Hawkesbury locals made supreme sacrifice in Wold War I

War was declared on Germany by Great Britain and Australia in August 1914. Within days of the announcement the nation set into action.

Hawkesbury locals swiftly volunteered, many within days of the announcement. Alex Teale of Wilberforce was one of the first to join, a former member of the Windsor-Richmond Lancer Squadron, and within a few days headed to the German colony in New Guinea, with the first Australian force to depart. He was part of the first Australian unit in WWI combat, and where the first Australians were killed in action.

Australian troops, some of them from the Hawkesbury, were to assist the allies take control of the Dardenelles.

On that unforgettable day on 25 April 1915, thousands of Australian and New Zealand forces landed on a Turkish beach, which later became known as Anzac Cove. Despite the casualties, they commanded a small stronghold but were unable to break through the Turkish lines.

Richmond's Dr William Macdonald Helsham aged 50 offered his services shortly after war was declared. He taught First Aid at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College (HAC) with many students and staff following his example.

He encouraged more than 50 local boys to enlist and formed the 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance. Appointed Major, he departed in September and commanded the Army Medical Corps. He spent two months at Gallipoli but was invalided out after 15 months due to illness.

Lt Harold Thomas Watkins enlisted and saw action at the Dardanelles. He had attended HAC, joined the 41st and appointed an Officer. After graduating he became an agricultural experimentalist at the College.

Watkins departed in December 1914 with the 13th Battalion but was killed in action on 25 April.

William Bowman Douglas was another local to heed the call. William had attended the HAC and was later promoted to the rank of Captain and appointed to the 41st Infantry.

He arrived in the Dardanelles in 1915 but was shot in the abdomen on the 3 May and transferred to a hospital ship where he died two days later, aged 33.

Douglas' widow erected a memorial in St Andrews Richmond, which records his death "from wounds received at Gallipoli...the supreme sacrifice."

Another staff member from the College at Gallipoli on April 25, was Lance-Corporal Beveridge.

He reported the terrain was "very rough country, rather like the Grose, steep & scrubby" and how they "became used to the smell of blood and the sound of shells and explosive bullets" and the dead bodies.

Beveridge who was shot in the foot, wrote that the flies were more annoying than the bullets.

Cecil Eather of Windsor, was a painter prior to enlisting, then joined the 3rd Battalion. He left Sydney in February but was wounded in action at Gallipoli and died at sea on May 8, 1915, aged 22.

Roy Streeter was born in South Windsor and volunteered in November. He was killed in action on Gallipoli on May 19, 1915, aged 20 years. Buried on Gallipoli he is recorded on his Mother's headstone in Windsor Catholic Cemetery as "In a hero's grave on Gallipoli."

Dr Piero Fiaschi volunteered his services in August 1914 and served with the Field Ambulance in Egypt and as Regimental Medical Officer with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli. He was later promoted to lieutenant-colonel and awarded an OBE.

His father, Dr Thomas Fiaschi in his early 60s, also volunteered to serve, departing in May 1915, he commanded the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Lemnos until he was invalided out, six months later.

Hawkesbury born Julia Bligh Johnston a nursing sister who served in South Africa, volunteered in her 50s and went with the Australian Army Nursing Service to Cairo to set up No. 2 Australian General Hospital, which dealt with many of the Gallipoli casualties.

These are just a few of the local soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.