourne Arthur THORNTON (1877-1901)*
Private James Desmond CASEY (1878-19??)
Private Alfred James CATTANACH (1881-1979)
Corporal Michael John CONWAY (1871-1900)*
Private William FAGAN (1874-19??)
Private George HAMPTON (1873-19??)
Trooper Alexander ʻIkeʼ JOHNSTON (1882-1965)
Private Charles Harris MUSTEY (1875?-19??)
Private F J ʻFerdʼ SIDES (1880-19??)
Private Gilbert Benjamin YOUNG (1873-19??)
Private Thomas DWYER (1874-19??)
Corporal James BROWN (1880-19??)
Private John H BROWN (1880-19??)
Private John Vernon RICHARDS (1874-19??)
Sergeant Robert Thomas SHARKEY (1862-19??)
Farrier Sergeant George Herbert SHEPPARD (1879-19??)
Private W J SHEPPARD (1880-19??)
Sergeant Martin Herbert NOYE (1874-19??)
Private Donald Alexander PATTISON (1881-19??)
Farrier Sergeant William Raymond SMITH (1875-19??)
Trooper John Thomas ARNOLD (1880?-19R?)
Private A DONALDSON (1880?- 19??)
Private Mark Edward ʻTedʼ DONALDSON (1873-19??)
Private Harold HARNELL (1870-19??)
Private William Joseph HAYES (1876-1944)
Private Charles T HOWATT (1864-19??)
Private Reginald Percy NORTON (1873-19??)
Saddler Herbert James ABBOTT (1873-1958)
Private Neil McKENDRICK (1871-1944)
Trooper T MeKENDRICK (1880?-19??)
Lance-Corporal George Victor ROBERTSON (1874-19??)
Private Frederick George DAU (1882-1901)*
Saddler Lance-Corporal David Wellington DAVIES (1875-1901)*
Private Charles McK1NNON (1870?-1901)*
Private James Joseph KIRBY (1875-19??)
Surgeon Captain Andrew Hardie MacKENZIE (1873-19??)
Surgeon Captain Murdoch MacKENZIE (1861-1912)
Trooper Norman McKENZIE (1874-1942)
Private William MacKENZIE (1874-19??)
Private William SEYMOUR (1864-19??)
Elizabeth was born in 1878 in Kilmore, the second daughter of Terence Joseph Geoghegan and Eliza Dargan. After school she trained for three years in nursing at Melbourne Hospital obtaining her Melbourne Hospital Certificate and her Victorian Nursing Certificate. She then nursed as a sister in charge of medical and surgical wards at the Melbourne Hospital.
Elizabeth enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service at Melbourne on 28 November 1914 aged 36 years as a nurse with the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) and embarked in Melbourne on 5 December 1914, on the Kyarra taking the 1st AGH to Cairo, via Alexandria.
Elizabeth first served in Egypt at the Hellioplis Hotel, the base for the 1st AGH in Cario from early 1915 to April 1916. This hospital expanded rapidly during the Gallipoli campaign. Elizabeth was promoted to Sister on 1 December 1915, and was transferred to the 1st AGH at Rouen in France, via Marseilles in April 1916.
In France, the 1st AGH was based at the racecourse at Rouen from 1916 to late 1918, west of the Western Front. It is said that 90,000 casualties passed through its wards during this period. Elizabeth’s service record indicates that she was attached to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station from November 1916 until August 1917. Stations such as this were established almost “in the front line”. She was transferred for short periods to the 3rd AGH and 5th AGH and also spent leave in the UK, Paris and Trouville. It is likely Elizabeth held a senior position with the 1st AGH from August 1917.
Elizabeth was mentioned in dispatches on 7 November 1917 as confirmed in the Commonwealth Gazette of 18 April 1918. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) on 25 February 1918, as reported in the Commonwealth Gazette of 7 November 1918. She transferred to London for duty in late December 1918.
Elizabeth returned to Melbourne in late July 1919 on the Friedrichsruh as Sister in Charge. Her appointment was terminated on 7 December 1919. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.
In 1937 Elizabeth was one of 2,000 Australians who were awarded the Coronation Medal. At the time she was Matron of a Sanatorium in Mont Park. After World War Two she lived at Malvern and later moved to Perth where she died in 1970 aged 91 years.
