Commemorating ANZAC Day

To commemorate ANZAC Day, we have collected a number of stories from our team that depict their family’s experience as a part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) in World War I and those who have served in the spirit of the ANZACs in subsequent years.

Jonathan Allan (Chief Operating Officer)

Gordon Hope Allan was my paternal grandfather. He was 23 years of age when he volunteered to join the NZ army, just 5 days after the NZ Prime Minister offered his support to Britain. He joined the Otago Regiment, which was part of the “NZ Mounted Rifles”.

Gordon (pictured below left) had been in the part-time “Territorial Army” before the war, so he was immediately promoted. He left NZ with the rank of Sergeant, just 5 weeks after joining up. Gordon left NZ with soldiers as young as 14 years, who lied about their age so they could join the army. The people who had joined the army had so little experience that Gordon was promoted two more times on his way to Gallipoli, first to Sergeant Major, and then to 2nd Lieutenant.

It was a very long journey from NZ to Gallipoli, via Tasmania, India and Egypt. On 25th April 1915, troops sleeping on the cool decks were woken by the massive guns of HMS Queen Elizabeth and other British warships, as they began shelling the Gallipoli Penninsula.

Gordon was shot in the left leg as he made his way up the gully to the Turkish hilltop defensive positions, Chunuk Bair and Baby 700, and then had his jaw smashed by a Turkish soldier as he lay wounded. It was his first action, and he had been in Turkey for just 7days. By the end of the next day, just 8 days after the ANZACs arrived, there were over NZ 10,000 casualties.

On the 7th of May Gordon was admitted to hospital in Greece. When he was stable enough to travel, he was shipped home to NZ, arriving on 15 July. He had been away from NZ for 6 months and would spend 9 months recovering.

On 3 March 1916, Gordon was sent back to war, this time to the Western Front in northern Germany. Gordon survived more than a year of terrible conditions before being badly wounded again – a bullet shattering the bones in one of his arms. At the time, Gordon was a Captain commanding a 4 Company of the Otago Battalion. By that time, the Otago Battalion had lost more than three quarters of its soldiers, including several of Gordon’s brothers and cousins.

Gordon never fully recovered. Despite his injuries, he served again during WWII back in New Zealand as a Lieutenant Colonel. He had to live with a damaged arm until he died more than 50 years later.

 

Aislinn Macintyre (Environmental Consultant, QLD)

My ANZAC story involves my paternal grandfather Donald Macintyre and his two brothers Norman and Athol. At the outbreak of WWII the brothers agreed that they would draw straws for who would stay at home to look after their elderly mother, while the other two would enlist. The two younger brothers Norman and Athol scarpered off to enlist in the “great adventure” leaving my grandfather to care for their mother.

Norman was quickly seconded into Army Intelligence, serving in the Middle East, Crete and other theatres. He received a Russian Medal of Valour and was recalled to Australia when Japanese invasion was imminent.

Athol, a diesel mechanic by trade, quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant, and was one of the many thousands reported “Missing in Action” after the fall of Singapore on 9 February 1942. My Dad has visited his memorial in the Kranji cemetery on Singapore Island. He was one of the older amongst the dead, aged 26 years.

A year after the start of WWII, my great-grandmother had passed away and my grandfather Donald enlisted in the RAAF in early 1941. He was a fitter armourer based at Darwin Airport, in the 13th Squadron. On 19 February 1942 came the first bombing attack on Darwin, and many squadrons (including the 13th) retreated south, eventually resettling at Pine Creek several hundred kilometres inland.

It was here that my grandfather learned of the death of his brother Athol in Singapore, the news delivered by Norman who had commandeered a motorbike in Darwin to ride down to where Donald was stationed. Much of this history has been gathered by my Dad who visited the Northern Territory Archives in Darwin.

Top left; My grandfather, Donald, pictured in the middle of the photograph at his base in Darwin. Middle top; Athol’s gravestone in Singapore.
Bottom left; One of the gems of information my father discovered at the Northern Territory Archives – an unofficial badge of the 13th Squadron.. Right; My grandfather is in the front row, second from left.

