THE biographies of 78 servicemen from Bega and Bemboka who died serving King and Country in World War 1 are included in a booklet launched in Bega this week.
The booklet, We Will Remember Them, is the second volume of a three-volume project that identifies about 200 men from the NSW South Coast who were killed while on active service during WW1 and is assembling mini-biographies of each of them.
“There are some extremely interesting stories included in this booklet,” author Peter Lacey told the Bega District News.
“There is everything from soldiers who died within a month of joining the army and never got further than to a camp in Sydney, to those who survived the horrors of the war only to die of die of disease before they could return home.
“There are many examples of heroic acts by these local lads, and countless acts of bravado and stupidity.
“And a few seemed to be just unlucky, virtually spending the entire time they were in the army being treated for illness or injury in numerous different hospitals.
“We have one ‘local’, whose name appears on the Bega War Memorial, who joined the army under a false name and actually turned out to be a Swiss citizen - and whose army record now includes some heart-wrenching correspondence from his parents when they ultimately discovered that he had enlisted and then been killed at Gallipoli.
“Significantly, at least one local from Bega or Bemboka was killed in almost every major action of WW1 that involved Australians.
“Locals were killed at Fromelles, Pozieres, Flers, Messines, in the Battles of Menin Road and Polygon Wood, in the Battle of Amiens and at Mont St Quentin, for example.
“And a total of 12 local lads lost their lives during the Gallipoli campaign.
“In fact, nine of these boys from Bega and Bemboka were among the original Anzacs who landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915,” Mr Lacey said.
We Will Remember Them: Volume 2 was launched on Wednesday by ABC South East Radio breakfast presenter Ian Campbell at a gathering in the military room of the Bega Museum.
The booklet is free and is available at the Bega Museum, the Cobargo and Bermagui Visitor Centres and from Well-Thumbed Books in Cobargo.
“The information in the booklet really gives meaning to many of the names on the Bega and Bemboka War Memorials, and is a valuable local contribution to the forthcoming national commemorations that will mark the centenary of WW1,” Mr Lacey said.
“I’ve had a lot of help in compiling the information from locals, such as members of the Bega Historical Society, and am particularly indebted to the Narooma RSL Sub-branch, which facilitated the printing of this booklet through the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs Saluting Their Services Program.”
The first volume in the We Will Remember Them series, providing details of those the area between Bodalla and Quaama who lost their lives on active service in WW1, was released earlier this year.
The third volume, covering the Candelo area south to the Victorian border, will be published early next year.