Sunday, 25 April 2021

ANZAC Memorial Numurkah

I've been in nearby Numurkah quite a lot lately and I am always drawn to the "Saluting Their Service" Mural along the side wall of the IGA building at the corner of Melville and Saxton Streets.

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a full-length image but will remedy that and add one later.
It is certainly impressive.

Done in separate sections for each theatre of war it commemorates those from Numurkah who served.

Facing Memorial Park the mural includes over 151 individual and 34 background images, and a list of the names of Boer War soldiers.

World War 1 - Gallipoli
Portraits - Left to Right
W Williams, W Lineham, W Little, J Lineham

World War 1 - Middle East
M Bourchier, A Devine, A Price, A Waser, W Cumming, W Lynch, T Lineham

World War 1 - Western Front
Portraits - Left to Right
Top - W Sharp, J Miller, L Reynoldson, E Reynoldson, J Cope
Middle 1 - T Lumsden, S Betts, J Cumming, C McKenzie, W Sutton, L Caygill, 
D Henderson, T Lynch, V Nelson
Middle 2 - D Bristol, H Tyers, G Burkitt, E Holmes, A Cumming.
Bottom - E Eddy, W Sutcliffe, E Suttcliffe, H Green, W Stratton, A Cope, G Cope

World War 2 - Australia
Portraits - Left to Right
Top - G Patterson, G Saxton, A Gribben, J Gribben, I Gribben, W Crozier, K Phillips.
Middle  - G Heard, W Learmonth, I Powell, R Thomson, E Patrick, K Harris
Bottom - W Webb, W McCaskill, J Henderson, E Morris

World War 2 - Europe
Portraits - Left to Right
W Hunkin, D Mann, H Dyson, E Visser, F Green, A Vickerman
I Learmonth, G Hunkin, K Moss

World War 2 - Middle East & North Africa
Top - B Beverley, R Mackay, J Laidlaw, H Gray, B Saxton, F Brown, H Hill, J Christie
Bottom - J Thornton, A Staggard, H Gribben, R Robinson

World War 2 - Pacific - New Guinea
Portraits - Left to Right
Top - V Lee,  A Browne, E Curtis, C Newman, R Ladgrove, T Rose, A Wellington
Middle - C Flack, R Harris, B Betts, R Kennedy, K Laidlaw
J Wearne, R Laidlaw, A Aldridge, J Lumsden
Bottom - C Sharp, W Sharp, E Cowan, W Saxton, C Tweddle, A Campbell
F Rowe,  D Wilkinson

World War 2 - Pacific - South East Asia
Portraits - Left to Right
Top - L Stewart, J Gray, K Tyers, J Sharp, C McPherson
Middle - R Cowan, G Shannon, L Venables
Bottom - G Dickie, S Gainey, R Haynes, C Moss, F Christie, A Miller

World War 2 - Pacific 
Portraits - Left to Right
Top - V Love, B Morris, W Dudley, K Jenkins
Middle - S Thomas, R Monk, C Heard, G Campbell, A Boase.
Bottom - G McArthur, L Reynoldson, G O'Brien, K Paternoster

Korea, Far East, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan
Portraits - Left to Right
Top - B Tremellen, L Bristol
Middle 1 - P Dealy, R Bensley.  Middle 2 - G Monk, J Campbell
Bottom - R Hayllar, J Stanyer
Top Far Right - B Swann & Afghan Boy.  Middle Far Right - T Learmonth
Bottom Far Right - R Learmonth

Across the road, the memorial park is also impressive.


Brimming with youthful enthusiasm, the images of the 15 local soldiers who adorn this memorial were largely captured on their enlistment day in Melbourne on June 28, 1940, immediately following their respective wheat crops being sown.
Mostly the sons of district farmers, an inseparable bond of friendship had earlier been forged, when they and their magnificent horses were the first to join the Numurkah troop of the 20th Light Horse Field Regiment in 1938.

Following the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 and news that mounted regiments were being disbanded, the decision was made to enlist in the Australian Army as a group.  In full Light Horse uniform, 14 members of the 20th made the train journey to Melbourne, arriving at the Town Hall recruiting depot where Lady Mayoress Cole was waiting to meet them.  Later pictured marching side by side up Bourke Street, their story was featured in the Herald that afternoon and The Sun the following morning.

After their initial training at Royal Park, Melbourne and Benalla, where "The Numurkah Mob" name was appropriately coined, Jack Thornton and Jack Laidlaw were sent to Officer Training School, and Jim Sharp, on request, joined his father in the Field Ambulance Corps.  Completing infantry training at Wangaratta, the balance of  "The Mob" went to Puckapunyal for artillery training, joining the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment on February 4, 1941.  On parade, one member was ordered to volunteer for this regiment and with the call, "One in, all in" the other 10 stepped forward in unison.  Col McPherson, of the Numurkah Platoon of the 59th Infantry Militia Battalion, enlisted on August 18, 1940 and transferred to the 4th Anti-Tank Regiment on April 10, 1941 becoming the final member of "The Numurkah Mob".

On June 9, 1941, all 12 disembarked from the SS Zealandia in Singapore and were soon dispatched inland onto the Malay Peninsula.  Intensive training on their two-pounder anti-tank guns was soon put to the test following the massive Japanese invasion on December 8, 1941.  Facing overwhelming odds they fought bravely, retreating with the allied forces to Singapore Island, prior to the surrender to Japan on February 15, 1942.

Mob members Frank Christie, Reg Cowan, George Dickie, Stan Gainey, Johnny Gray, Ron Haynes, Col McPherson, Allan Miller, Cliff Moss, Barry Shannon, Keith Tyres, and Les Venables had remained intact, immediately becoming prisoners of war where separation was soon to become inevitable.

For the next three and a half years their bond of mateship and resolve to survive would be tested to the extreme.  During this period they were forced to endure cruel brutality, near starvation, tropical diseases, and horrendous conditions in Changi Prison at camps along the construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway and in the docks and coal mines of Japan.  Sadly, Keith Tyres died on Borneo's infamous Sandakan death march, Johnny Gray succumbed to beri-beri at Hell-Fire Pass, and Jim Sharp was killed in action as an Ambulance Driver during the bombing of Singapore.

Captain Jack Thornton fought Rommel's forces at Tobruk and El Alamein, returning to fight the Japanese in New Guinea and Borneo.  Lieutenant Jack Laidlaw served in the Middle East and was promoted to Temporary Captain for the New Guinea campaign.

The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 led to Japan's official signed surrender on September 2, 1945.  This ultimately saved the lives of the 10 remaining Numurkah Mob prisoners of war, who after years of torment, finally returned home to their families and loved ones.

To a man, all of these gallant soldiers went on to be outstanding community-minded citizens, supporting each other and their fellow soldiers by holding annual POW reunions in the town for 50 years from 1940.

In Dedicating this memorial to "The Numurkah Mob" the families of the soldiers honoured, together with the entire Numurkah district, salute their service and sacrifice proudly remembering the unbreakable bond of mateship they shared.  September 7, 2014



  1. Thanks for posting this Kerryn. As a Shepp girl some of the names are familiar to me. I’ve seen the stone memorial but haven’t seen the other at IGA. It looks amazing

    1. Jennifer it is wonderful. I'll take a photo of the full wall and add it to this. Can't think why I didn't do it the other day when I was taking these.

  2. I've never seen so much detail on a war memorial. There must be some wonderful volunteers in that community

    Thank you, Chris
    A great tribute...

  4. Thanks for this interesting and detaile3d post Kerryn. I found info on a few in-laws amongst it and the portraits were a bonus.