Ilma Georgianna May Toomath was born on 5 January 1876 in Kilmore, the daughter of the Rev Andrew Toomath and Emily Dobson. Her father was the Church of England minister at Kilmore 1873 to 1891; he died at Armadale in January 1914 aged 82 years.
In 1890 Ilma attended Tintern Ladies College and in 1892 she gained prizes for Music, Geography and History at Parkville Ladies College. After schooling Ilma trained as a nurse at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital for three years. She then nursed in Melbourne, including as Matron of the Foundling Hospital and Infants’ Home.
After joining the Australian Army Nursing Service, Ilma volunteered to serve overseas on 5 November 1917 at age 41 years. She departed Melbourne on the SS Indarra on 26 November 1917 and arrived in Bombay on 18 December 1917 where Ilma nursed at the Colaba War Hospital until July 1919. She then transferred to the 19th British General Hospital at Rawalpindi until 1 October 1919. In August Ilma spent 9 days on temporary duty with the British Ambulance Train “A”.
After spending 15 days in the Sisters Hospital in Bombay in October with paratyphoid, Ilma remained in Bombay until she embarked on 26 November 1919 on the SS Medic for Melbourne. Ilma was promoted to Sister on 26 November 1919 and was discharged from the Nursing Service on 3 May 1920. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.
Ilma continued nursing after the War and lived with her sister at Berwick, then at Norman Avenue, South Yarra. She retired in the late 1930s and lived with her sister Henrietta at Ferntree Gully. Ilma died on 4 April 1944.
In the matter of being represented in the great war Kilmore occupies a proud position for it can claim the distinction of having representatives in the three mighty branches of Old England’s unbroken power – the Army, the Navy and the Red Cross. Few provincial towns in Victoria can sustain such a boast. In the army there are scores of soldiers from Kilmore occupying positions in practically every branch, including aviation and wireless; the Red Cross is represented by Sister K. O’Connor and Sister M. Semple, whilst the navy lays claim to Paymaster Cadet Ian A. Hesford, who served on board the Melbourne in the North Sea.
The nurses, cadet and many soldiers having returned from active service, the opportunity was taken on Friday evening last to tender a public welcome home to them. The Oddfellows’ hall was packed on the occasion, many people travelling miles to do honor to the returned warriors and nurses. The hall was gaily decorated with bunting, including naval flags, whilst the stage was heavily laden with flowers. Cr W. Crilley, J.P., acted as chairman, and read an apology from Mr A.F. Cameron, M..L.A, who was debarred through business from attending, but who extended a hearty welcome to all those returned. Proceedings were opened by the Kilmore Citizens’ Band playing appropriate selections, and the audience singing the National Anthem and God Bless our Splendid Men. Mr S.W. Baker of Broadford, who has a good reputation in Kilmore as a vocalist, sang The Deathless Army, and in reply to a spontaneous recall he sang another number, and later on, by request, Mr Baker further contributed to the pleasure of the evening, Mrs Baker playing the accompaniments very proficiently. After Mr Baker’s first song an important official stood on a chair and peremptorily ordered there must be no encores, owing to the length of the programme – and most of the hearers fervently hoped the chair would tip up.
They, however, took no notice of the order on that occasion and recalled Mr Baker, who responded to the call. Two chorus songs were given – Men of Harlech and March of the Cameron Men – the singers being Mrs Jos. Morrissey, Mrs Birrell, Mrs Drury, Misses M Sugden, E. Drury, O & A Holman and Messrs R J Barkla and W A Drury, and the voices blended nicely.
In a duet, The Mandoline, success was achieved by Misses A and O Holman, whilst Mr T R Wood’s humorous recitation about Jones Minor’s Recitation kept the audience simmering with amusement. Mrs Jos Morrissey’s item The Bells of St Mary’s was very well received, and an encore was deserved. Miss M Sugden was in good voice in her contribution I’ll Sing to You. Mr R J Tymms gave a fine number in Peace and Glory (the Victory song) and well earned an encore, but the restriction was again observed; this was the first time this song was heard in Kilmore, and a repetition by Mr Tymms would have been welcome.