 

Caitlin Adcock (Senior Environmental Planner, ACT)

My great-grandfather, Garnet Ingamells Adcock, was born at Geelong in Victoria on 15 April 1895. Before enlisting in the First World War, he was a Mining Engineer and an army veteran, having served in the 67th (Bendigo) Battalion at Duntroon and having had experience in A.I.F. camps. He was appointed lieutenant in the AIF on 1 May 1916 and was assigned to the 5th Tunnelling Company.

He boarded HMAT Warila, in Melbourne on 25 May 1916 and travelled to France on 30 August 1916, posted to the 2nd Tunnelling Company on 25 September. On 29 December that same year he was admitted to the 10th Field Ambulance in the field with shell shock and despite protesting that he felt fine he did not re-join his unit until 20 January 1917. On 11 January 1918 he was promoted to the rank of Captain.

On 25 November 1918 he married my great-grandmother, Marguerite Marie Van Coillie, my great-grandmother was Belgian, and they met whilst my grandfather was serving with the AIF. My great-grandfather was granted leave from 4 May 1919 to 5 July 1919 for Non-Military Employment in a perfume factory in the south of France, and to attend a course in herb and medicinal plant culture. This course was not completed as his leave was cancelled on 30 June 1919.

My great-grandparents returned to Australia on 18 July 1919 on board Orsovo. In 1921, they bought Henry Kendall Cottage in Gosford, New South Wales starting their own perfume business. Having little success in this business they developed a new company Jusfrute – one of the first companies of its kind to use emulsion taken from oil from the skin of the fruit to make a drink flavouring or cordial.

During WWII my great-grandfather served as a lieutenant colonel in the headquarters of the Volunteer Defence Corps. Over the course of his life, he wrote four books: three about his post-war career in business, and one titled How to Deal with Military Offences (A.I.F. & A.M.F.).

Garnet died on 18 December 1956, and is buried at Point Clare Cemetery, Gosford, New South Wales.

Right; An excerpt from Garnet’s diary describing tunnelling. (Source: Australian War Memorial).

Nicola Roche (Manager, Cultural Heritage)

ANZAC

None of my family were ANZACS, however, we do have a bit of a quirky link.  My maternal great-grandfather, Bill Hiles, was a powder monkey in the Lower Hunter Coalfields. During WWI, he was in a reserved occupation so didn’t sign up initially.  Any potential for him to join up was taken away in 1916 when he was injured while setting a charge underground.  He lost his sight, one arm and most of the fingers on his remaining hand.  At the time, his wife was pregnant with my grandfather and his twin brother.  When the boys were born, they were named to acknowledge the sacrifices made in WWI by our servicemen and women.  My great uncle was named Victor (for victory) and my grandfather was named Verdun (after the Battle of Verdun, one of the longest running battles with the highest number of casualties, which in turn triggered the Imperial Forces to send Australian troops into the French battlefields) with his middle name Anzac.

My grandfather apparently took great pride in his name, despite its unusual nature. Grandad went on to be a pilot in the RAAF during WWII, based out of Rathmines and initially flying Catalinas and subsequently Liberators in the Pacific theatre.  We still have his flight logbook and uniform. He named his son (my uncle) Verdun, who in turn named one of his sons Verdun and we are now on the 4th generation of Verdun Hiles.

Barb Crossley (Managing Director)

I had the honour of marching with my Pa (Terry Crossley) on a couple of ANZAC days when I was a child. Despite my persistent questions, he never talked about his time serving in WWII, and only ever made light of the time he spent overseas ‘doing his bit with his mates’.  A shearer from Deniliquin, he joined the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion B Company in Melbourne (where he met my Nan, Zoe) and served in WWII in the Middle East and then in the last year of the war, in New Guinea.  The photo (shown right) is from a book ‘From Snow to Jungle’, and Terry Crossley is the tall chap in the back with the slouch hat.

He re-joined Nan and his then four-year-old son that he hadn’t yet met (my Dad Terry) after the war, and they took on a Soldiers Settlers block near Deniliquin. They eventually lost the farm, and Pa went back to shearing and stockman jobs, before finishing his working life managing a large property, near Hay in NSW.

Whilst he had an uncanny ability to function with a constant dose of beer, my recollection was that he loved and respected Nan deeply, always had a twinkle in his eye, was an awesome stockman and had plenty of interesting stories (apart from about the war!).

