{Thanks to All Our Heroes,} {Those Who Fought for Us}

Article excerpt

Byline: Toni McRae - with original histories and photos courtesy of John Meyers

Anzac Day is traditionally the one day in the year where we remember our brave Anzacs. It is also a day when we reflect on war and its impact on Australia and the world.

In a labour of devotion to Australia's war record, John Meyers at Maryborough's Colonial and Military Museum has spent years scouring the world, collecting the medals and histories of our men and women who gave up their lives - or some of their lives - serving their country.

The stories and photos are on display in the museum.

On these pages on Anzac Day 2009, we meet our soldiers from nine wars across three centuries - and remember them with gratitude for our freedom.

Egypt 1885

Private Walter Harrison was a member of the New South Wales Sudan Contingent. This was the first time one of the Australian colonies raised a contingent to serve overseas.

When General Gordon was killed at Khartoum, the New South Wales Government offered a contingent of 800 soldiers to the British Government that was fighting the Arabs.

During the campaign, Pte Harrison was one of three Australian soldiers wounded - on April 4, 1885 at Sua Kim. They were the first Aussies serving in an Australian unit to be wounded in action.

The Boxer Rebellion 1900

In January 1900 British missionaries and foreigners were murdered by the Boxers in China. In June the German Ambassador was murdered.

An International Relief Force from a handful of countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany, Russia and France sent forces to quell the unrest.

As part of the British force, Victoria and New South Wales with a cruiser named Protector from the South Australian Naval Forces sent a naval contingent of 554 men.

During the 10 months' campaign from August 1900, seven men died of illness. There were no Australian battle fatalities.

Of the seven casualties, only one was an officer. He was Staff Surgeon John Steel, one of the two medical officers.

John Steel has the dubious honour of being the first officer ever to die while serving overseas with an Australian force. He died on November 10, 1900, and was buried in Peking.

Boer War 1899-1902

Private James Whitaker left Maryborough in 1901 to join the 5th Queensland Contingent to the Boer War in South Africa where he served as a farrier.

Returning from South Africa in 1902, he served as a farrier in the Army Medical Corps at Maryborough until April 1904.

For many years he had a small farm on Saltwater Creek Road. Later on, his son Sam was well known around the district for his bullock team. He often displayed the bullock teams at shows and carnivals.

World War I 1939-1945

Major General Herbert Cox served on Gallipoli as the commander of the 29th Indian Brigade and commanded the Australians and New Zealanders during the advances on Hill 971 in August 1915.

On return to Egypt after the withdrawal from Gallipoli in early 1916, he was promoted to Lieutenant General by Sir William Birdwood, who was the commander of the Australian and New Zealand Forces for most of World War I and given the command of the 4th Australian Division, which served in France.

For his service on Gallipoli he was knighted with a KCMG and again for his good work in France in 1916, particularly at Pozieres, with a KCB.

He retired in 1921 as General Sir Herbert Cox GCB, KCMG.

General Cox was a long-serving officer of the British Army with medals for campaigns in Afghanistan in 1879, India from 1885 to 1887 and 1897 to 1898, and China 1900 as well as in WW I. …