Miss Hesford came next with a violin solo, introducing Scotch airs, and her imitation of the bagpipes was something to be remembered – it was just about perfection, and the great audience broke through the encore restriction and recalled Miss Hesford, declining to restore quietness until the young lady reappeared and gave another brilliant recital, for which she received further approbation; the accompaniment was played by Miss O’Shea. Mrs A W Govett was applauded for singing Poor Wandering One. Miss O’Shea was listed to sing The Marseillaise, but substituted There’s a Land; she did well in the latter song, and received merited applause, but the French National Anthem, not being often heard on Kilmore concert platforms, would have been a decided acquisition to this programme in particular, and it was eagerly expected. Miss O’Shea’s powerful voice being quite capable of doing the song justice. Miss Annie Wilson was a most efficient and sympathetic accompaniste.
The next item on the programme was the address of welcome to the returned nurses, soldiers and sailor, by Mr G A Maxwell MHR, who received a flattering reception upon entering the hall.
Mr G A Maxwell was then called upon to deliver an address of welcome to the returned nurses, sailor and soldiers. Mr Maxwell was given a most cordial reception, and after a few preliminary remarks in lighter vein he became serious. He said there was a maxim, “Good wine needs no bush.” That also applied to the evening’s proceedings – a good subject, and needed no elaboration. The people now were of one heart and one mind. They were not quite so unsettled now as they were twelve months ago, when many were unmanned by the course events were taking. At that time they were looking for recruits, for men were urgently wanted, the circumstances being so absolutely different. In June last the Empire was under the darkest cloud of its existence, and he visited Kilmore and many other places with a recruiting party to ask the boys to go and help the boys at the front, for help was sorely wanted then. Thank God there was no need for that now, and the feeling of all at present should be of devout thankfulness to Almighty God for His goodness. Peace, however, had not come about yet; it was only a cessation of hostilities. They were not out of the wood yet; there was yet a feeling of anxiety in men’s minds, but that feeling was not so strained as before, but yet it was a feeling that we were not altogether out of it.
He was pleased to know that some of the boys had returned, some were returning, but it saddened them to know that some, aye, many, would not return. Since these nurses and soldiers left Australia their eyes had rested upon some exquisite landscape some of the most exquisite landscape in the world, but the landscape they saw upon returning to their own districts, was more exquisite than all, for was it not their home – Home, Sweet Home. Anyone to see him on the platform welcoming returned nurses and soldiers might ask why a stranger should occupy such a position. The answer was anybody had a right to be there. The soldiers were not anybody’s in particular – they were ours. They did not go to fight for Kilmore, they did not fight for him or anyone in particular, – they fought for the Empire. If a stranger came from the Gulf of Carpentaria he had equal rights to bid the nurses and soldiers welcome home. The fever of fighting had not yet gone out of the blood of men, and the community had not so far settled down to its humdrum life again. The soldiers had laid the whole of Australia under a very heavy debt of obligation, and that debt must be paid. They had welcomed returning soldiers on all hands, and would continue to welcome them until all had returned. Things would soon come down to the ordinary routine again, when all must be prepared to face the payment of the debt to the soldiers. While in the thick of the fight the wounds were not felt in the excitement.
It was the next day when the wounds were stiff and sore that they felt it. It was the same way with the soldiers’ debt of obligation. When the day comes they must face in grim earnest the payment of that huge debt; a debt of gratitude for what the boys and girls have done. The task of paying that debt must be set out upon, and it lies upon the shoulders of every man, woman and child in Australia to pay toward it. They must recognise that there will be drastic and still more drastic financial burden placed upon the people to pay off the debt. Now that numbers were returning to Australia, the people must not lose an opportunity of helping the boys and girls who have done so much for them. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Association had done much to help the returned men, and it was working hard to further their interests, but there were very many ways in which people could help in addition to the association. Many hard cases had come under notice, and many more would come, and that was where the help of the people would be highly valuable. They must step in and help the returned soldiers on every possible occasion.
The soldiers have made a splendid record. Each one had written his name on the honor roll of Australia for all time. The soldier owed it to himself to make good. He returned to his old community and he (Mr Maxwell) hoped the returned men would settle down to the duties of citizenship and do as well in private life as they had done at the front. To do that would do a great deal toward cementing friendship with one another. At the front the main spirit between the men was cobbership, and the same cobbership would prevail now amongst all. For those men who had offered their lives and the offer had been accepted there was a strong feeling of admiration and sorrow. Those men whose lives had been offered and not been accepted should out of gratitude settle down in citizenship and make good. They had played the game like men over there; don’t play the fool over here. One knew a man by what he did.
