Minggu, 03 Agustus 2014

Australia*s first volunteer in World War I: Keith Heritage*s story to be told at Last Post ceremony (ABC)

Captain Keith Heritage is remembered as the first Australian to enlist for WWIABC Captain Keith Heritage is remembered as the first Australian to enlist for WWI

The story of the man who is recognised as Australia's first volunteer soldier in World War I is to be told at a Last Post ceremony in Canberra today.

Launceston-born former Keith Heritage is being honoured at the Australian War Memorial as part of the commemorations for the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

Captain Heritage is credited as being the first Australian to enlist after war was declared on August 4, 1914.

He was an officer in the Militia in Launceston and was working in Sydney when war was declared.

Captain Heritage took part in Australia's first military operation in September 1914 as part of the force that secured the German communications facility in German New Guinea, which was then part of New Guinea.

In June 1915 he joined the newly formed 19th Battalion which landed on Gallipoli in August. He served there and then went to the Western Front.

Captain Heritage killed in French trenches by shrapnel

Captain Heritage was in the trenches at Pozieres in France on the night of July 26, 1916, when he was killed by shrapnel.

War Memorial records show that while making his rounds he noticed two of the soldiers on guard looked very tired and gave them food.

The archive's account then relates that as the two men lay down to rest nearby, a large high-explosive shell landed near Captain Heritage, killing him almost immediately.

His great-nephew Jim Heritage says his service as a Captain in New Guinea, France and Gallipoli is still remembered by the family.

"The only way it's getting passed on is from me to my children and my sister's children," he said.

"One of them knows about it because he's in the air force and interested in things like that."

Pedigree as winning oarsman around the country

Captain Heritage was born in 1882, one of eight children of George and Eleanora Heritage of Longford in Tasmania, where his father was an inspector at the Tasmanian Department of Education.

Captain Heritage was a well-known oarsman who rowed in a winning crew that competed in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, and Henley-on-Thames in England.

War memorial accounts also list him as parading with the Tasmanian Infantry Regiment, where he held the rank of colour sergeant in its machine-gun section.

In the years before World War I he lived in Sydney, where he worked as a traffic manager of the Union Steam Ship Company.


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