IN HONOUR of Anzac Day, the Courier has two copies of a painstakingly researched labour of love by a Hawkesbury author with a very Hawkesbury story.
Peter Lister of East Kurrajong was a postgraduate student at the University of Western Sydney, formerly the Agricultural College, in the early 90s and would walk past the Memorial Hall with its World War I honour roll each day.
Mr Lister’s grandfather was an Anzac at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, so started to look into who the honour roll students and staff were.
“In 2006 I heard [local author] Peter Rukin talk about a field ambulance manned from the college and I thought some of the stories were so remarkable people needed to know about them,” he said. He started researching all of the 711 names on the roll.
The diverting side-interest became a decade-long project resulting in his book ‘ANZHAC: Hawkesbury Agricultural College and the Great War’. It mentions more than 400 of those on the roll.
Frank N. McGowen, who served at Gallipoli, was a case in point. His father was John McGowen, the first Labor premier of NSW and his mother was a suffragette. Another digger on the roll, Ernest Hughes, was the son of Prime Minister Billy Hughes.
Brothers Duncan and Arthur Maxwell, two other names on the roll, were from Sandy Bay in Tasmania and met up with their cousin, famous Australian war correspondent Charles Bean at Gallipoli. The Maxwells were also the only two men to receive the same decoration for the same action.
The bronze honour roll in Memorial Hall is a snapshot of the college at the time and throws up interesting statistics – only 10 of the men on the roll were Hawkesbury-born. The bodies of 44 of them have never been found. Eight had already served in the Boer War before the new conflict.
To win one of the copies tell us who the last soldier was who participated in the Gallipoli campaign in WWI and who died in 2002. Ring 4588 0806 or email justine.doherty@fairfax media.com.au. The book is also available at Wisemans Books in Richmond.