No Greater Love: Stories of sacrifice
A new book detailing the huge impact World War One had on just one region has been released in time for Anzac Day. It's the latest work by Col Hoad, a 91-year-old Bupa Tumut resident.
Colin Hoad at the launch of 'No greater Love'
The words 'Age Shall Not Weary Them' were ringing true for Col Hoad.
The 91-year-old World War Two veteran and historian could see the numbers dwindling at Anzac Day services.
He realised the stories of the war service by the people of Tumut in New South Wales had to be recorded or lost forever.
“It started on Anzac Day 2013. It was getting to the point where the only veterans left were myself and a land army girl to lay a wreath.”
Colin has just published a 512-page book, No Greater Love: Tumut's Lost Sons of the Great War, which tells the stories of those who served in World War One.
It delves into the lives of the 87 soldiers with a Tumut connection, whether they were born, lived, or worked in the region, who did not come back from the War.
Colin Hoad at the War Memorial gardens, Richmond Park, Tumut.
We had to sleep and hold our horses, my horse was that tired she lay down alongside me where I had my blanket down to sleep on, she never moved all night". From the words of Dick Bridle after the battle at Khuweilfeh, Palestine on 6 November 1917. Dick was in the 2nd Machine Gun Squadron with his mate, Cliff Hoad. After a desperate battle with the Turks, almost every man in the Troop was killed or wounded. Cliff was struck in the chest and started to run straight down the hill where he collapsed at the bottom - never to regain consciousness. Dick continued to to fire the Machine Gun until it ran out of ammunition and he was left to hold the position on his own as all the others were dead or wounded. Dick survived against all odds, unlike his mate Cliff Hoad who was buried at nightfall along with many of his comrades.
“The stories were there to be told and I had better get on with it before I left this vale of tears,” He said from his home at Bupa Tumut.
While Tumut has a rich history of war service, look in any Australian town and there’ll be a monument somewhere with the names of those who served in distant wars and those who died.
“I think you could translate this into any Australian country town. I chose Tumut because it’s where I’m from, my family’s history in the area goes back to the mid 1800s,” said Colin.
Col, assisted by Val Wilkinson and Maureen Stathis, has woven a story about each soldier from his family origins, his connections to Tumut, his service abroad, to his ultimate death whether on the field or in hospital, from wounds or disease.
Ever soldier’s story is unique, as was every soldier’s death.
“There’s not one story that’s the same,” says Col.
“The thing I learned that the great leveller is death, eventually all of us go that way. These were people who sacrificed their lives without question.”
Each of their stories is told in great detail using Service Records, Unit Diaries, biographies and genealogical research.
Percy Beale was a real showman from a very early age. He regularly appeared in concerts in Tumut with his comic song and dance acts. Always looking for ways to entertain folk, he was a happy and likeable mate to all. Entertainer or not, Percy was wounded at the battle for Mouquet Farm at Pozieres but lingered for five days before he succumbed at the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station - the casualties being so great, he never even made it to a hospital.
“Anzac Day is a time where I look to the friends I’ve made in Tumut and the friends I’ve lost.”
“I come from a generation where it was very fresh in the minds of people.”
There was also a more poignant family tie. A relative of Colin’s, Harrie Jemmett, long assumed to be a ratbag deserter was shot dead by train guards.
Colin now believes, like many veterans, the horrors of the war had stayed up with him and he had what is now called PTSD.
It could be assumed the Sydney Express train from Melbourne would be a fairly safe mode of travel, yet Harrie Nathan Jemmett was shot on it by the military Guard just outside Broadford near Seymour. It was Anzac Day 1919 when the group travelling to Sydney became a bit boistorous with the addition of a couple of pints of whisky. A scuffle broke out and Jemmett was shot through the chest by the Guard. Jemmett had had a troubled war service but that didn't mean he deserved to be shot.
The book also contains the story of the man thought to be the oldest Australian soldier to die in the war; 64 year-old Henry James Gibbs who was killed in France.
“He’d fought in the Zulu Wars and the Boar War. He lowered his age to enlist and was killed in Action on the 7th June 1918 in France.”
The book is broken up into three main theatres of the War – the Anzac Legend; 40,000 Horsemen; All Quiet on the Western Front. outlining the main battles in which the soldiers were engaged, so there is more understanding of the circumstances in which they died.