Left; Image from the book ‘From Snow to Jungle’, and Terry Crossley is the tall chap in the back with the slouch hat.
Right; Nanna (then Dorothy (Dot) Smith)

One of the many unsung ANZAC’s, was my Nanna (then Dorothy (Dot) Smith) from WA.  She served as part of the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS), a non-medical women’s established in Australia during the Second World War “to release men from certain military duties for employment in fighting units” the service grew to over 20,000-strong and provided personnel to fill various roles including administration, driving, catering, signals and intelligence”.  Nanna’s war time history is a bit sketchy as she didn’t really acknowledge her time in the AWAS in Perth, after she moved, with her then young daughter (Maxine, my mum) to grow a family with a WWII solider (Gordon Allan) on a Soldiers Settlers block near Deniliquin.   As one of four children of an Aboriginal woman from the Pilbara, Nanna left behind her mother and three brothers, together with her Aboriginal heritage, to take on her new story of claimed Spanish heritage when she moved to NSW, during the war.  For her, WWII was the opportunity to change her identity and her destiny, at a time where Aboriginal women (and men) were considered good enough to serve their country in the war, but when the war ended, returned to having very few rights or opportunities for some decades to come.  She navigated many tough times, with incredible resilience, and mostly good humour (as I recall in her later years at least!).  Despite attempts to get her to open up in her older, more mellow years, we could not get her to tell us her story of growing up in WA, including her time serving in the AWAS.

 

Peter Cowper (Asia-Pacific Defence Lead, Senior Principal Consultant, ACT)

I have numerous uncles and grandparents who served in WWI and WWII in combat and non-combat roles (including as combat media reporters).  In the spirit of ANZAC here is photo of a small collection of souvenired effects of Japanese troops (below) which came into the possession of my grandfather presumably while he was posted to Port Moresby during WWII (the then LEUT John Harington Burrough Cowper [AIF – NX11518], portrait of a slovenly Lieutenant, shown below).  How my grandfather came upon these items remains a mystery, as he passed away well before I was able to ask such questions. As a result of my own research, and advice sought from the Japanese Embassy in Canberra, is that the insignia is that of a Captain from the Japanese Imperial Forces. What can be discerned from the flat is that it appears to have originated from the town of Naganuma in Hokkaido prefecture, and has the following writing:

‘Buun Chōkyū’ – ‘Eternal success in battle’

‘Naganuma Mura’ – ‘Naganuma Village’

‘Naganuma Bunkai’ – ‘Naganuma Society’

 ‘Naganuma Jinja’ – ‘Naganuma Shrine’

 ‘Hokkaido Yubari gun, Naganuma mura Yakuba’ – ‘Hokkaido prefecture, Yubari district, local government office of Naganuma village’

Given the flag and bugle have no direct linkage to anything of historical importance in the conduct of WWII it does not meet the standard for donations to the Australian War Memorial. Accordingly, in keeping with the spirit of the request of the Japanese Embassy, they are kept as a treasured reminder of my family’s role in world events and revered as a symbol of sacrifice on all sides of conflict.

To another time, my father, the then CPL John Goodwin Harington Cowper (217164), was deployed to Vietnam as a member of the Australian Mobile Advisory Team of the 1st Australian Task Force, detached from the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment from October 1967 to August 1968. His role was to work with South Vietnamese troops in the Dat Do district of Phuc Tuy Province as an instructor in weaponry, tactics and other military subjects. His military career had begun some eight years prior as a Commonwealth Military Forces infantry soldier (CMF – equivalent to Reserves) attaining the rank of Staff Sargent before enlisting in the Australian Regular Army (ARA) in 1966 serving mainly with 5RAR as an infantryman. His service continued following his deployment to Vietnam until August 1972 when he discharged from the ARA with the rank of Sergeant.

Above; CPL John Goodwin Harington Cowper (217164) waiting for a helicopter while on deployment in Vietnam.

Lest we forget.

 

Steve Cole (Principal Environmental Consultant Defence, Marine and Coastal, ACT)

Remembering Herbert George Mitchell Cole (pictured below left). Bugler, South Australian Contingent – Boer war 1899-1902.

