The Arcadia ANZAC’s

April 25th 2015. ANZAC Day.

On this centenary of Australian troops landing at Gallipoli Cove we wish to honor those men and women who so unselfishly answered the call to arms. It has been stated many times that this defining moment in our history was when “We as a nation became of age”. Much has been written about the military battles of World War 1. The landing by Allied Troops on Gallipoli early on the morning of April 25th 1915 and the bloody battles that raged there for the next eight months, the battles of the Western Front where names such as Villers – Bretonneux, Fromelle, Normandie and Ypres have become very significent in our history.

This rememberence is a tribute to the men and one woman from this district who unselfishly gave of themselves when they answered the call to arms. On this 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli we remember and honor them, some of whom did not return but lie at rest in a foreign land, but are never forgotten.

Following the end of the World War 1 an Honor Board was presented to the Arcadia State School, it was officially unveiled on September 14th 1921. Following the closure of the school this memorial was relocated to the Arcadia Community Centre where it still remains. Listed on the board are the names of those who were students at the school, along with the names of the men who were employed here or lived in the district.

Past students of the Arcadia State School who served in World War 1.

Names highlighted with a small * after their name paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Sister M.C.G.Wilkinson, L.Barber, W.Doidge, C.W.Henderson, G.H.Henderson, A.S.Henderson, W.Kay, J.P.Kearne, C.H.Linford, G.W.McCluskey, S.J.Miller, W.B.Miller, G.H.Miller, R.L.Miller, J.T.McMahon, G.Pott, R.Semmell, S.Scrivener, P.I.Wilkinson, E.Wignell, W.Winnell, G.Winnell and N.DeCampi.

Names of the men of the district who served in World War 1.

W.Beattie, J.Brooks, E.Briggs, W.Clarke, P.Cullen, C.Giovannin, G.Horsley, H.F.Hassett, J.P.Keady, W.J.Linford, R.C.Lethbridge, N.A.McLean, R.Pinkerton, H.Rayner and T.H.Zoch.

There were other men who enlisted in World War 1 who are not listed on the Honor Board, but who had connections with Arcadia. Some of these soldiers that we know of are: The two Clarke brothers, James and John who were brothers of Bill Clarke of Arcadia. John was killed in action at the battle of Fromelles, France on July 19th 1916. James known locally as Patsy returned to Australia on March 28th 1919.

Memorial Card

This Memorial Card was sent to the family of John Clarke following his death as a soldier in the A I F. The Arcadia Patriotic Committee raised funds to support the men who enlisted in the 1st World War. This certificate was signed by Caroline Park who was the President of the committee at this time, the secretary’s signature is unclear.

Denis Quinlan who was born and educated at Caniambo was killed in action on September 20th 1917 at Ypres Belgium, he was the brother of Jim Quinlan of Arcadia.

There were two Kerr brothers whose parents owned The Arcadia Homestead. Samuel age twenty three years when he left Australia, he returned on September 6th 1919. His brother Joseph Chester (known as Chess) age twenty years was killed in action on August 26th 1916 at Villers – Bretonneux, France.

John Chester Kerr
Photo and tribute to John Chester (Chess) Kerr

In the early 1900’s Arcadia had quite a transient population, the new rail facility, the closer settlement of the farming community, clearing the land and saw mills along with employment at the Butter Factory, brought people to Arcadia some stayed while others remained for awhile before moving on. Consequently some names of the people on the Honor Board were not long term residents of Arcadia. Some in fact gave Moorilim as their address.

The Honor Board lists four Miller men who were brothers and were past students of the Arcadia State School. They were the sons of John and Jane Miller and grandsons of the squatter James Miller whose homestead was at Arcadia.

The eldest of the brothers, Samuel enlisted in the AIF on March 28th 1917 after serving with the 26th Battalion he returned to Australia on December 12th 1918. Walter Beecham Miller age 26 years who was a Blacksmith at Violet Town enlisted on March 3rd 1915, embarked from Melbourne on June 17th 1915 as part of the 6th Reinforcement, 14th Battalion. This Battalion went ashore at ANZAC Cove on the afternoon of April 25th 1915, this was the unit where Albert Jacka from Euroa won the VC for gallantry, and was known as “Jacka’s Mob”. Miller was wounded at Gallipoli and evacuated to England where he died as a result of his wound on September 14th 1915.

