Greg Towner with a copies of The World War 1 Diary of Corporal Claude Schwonberg, and Finding Dugie and Claude. The author and historian is seeking photos and information of various soldiers listed on the Maclean cenotaph.
Greg Towner with a copies of The World War 1 Diary of Corporal Claude Schwonberg, and Finding Dugie and Claude. The author and historian is seeking photos and information of various soldiers listed on the Maclean cenotaph.

Author needs our help to tell soldiers’ stories

FORMER Maclean writer and historian Greg Towner needs to some help to complete his latest project, which he believes will shed light on the history of his home town.

Mr Towner, who lives in Sydney, is putting the finishing touches to a book that will tell the stories of the 69 World War 1 veterans who died in the trenches more than a century ago and whose names are inscribed on the monument.

“I’ve got all the stories done but I’m missing photographs for about 32 of them,” he said.

“I haven’t been able to find any photos of them through normal channels like the national archives.

“I’m hoping their families might still live in the area and have photographs stashed away somewhere I could use.”

Mr Towner became fascinated researching this period of history when he set about finding about two of his great uncles Dugald and Claude Schwonberg, both killed on the Western Front.

He published his research in a book titled Finding Dugie and Claude, which is available online through the National Library in Canberra.

Mr Towner said the names on the cenotaph have fascinated him since he was a child in the 1950s and 60s.

Maclean Cenotaph.
Maclean Cenotaph.

A feature of those long ago services was returned serviceman Gordon Bancroft reading out each name listed.

“His staccato manner of reading the names of the fallen created a lasting memory and belief that each name was important," he said.

“My aim has been to write a short biography on each.

“As well as providing details of their service, the manner and place of death, and the location of a grave and/or memorial, I’ve tried to obtain as much biographical details as possible on each soldier and establish their connection with Maclean.”

Mr Towner said his research revealed many interesting insights into Maclean and its development.

Greg Towner researching in the Beaulencourt war cemetery.
Greg Towner researching in the Beaulencourt war cemetery.

“Each soldier’s story provides an insight to life and attitudes of Maclean citizens at the time, to impacts of the soldier’s death on family members, and to the various battles in which the Australians were involved.”

Mr Towner said he still needs photographs of the following soldiers as well as information on two men whose names are listed but don’t appear in the army records, Breybrook, C and Stuart, D.

“There is no record of anyone with the name Breybrook, C, ever serving with the AIF, and the likely explanation is that he served with an unknown pseudonym,” Mr Towner said.

“There were a number of men with a connection to the district who may possibly have been the D. Stuart listed on the cenotaph, but none that I have found that died as a result of their service.

“The identity and connection with Maclean is uncertain for William R. Chandler, Harry Finch and F. Mackay, possibly Farqhar Mackay.”

Mr Towner said he would like photographs of the following men:

Hector Horace Burns, Charles Buckland, Victor Roy Baker, William Henry Bowles, Theo Albert Cramp, James Cuthbert, James Edward Duncan, Frederick William Davis, Horace James Dean, Edwin Henry Fryer, Ernest Phillip Gard, Cedric Dalmahoy Gardiner, Auburn Gilbert, Clifden Victor Harris, Patrick Harrington, Clarence William Jones, Arthur Frederick Johnson, John Alexander Law, Frank McKinnon, Alexander Allan Mackay, Patrick Joseph O’Driscoll, James O’Neill, Henry James Oswin, William T Rayner, Clarence Samuel Snow Redman, Frank Rowles, Archibald Hugh Sheather, John Eady, John Shaw, Samuel Percy Starr, Henry Thompson, John Wyatt, William Edward Warner.

Mr Towner said he would make his research on any of the soldiers mentioned in the book available to descendants.

He said people should send photos or more information to gregtowner@optusnet.com.au.



‘Viable and effective’: the Anglican Church’s full statement on closures

Premium Content ‘Viable and effective’: the Anglican Church’s full statement on...

Decision brings and end to more than 100 years of history in Coramba and Glenreagh...

Animals, plants queue up for bushfire recovery grants

Premium Content Animals, plants queue up for bushfire recovery grants

More money to save native species a year on from devastating bushfires

Will the Coffs/Clarence get its ‘Indiana Jones experience’?

Premium Content Will the Coffs/Clarence get its ‘Indiana Jones experience’?

Quest to open ‘one heck of a community asset’ to the public gathers steam