These fellows had acquitted themselves splendidly at the front and their actions were admired by the whole world. He (the speaker) appealed to them not to give way now and play the coward, but to acquit themselves as well in their career as citizens as they had as soldiers. They had written their names on the Commonwealth scroll of honor, then let them make the best of the lives which had been given back to them. Let them remember that they owed a deep debt of gratitude to Him Who had spared their lives, and the proper way to recognise that debt was to settle down as reputable citizens. He (Mr Maxwell) fervently welcomed home the returned nurses, soldiers and sailor on behalf of the people of Kilmore and wished them every happiness and prosperity. (Continued applause.)
Chaplain-Captain Tolhurst (Presbyterian) in his usual breezy style, extended a warm welcome home to those who had returned from active service. He was pleased to see that Kilmore had turned out in a body, or as much of it as the hall would hold, to bid welcome to the returned people. He was very glad to see the two nurses returned home safely. He could speak with experience of the nurses, who represented a very large army indeed. He had seen them in thousands in Egypt, but there were none at Gallipoli, because no women were allowed to land there, although he understood one did succeed in getting there. During his service with the 6th Light Horse in Egypt he had many opportunities of seeing the sisters at work, and they were very courageous under fire. They had also done great work in England and France. He extended a hearty welcome home to all.
Rev. Father Martin (Roman Catholic), Rev J A Peck (Church of England), and Rev C Angwin (Methodist) also welcomed home the returned nurses, soldiers and sailor.
Mr Maxwell then on behalf of the people of Kilmore, presented the nurses, and soldiers each with a gold medal, suitably inscribed, and bearing the number and colors of their respective battalions.
Those receiving medals were Nurse K O’Connor, Nurse M Semple, Lieutenant Proudfoot, Sergeant Mabbett, Corporal Holman, Sapper Angwin, Sapper Luckie, Sapper Portbury, Gunner Lee, Gunner McLaurin, Driver Meade, Privates Hyde, Ahearn, Cavanagh, Delahunty, Dunphy, Glanville, Harrington, Jamieson, Pentland, Newton, Looney, Lincoln, Anderson, Tolhurst, Skehan, Smith, Joiner and Sheppard.
The medals were pinned on the nurses’ capes by Mr C McNab, and Miss Daisy Proudfoot pinned on the soldiers’ medals. Amongst the men were two Anzacs, Privates J. Looney and R Skehan. The whole of the recipients were cheered separately as they returned to their seats on the stage.
Lieutenant Proudfoot returned thanks on behalf of the nurses and the men. He also thanked the Kilmore Red Cross for sending parcels and comforts to the local boys at the front. He said also that it gave him great pleasure to again meet Nurse O’Connor, as he had met her in 1917 at a clearing station on the field in active service, and there were much safer places in Australia than that.
Privates Smith, Dunphy, and Luckie and Paymaster-Cadet Hesford also responded.
Refreshments were then served and a very happy evening terminated.
One discordant note was struck during the presentation of medals by a busy official, bubbling over the importance, signalling out a soldier as “the pick of the bunch”. The remark was coarse and most uncalled for, and has been generally resented, and very properly so.
The ladies of the Red Cross Society deserve the highest commendation for the way in which they arranged and carried out the welcome home.
KILMORE HISTORICAL SOCIETY GENERAL MEETING
TUESDAY 5 MAY 2015
Our May General Meeting will be held at the Kilmore Court House, 4 Powlett Street, on 7 April at 7:30 pm.
Make sure to attend and hear from guest speaker, Jenny Gardner. Jenny is a consultant in Natural and Cultural Heritage Interpretation. She will be discussing her work in this area with illustrative examples from her career.
The meeting will begin at 7:30 and end at approximately 9 – 9:30, with time for questions and general business.
Supper will be served after the meeting and all are welcome to participate.
All members and non-members are welcome to attend.
Kilmore, Victoria, Australia. Victoria's oldest inland town