George Hedley Miller enlisted on August 17th 1914 age twenty years, his address at the time was “Arcadia”, Kooyong Rd. Malvern, Victoria, and was employed as a clerk. His unit was the Field Artillery Brigade 2, Battery 5, they embarked from Melbourne on October 20th 1914. He was on operations in Egypt from December 14th 1914 to April 8th 1915, the Unit then landed at Gallipoli on April 25th 1915. Miller was mentioned twice in despatches from Gallipoli, however he and the Battery Commander Major H.O.Caddy became ill with dysentery and were evacuated to England for six weeks. Following his recovery he served on the Western Front, their first action was the disaster at Fromelles on July 19th, where there were 5533 casualties in one night. The Unit saw action at Ypres, Villers – Bretonneux and Bellicourt where Miller was awarded the Military Cross for his work. He was also awarded The Belgium Croix de Guerre for actions at Ypres, and was promoted to Captain in October 1918. He returned to Australia on January 8th 1919, a highly decorated soldier after serving for four years and five months in the A I F. In later life he spent some time as manager of the NAB at Dookie.

George Hedley Miller

The youngest of the Miller brothers to join up was Robert, who enlisted on May 12th 1917, age twenty years. His unit was the 1st-4th Signal troops and he was part of Reinforcements for that unit. There was no date given for his return to Australia.

George William McCluskey

Trooper George William McCluskey of Arcadia enlisted on September 4th 1915, embarked from Melbourne November 10th 1915. He joined the 8th Light Horse Regiment, 12th Reinforcement and served in Gallipoli, The Sinai and Palestine. He returned to Australia February 15th 1918.

Walter Kay

Walter Kay was a farmer from Arcadia East, he enlisted in the AIF as a Private on February 19th 1916. Following his training he joined D Company, 37th Battalion AIF. He embarked from Melbourne on June 3rd 1916, aged twenty six years. Walter saw service on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Medal for courage and leadership during the battle for Messines, Belgium.

The citation printed in The Commonwealth Gazette of December 20th read; ‘On the 7th/8th and 9th June, 1917, during operations south of Messines, this NCO did excellent work in the supervision and conducting of carrying parties to the Green Line after his senior NCO’s had become casualties. During the entire period he showed great leadership and resource, and displayed great courage whilst under heavy enemy shell fire. His action ensured the supply of fighting material for the advanced troops’ . Walter Kay was promoted to Sergeant and returned to Australia on January 14th 1919 and resumed his life as a farmer at Kialla East.

Sister M.C.G Wilkinson. The Australian Army Nursing Service.

The first name on the Arcadia World War 1 Honor Board of those who enlisted to serve is Sister Mabel Wilkinson, she was a sister of Phillip Wilkinson also a past student of the Arcadia State School. Mabel was the daughter of Mr Phillip H Wilkinson and Mrs C Wilkinson, a farming family who resided at ‘Eula Lea’ Arcadia South, she was one of several nurses from the Mooroopna Hospital who enlisted to care for sick and wounded soldiers. Mabel enlisted in The Australian Army Nursing Service on October 1st 1918 and was age 26 years when she embarked from Australia. No other details about Mabel were available on The Australian War Memorial web site.

Phillip enlisted on January 12th 1915, his unit was the 13th Light Horse, C Squadron, he was aged 23 years when he embarked from Melbourne on board Transport A34 Persic, on May 28th 1915. Phillip returned to Australia on January 15th 1919.

World War 1 Homour Board.

In an article in the Shepparton Advertiser of March 8th 1917, with the heading “From Groom to Captain” Capt.Phillip Wilkinson, tells of his training at Broadmeadows where he refused ‘stripes’ so that he might get away to war sooner. He was the groom to Capt. Nichols and was among the second lot of Australians to land at Gallipoli where he was promoted to corporal, he fought in Egypt where he was made a sergeant. Then sailed to France and was involved in the famous Battle of Pozieres where he was promoted to lieutenant. After eighteen months of serving in the army he was promoted to captain. The writer of the article comments that “This is a unique achievement from groom to captain in so short a time”.

In April 1919 a welcome home was held in the Arcadia State School to honor Mabel and her brother Phillip. Also welcomed home at this function was Sgt. Walter Kay and Gunner Norman McLean.