Down the years: Anzacs come home to a community celebration

100 years ago

Afghan cameleers in caravan near Bourke.

Afghan cameleers in caravan near Bourke.

WAR NEWS: Advanced troops of the Second Army, under General Plumer, crossed the German frontier between Beho and Eupen. Eight additional submarines surrendered at Harwich, making the total 122. King George and the princes arrived at Arras and proceeded to Douai and Valenciennes.  The Belgian Royal Family entered Liege at the head of troops which defended the town in 1914. The Belgian cavalry brigade entered Aix-la-Chapelle. At the request of the German authorities half a million Germans are being forced to march home from Russia through snow and rain. They cannot use the railways, because returning Russians have taken over all rolling stock. Australian repatriated soldiers are arriving at Hull in big batches daily. Australian soldiers captured at Fleurbaix testify to the brutality of the Uhlan escort which marched them to Lille, also to French citizens who tried to give the Australians food. (4.12.1918)

LOCAL NEWS: The Anzacs are home at last – the chaps that held Gallipoli from the wonderful April 25, 1915, till the equally wonderful evacuation, and who then went to “somewhere in France” to “do a bit more”. The men to be welcomed are Corp. A.J. McKay, Corp. James Orr. Sergeant J. Pumpa, Driver I.L. Cox and Private G. Bergmann. A procession is to be formed at the Fire Station at 7.30 o’clock. The welcome will be given in Wonderland at 8 o’clock. Sergeant J. Pumpa (one of the original Anzacs) will arrive in Mildura this morning with his sister, Mrs Alf Perry. He was one of the first batch of 26 who enlisted in Mildura in August of 1914, so has had about four years and four months of service. Mildura turned up in thousands on Thursday evening to welcome returned Anzacs and other representatives of the AIF. The procession moved from the Fire Station, with a strong number of bandsmen, some 40 returned soldiers, a number of cadets and a fine array of school children. The Anzacs were accommodated in motor vehicles. When they arrived at Wonderland, the soldiers who were to be welcomed were “chaired” by their comrades and raised shoulder high to the platform amid much cheering and waving of tiny flags. Wonderland rapidly filled, some 2000 people assembling.  The band opened proceedings with the Marseillaise, followed by the national anthem. Then Mr. W. Hepburn sang in excellent voice The Boys of the Old Brigade. Miss Tessa Byrne followed with Keep the Home Fires Burning, which was taken up by the audience and sung with much enthusiasm. The Shire President spoke and said that now that the armistice had been signed they didn’t need to leave Australia again. He was glad that the return half of their ticket need not be used for they had done more than a share of fighting. (Hear, hear.) He named the soldiers one by one, each standing and saluting as his name was called. Lieut. 

DeChateau added his word of welcome to the returning soldiers who had put up the greatest fight in history under terrible ­conditions. At Gallipoli they did the imposs­ible and afterwards they journeyed to France, where they added fresh laurels to their reputation. If the war had ended, it was these men who had ended it. Australia’s share in the fighting would never be forgotten. Sergeant H. Tiller, as president of the Returned Soldiers’ Association, said that the welcome extended to comrades was hearty – whether they were Anzacs or men of later enlistment, everyone of them had done his little bit. Now that they had returned he would like to impress on civilians some practical means of recognising their work. Recently the returned soldiers had sent delegates to Melbourne to help organise the Repatriation Department. One of their objectives was to provide houses for the widows and children of the fallen. After a rousing welcoming cheer, Sergeant Pumpa briefly responded on behalf of his fellow Anzacs and himself. Sergeant Akeroyd spoke for the other returned men, feelingly acknowledging the warmth of the welcome. Australia Will be There was played by the band and sung by the audience, after which Lieut. Galbraith gave a stirring recitation of The Charge of the Light Brigade. The ­national anthem concluded the proceedings. (7.12.1918)

75 years ago

115TH AGH HEIDELBERG: Will officially become the property of the Department of the Army on Saturday when the Minister for the Interior (Senator J.S. Collings) will formally hand over the hospital to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Army, Mr Forde, at a ceremony to be held at the hospital at 3pm. The hospital has been used by the army for a considerable time and is the largest and most modern military hospital in Australia. The Department of the Interior was the Commonwealth department responsible for its construction. (3.12.1943)