Herbert was only 16 years when he enlisted as a bugler to the Light Horse Battalion, serving in the SA Contingent in South Africa in the year before federation. He then served in the Australian 4 Battalion Commonwealth Light Horse Brigade when Australia became a federation in 1901.

Herbert’s inscribed bugle (shown below right) was lost from our home in Adelaide in a burglary in 1974, resurfacing decades later and donated to the Australian War Memorial Canberra. During his service, Herbert earned two medals, the Queen’s and King’s South Africa Medals. Despite contracting a serious illness that left him completely deaf Herbert lived to the ripe old age of 87 years. He owned a shop in the southern SA town of Port Elliot where he married Gertrude and had two children Roma and Reuben (Toby). Both children served in active service in Europe and the Pacific in WWII.

It is hard to believe today that Herbert went to war at 16 years of age. I remember him well as a kind and gentle man but as a child and young teenager struggled to converse with him due to his deafness.

 

Lachlan Sweeney (Senior Environmental Scientist, NSW)

Left; Vincent Sweeney in his navy uniform with my Grandmother Joan on their wedding day. Right; John Sweeney.

My grandfather, Vincent Sweeney, was in the Navy and served during WWII as a stoker in the engine room of the steam powered HMAS Warramunga. He took shore leave in 1944 to get married.

My father John was drafted into the Army in 1966 and served for two years in Papua New Guinea in the Pacific Islands Regiment. In addition to patrols, his duties included training the Papua New Guinean soldiers. Above is a photo of him in Australia at the Kapooka army training centre.

 

Pam Dean-Jones (Principal, Communities & Landscapes, NSW)

My grandfather and two of my great uncles (my grandmother’s brothers, one of whom Harry Jewell of the Light Horse, is pictured right in about 1916) fought in France in the First World War.  Before the war, Pa had been a good cricketer and worked for Johnsons Leather in Sydney, but Grandma’s brothers were country boys from out at Walgett – good horsemen, but with no trade skills.

Pa lost his leg in France.  He was the gentlest of men, always calm and with a lovely smile.  He never talked to us grandkids about his experience in France, and never went to ANZAC day marches – although as little girls we always watched the march on TV to see his Battalion (18 Infantry, 14 to 17 reinforcements, embarked Australia in October 1916).

It is interesting to reflect in this time of pandemic that most of his family (his mother and a brother at least) died of the Spanish Flu in Australia just after the war.

 

Jess Blackman (Senior Archaeologist, NSW)

My great Uncle, Vince Broe, was a POW on the Burma-Thai Railway during the years 1942 to 1945. He managed to keep a secret diary by writing on scraps of paper and burying them in jars/tins/bottles all around the POW camp. The scraps were later recovered and written up in a book – I have the only copy.

One part of the book that really stood out to me is the poem that he wrote below. I think it captures well the Aussie humour and gives us an insight into the conditions within the camp – where food was their sole obsession and interest; with large portions of the entries revolving around what they had to eat and how sick it made people.

 

Ian Kennedy (Manager – Spatial & Visualisation Services)

My Great Grand Father, Bertam (4578) enlisted in 1915 and was initially with the 21st Battalion 11th Brigade before transferring to A Company 18th Battalion 5th Brigade and served in both Belgium and France. My Grandfather, Thomas Edward (NX 24067) enlisted in 1941 and was a Sargent in B Company 19th Battalion 4th Australian Division. He served in both New Guinea and Morotai (Indonesia).

My father, Michael served on board the HMAS Hobart (II) during the Vietnam war. On 17 June 1968, Hobart was in the vicinity of Tiger Island when they detected an aircraft approaching. Although the aircraft was evaluated as friendly it continued to close and fired a missile that struck Hobart amidships on her starboard side. A second (did not detonate) and third missile hit the ship which saw two sailors killed and several injured. It later transpired that Hobart was one of several ships mistakenly attacked by US 7th Air Force jets.

My brother-in-law, Commander Andrew Hough is currently serving in the Royal Australian Navy also. He has been deployed to the Middle East on several occasions and also to the Caribbean for counter-narcotics and hurricane relief operations. He assumed command of the RAN Recruit School in January 2018 and will shortly be taking over captaincy of HMAS Sydney (V).

Michael Kennedy on the left and Andrew Hough on the far right with 1953kg of resin that tested positive to THC, seized in the North Arabian Sea.