Exhibition to salute war volunteers

ALMOST a century ago, one hundred young men from the communities of Yamba, Angourie, Iluka and Palmers Island said farewell to their peaceful, uncomplicated lives on the North Coast and enlisted in the defence force for World War I.

Some never returned from the nightmarish conflict, and those who did bore the physical and emotional scars from their experience for the rest of their lives.

An exhibition being prepared by the Port of Yamba Historical Society called Ghosts of World War I, to be launched in April 2012, will tell the stories of these brave volunteers from the lower Clarence.

Conducting research for the exhibition is the Historical Society’s Peter Edmunds, who has been wading through thousands of books and websites.

He even spent a week working with staff from the Australian War Memorial and National Archive in Canberra.

“There were a hundred volunteers from the area all together, which is quite a lot for the area really, considering the size of the place,” Mr Edmunds said.

“So there were a hundred who enlisted; four became prisoners of war, 36 were wounded and 16 were killed in action or died of their wounds.”

The volunteers were primarily from the communities on the lower end of the Clarence; many came from Palmers Island and Palmers Channel – an area which Mr Edmunds said was densely populated around the turn of last century – more so than Yamba itself.

Mr Edmunds said the study of letters, personal diaries, battalion war diaries and service records revealed many interesting stories.

“There’s a few of the guys, about eight of them I think, who landed in Gallipoli; two of them landed on the first morning,” he said. “The four prisoners of war were interesting to research; there were also a couple court-martialled which I’m still researching with the national archive.”

A number of medals were also awarded among the one hundred, including a Distinguished Combat Medal (DCM).

These stories and more will be told during the exhibition at the Port of Yamba Museum, through photos, letters and artefacts.

However there’s still plenty more research to be done before the exhibition opens and Mr Edmunds has urged anyone with information about the lower Clarence World War I volunteers listed below to contact him via email on peferro@bigpond.com or contact the museum on 6646.1399.

  • George Albert BALE, Lismore
  • Charles BUCKLAND, Palmers Island
  • Frank BUCKLAND, Palmers Island
  • William BURNS, Palmers Island
  • Hector BURNS, Palmers Island
  • Edmund CARR, Yamba
  • Edgar Clive CARR, Palmers Island
  • William Alcon COLLINS, Palmers Island
  • Albert Craig GARVEN, Palmers Island
  • Clarence Claude GILBERT, Palmers Island
  • George Joseph HARRINGTON, Yamba
  • Archibold Hugh SHEATHER, Palmers Island
  • Edward John SHEATHER, Palmers Island

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