THE first ANZAC Day was celebrated in 1916 on the anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp’s (ANZAC) landing at Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915.
The biography here, is based on research by local authors John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher, and features local World War I Light Horse Trooper Wilfred Wilkinson.
Born in Bowna in 1895, Wilkinson was just 19 years old when he enlisted locally in the 1st Light Horse.
He would go on to fight in the famous Light Horse battle, the Battle of Beersheba, which the Australians won.
Wilkinson died, Killed In Action on 18 June 1918.
But before that, Wilkinson saw quite a bit of military action, was wounded in battle, convalesced and included a one-time stint of illness related to lifestyle choices of the stereotypical larrikin digger.
His first experience of front line conflict came on 7 August 1915 when the 1st Light Horse charged the hills of Lone Pine.
Of the 200 men, only 50 survived this horrific assault.
After convalescing from battle wounds, he returned on 1 March 1916 to the 1st Light Horse Regiment now based in Heliopolis after the Gallipoli evacuation.
This would be a very different war to the one he had fought at Gallipoli.
The light horsemen were now mounted and eager to avenge their losses at Gallipoli.
Turkish soldiers would find them an even more formidable enemy.
Wilkinson continued to participate in numerous battles throughout 1916, 1917, and 1918 in the Middle East region.
As News Of The Area history buffs will know, Beersheba fell on 31 October 1917, allowing the British and dominion forces to outflank and roll-up the Turkish defensive line.
Wilkinson participated in this attack.
On 18 June, 1918 the regimental headquarters of the 1st Light Horse Regiment was attacked with 75mm shells killing one man, our local hero Wilfred Wilkinson.
Wilfred is now buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery.
He is remembered at the Medowie Public School Honour Roll, the Williamtown Public School Honour Roll, and Memorial Panel 3 of Australian War Memorial.
Lest We Forget Wilkinson and his comrades.
For more information and to read about local diggers go to https://legends-lessons.myshopify.com.
By Heather SHARP