As all would be aware World War One was a war to last four years and see over 60 000 killed and 156 000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.
During the next four years communities right across the country will commemorate and remember the services of our young men and women that served their country over the last 100 years with special commemorations for those who served in the Great War, the war that forged our Nation and the ANZAC Spirit.
During the commemorations for the centenary of World War One over the next four years we should also remember those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in World War Two, the Occupation of Japan, Korea, Malayan Emergency, Indonesian Confrontation, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan so we can have the lifestyle we have today.
We must also remember the families, those who stayed behind; they battled their own problems in tough war times and supported those who fought. We salute their endurance and strength.
With this in mind, some two years ago Mr Tony Scott OAM started to look at ways to commemorate the Centenary and come up the idea of a commemorative medallion. He did not have to look far for the two soldiers that would feature on the medallion: Captain Harry Murray VC - Australia’s most decorated soldier and Private Alec Campbell - Australia’s Last ANZAC.
Captain Harry Murray was awarded the Victoria Cross for his valour at Stormy Trench near Gueudecourt on the Western Front on the 4th/5th February 1917. After leading his Company to its objective, Captain Murray rallied his men in the face of heavy casualties to beat back three counter-attacks, heading bombing parties, leading bayonet charges and carrying wounded men to safety.
As well as the Victoria Cross, Captain Murray was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal; the Distinguished Service Order and Bar; the French Croix de Guerre and in 1919 was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. He was also Mentioned in Dispatches on four occasions. I believe Captain Harry Murray VC, Australia’s and the Commonwealth’s most decorated soldier of World War One to be a most worthy person to be honoured and to represent all those who served their country on this commemorative medallion.
Private Alec Campbell is remembered as the Last Australian ANZAC. Alec, at the age of 16 years and four months, left his job as a clerk with the Colonial Mutual Fire Insurance Company and, without his father’s permission, enlisted in the Army. As he had no parental consent to enlist, Alec lied about his age, claiming to be two years older.
He joined the 15th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces in July 1915 and was not even old enough to shave. Alec gained the nickname “the kid” during his training at Hobart. One of his cousins had died already at Gallipoli and the idea of Alec’s deployment terrified his parents. Alec landed at ANZAC Cove in early November 1915. He assisted in carrying ammunition, stores and water to the trenches. He received a minor wound in the fighting at Gallipoli. When evacuated with the rest of the Australians from Gallipoli, Alec became ill with a fever which caused partial facial paralysis and was discharged on 22 August 1916.
Back at home, Alec worked as a jackeroo, carpenter, mechanic, and builder and was a Tasmanian Flyweight Boxing champion. He also competed in six Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races.
With the help of James Grice, Founder and Director of Foxhole Medals in Hobart the medallion was no longer a dream, but became a reality.
The WW1 Commemorative Medallion will be available at RSL State Branch, your local RSL and Foxhole Medals for only $60 leading. All proceeds from the medallion will go to RSL’s throughout the country to continue supporting serving and ex-servicemen and women and their families of the Australian Defence Force as they have done for the past ninety eight years.
Or click here for a flyer.
LEST WE FORGET