BARRIER HOLIDAY TRAINS: Train passengers arriving at Adelaide from Broken Hill tell amazing stories of happenings at the Barrier Station as thousands of Broken Hill workers and families try to book tickets for the annual Christmas trip to Adelaide. Wartime conditions severely restricted train services and would-be travellers line up at the booking station many hours before the customary opening time. They find many ways of relieving the tedium of the wait. One man is said to have won enough at poker during a 38-hour wait to pay for the Adelaide holiday. He didn’t say whether the losing players could still afford the trip. (6.12.1943)

CAIRO AND TEHRAN CONFERENCES: A Reuter dispatch from Lisbon stated that President Roosevelt, Mr Churchill and Marshal Chiang Kai-shek have completed a long conference in Cairo, some of which was in a tent beside the pyramids and are now en route to Iran to meet Marshal Stalin. The three great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They are mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea and are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent. At the Tehran conference between President Roosevelt, Marshal Stalin and Mr Churchill, plans were concerted for the destruction of the German forces. Complete agreement was reached as to the scope and timing of operations, which will be undertaken from the east, west and south. “No power on earth can prevent our destroying the German armies by land, their U-boats by sea, and their war plants by air. Our attacks will be relentless and ever increasing.” (7.12.1943)

50 years ago

FLYING AWARD: A young Mildura woman won the Roby Manuel Trophy for the top student in the Mid Murray Flying Club on Saturday night. Mrs Jill Sparks, 23, the only woman member of the Mildura sector of the club, won the award from 21 men all of whom also received their wings at the flying club’s presentation night at Swan Hill. The Manuel Trophy is awarded to the most proficient student of the year. It is based on practical and theoretical performances. Last year Tony Matthews (then 17) son of Sunraysia’s air-taxi operator, Mr Alan Matthews, of Mildura, won the trophy. It was the first time it had come to Mildura. (2.12.1968)

MOSQUE MEMORIAL: The Afghan mosque in Broken Hill, one of the city’s most interesting tourist attractions, has been restored as a memorial to the pioneer Afghan camel-drivers. The camel-drivers carted wool and supplies throughout the inland and assisted in the opening-up of the west Darling region early this century. Many relics are displayed in the mosque. There are no practising Moslems in Broken Hill, but the mosque can be used by visiting Moslems as a place of worship. (3.12.1968)

WAR FLAG: Mildura RSL Club received a North Vietnam flag yesterday to add to its collection of war items. Three regular soldiers just back from Vietnam gave it to the club because they received such a warm reception there. The soldiers were lance-corporals Mick O’Brien, Alan Kalman, of Bundaberg, and Private Bill Shipp, of Sydney. They were among 360 troops who disembarked from their ship at Outer Harbor, Adelaide. (6.12.1968)

25 years ago

EARLY CHRISTMAS TREAT: Mildura’s Fisher House residents were given a Christmas treat on Wednesday when they had a luncheon cruise on the paddlesteamer Melbourne. Diversional therapist Miss Dianne Nowak said the residents were taken out for a bus trip on the first Wednesday of each month to a different destination around the district. The ages of the residents varied from the early 80s to those just over 100 and all looked forward to the outings. The Mildura Base Hospital prepares a picnic lunch for each of the residents and the willing volunteers of Sister Kath Zibell, bus driver Mr Joe Rouse, and first-year nursing student, Rebecca Asmanis and I do the rest with the excellent help of Captain Ed Hazelman and the crew of the PS Melbourne. (3.12.1993)

WATER RATS: In the third round of action for Sunraysia water polo, Water Rats continued their winning streak against the Sunraysia Country Women’s team. The girls made a gallant effort, scoring three well timed goals, including an arm stretching lob from Megan Tittensore sending the ball over the fingertips of the goalkeeper, Peter Anderton, to rest safely in the back of the net. Rats were just too strong in every aspect of play, soundly defeating the women 15-3. The clash between Beaver Magic and Wentworth was tight and hard fought, finishing in a well-deserved draw, 4-all. (4.12.1993)

HORSE-DRAWN HEARSE: The late Mr Peter Baldock loved horses and wanted to have a horse-drawn hearse at his own funeral. That wish was granted yesterday when mourners packed the Merbein Uniting Church while others stood outside. Mr Baldock was born in Mildura 53 years ago and spent much of his early school days at Dareton and Mildura Secondary College before becoming a motor mechanic. Members of the Murray Darling Trail Horse Riders Club formed a guard of honour outside the church as the coffin was placed on a fully restored horse-drawn funeral carriage. Mr Baldock is survived by his wife, Gloria, and four children. (8.12.1993)

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