Euroa's Victoria Cross cluster

23 Apr, 2015 02:00 AM
Honouring Our Heroes committee member Brian Bamford (left) and the community group's president Neville Harris, both of Euroa.
We punched above our weight with the number of men serving in WWI
Honouring Our Heroes committee member Brian Bamford (left) and the community group's president Neville Harris, both of Euroa.

THE north-east Victorian town of Euroa and district has produced the highest number of Victorian Cross recipients of any town or district in the Commonwealth.

And thanks to the tireless years of work from the community, bronze statues of its three VC recipients stand proudly in a memorial park and will provide the backdrop of this year's Anzac centenary celebrations.

The VC is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and is Australia's highest military honour, with only 100 ever being awarded to Australians for acts of tremendous courage and gallantry from the Boer War to the recent conflicts in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Leslie Cecil Maygar was the first Victorian to receive a VC and it was presented in recognition of his actions in the Boer War, when he rode out under heavy fire to order the retreat of a detached post and rescued a wounded comrade.

When World War I broke out, he re-enlisted and served with a wonderful record until he was killed at Beersheba, Palestine.

Lieutenant Frederick Harold Tubb and Corporal Alexander Stewart Burton earned the VC in the same action at Lone Pine on August 9, 1915 as they repeatedly repelled Turkish troops re-building a barrier under a hail of bombs.

Each time their sandbag shelter was blown up, they rebuilt it and kept fighting. Cpl Burton was killed in the same action, and Lt Tubb was killed two years later in the war.

The construction of the statues and a VC Memorial Park was driven by a community group that toiled for about five years to raise funds, research and plan the memorial. The group brought together people from all walks of life, including farmers, supermarket workers and executives.

Honouring Our Heroes committee president Neville Harris, Euroa, said he was proud of the great community effort to honour the town's VC heroes.

"The project was put on the backburner for a few years while we worked to restore the Avenue of Honour, but we realised erecting three life-size bronze statues would be very expensive and sources of funds proved difficult to find," Mr Harris, a former wheat, sheep and citrus farmer of the Southern Riverina, said.

"By early 2013, we were getting a bit despondent, but in April a feature about Honouring Our Heroes was printed in a Sunday newspaper which created an immediate response."

The Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen and Women (TPI) Association pledged $30,000; the Strathbogie Shire budgeted $30,000 and the Burton family (relations of VC recipient who continue to run the grocery shop in Euroa that stands on the same site as when Cpl Alex Burton worked there) gave $30,000.

Community events, including a Goods and Services auction that made close to $30,000, and other donations gave the base for the committee to successfully apply for a Regional Development Victoria grant of $150,000; and an Anzac Centenary Commission grant of $20,000.

A total of $300,000 was raised and the memorial was finished ahead of the Anzac Day 2015 goal, being officially opened last November to a crowd of thousands of people, including dignitaries and members of the Maygar, Tubb and Burton families.

Committee member Brian Bamford's interest in the three VC recipients was piqued as a young child, when he was sent to water the three oak trees in front one of the town's schools. The oak trees each had a brass plaque honouring the men.

About a decade ago, Mr Bamford retired from teaching and took over his family's farm south of the town where he runs Angus cattle, gave him more time to research these men.

"I feel very proud of Euroa's military history. We punched above our weight with the number of men serving in WWI," he said.

In 1911, the Euroa Shire and neighbouring Violet Town Shire had a combined population of 7577 people and by the end of WWI, 1100 people from them were identified as having contributed to the war effort.

"We need to share this history throughout Victoria and beyond."

He said it was heartening to see busloads of people visit the memorial, or individuals still reading the information boards and taking it in during the time it took him to do errands in town.

Lieutenant Leslie Cecil Maygar

Unit: 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles

Born: May 26, 1872 at Dean Station, Kilmore

Date of action: November 23, 1901

Place: Geelhoutboom, Natal

Details: During an intense action Maygar galloped out to a detached group pf soldiers that was being outflanked by the enemy, and ordered the men to retire. The horse of one of the partly-surrounded soldiers was shot from under him and Maygar, despite constant enemy fire, reigned in his horse and lifted the stranded soldier unto his own mount. The horse bolted into boggy ground and both men had to dismount. Maygar, realising that the frightened horse could carry only one person, ordered the soldier to mount and gallop for cover. Maygar followed on foot, evading the heavy rifle fire around him.

Maygar also serviced in WW1. He served at Gallipoli where he was promoted to major and eventually commanded the 8th Light Horse Regiment as a Lieutenant Colonel. In later operations in Sinai and Palestine he temporarily commanded a Brigade. Maygar received other decorations and honours during the war but was severely wounded by an attacking German aircraft at the Battle of Beersheba in Palestine on October 31, 1917 and died the following day.

Died: November 1, 1917 of wounds at Beersheba

Buried or Commemorated: Beersheba War Cemetery, Palestine.

Lieutenant Frederick Harold Tubb

Unit: 7th Battalion

Born: July 10, 1889 at Longwood

Date of action: August 9, 1915

Place: Lone Pine trenches, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey

Details: During a Turkish counter-attack on August 9, Tubb was in command of a section of trench which was the scene of some intense fighting. When the enemy blew in a sandbag barricade Tubb led his men back, repulsed the enemy and had the barricade rebuilt. The enemy attacked and again twice blew in the barricades, but Tubb, bleeding from bomb wounds in the arm and scalp, continued to fight. Supported by Corporals Dunstan and Burton (both also VC recipients), he succeeded in rebuilding the barricade. A bomb blast killed Burton and wounded Dunstan. Tubb obtained further men from the next post, Tubb's Corner. The enemy attack had weakened, however, and although heavy bombing continued the position was held.

Died: September 21, 1917

Buried or commemorated: Lijessenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium.

Corporal Alexander Stewart Burton

Unit: 7th Battalion

Born: January 20, 1893 at Kyneton

Date of action: August 9, 1915

Place: Lone Pine trenches, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey

Details: Along with Lieutenant Frederick Harold Tubb and Corporal William Dunstan, Corporal Burtomn was one of three Australian soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross for the particular action during the fighting at Lone Pine (described above). Burton was killed by a bomb while he was building up the parapet. He has no known grave, but his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli.

Died: August 9, 1915

Buried or commemorated: Lone Pine Memorial,Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.



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