Medal Ceremony At Sketchley Cottage To Honour Local World War I Soldier

Instrumental in the campaign to have soldiers awarded their medals to next of kin are local historians and authors, Mr John Gillam and Mrs Yvonne Fletcher.
Instrumental in the campaign to have soldiers awarded their medals to next of kin are local historians and authors, Mr John Gillam and Mrs Yvonne Fletcher.

 

THE local community is invited to Sketchley Cottage, Raymond Terrace on Saturday, 8 July from 10.00am to witness the honouring of World War I serviceman, Private Herbert Hamilton.

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For the first time, Private Hamilton’s medals will be presented.

Killed In Action in 1916, Hamilton, whose next of kin was his employer, has never had his war medals claimed.

That is, until now.

Local historians and authors, Mr John Gillam and Mrs Yvonne Fletcher, researched the soldier and uncovered anomalies in how medals were issued.

Mr Gillam and Mrs Fletcher were convinced the medals of Hamilton, and others, remained unissued.

In a first of its kind decision, they identified that the Defence Honours and Awards policy regarding the issuing of medals posthumously was adequate for genuine claimants.

As this policy had not been previously applied, they used Hamilton as a test case and with the full support of the Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society, application was made to have the medals issued to the museum to appropriately commemorate the service and sacrifice of the soldier.

Ms Meryl Swanson, MP, will officially handover the medals to the President of the Raymond Terrace Historical Society, Mr Ken Barlow, in a special ceremony open to the public.

In an interview, Mr John Gillam told News Of The Area, “The plight of Herbert Hamilton prompted us to see what we could do to have him remembered.”

When asked why it was important that a soldier be given recognition 100 years after his death, Mr Gillam said, “Recognition of service is deserved regardless of time.”

“How many people are so alone in the world they use their employer as next of kin?”

Of the project, Mr Gillam said, “Our project has not concluded yet.”

“We await word from Defence Honours and Awards as to whether these medals came from the original stock archived in the late 1920s.”

“We would like to encourage Port Stephens families to have their family war memorabilia preserved and displayed by the Raymond Terrace Historical Society.”

For those traveling to France on a battlefield tour, Hamilton’s name appears on memorial panel 152 of the Australian War Memorial, on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.

 

By Heather SHARP

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