Roseworthy recognises fallen alumni

25 Apr, 2015 02:00 AM
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FOR young men and women eager for adventure, World War I seemed a legitimate pathway to travel free to foreign countries while fulfilling their patriotic duty.

Roseworthy Anzac Centenary event organiser Dick Turnbull said the students of Roseworthy College and University of Adelaide were no different to their peers, rushing to join up to fight for king and country.

"Within 12 months of the declaration of war, 62 past students of Roseworthy Agricultural College had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force," he said.

"By the end of the war, 228 had enlisted out of a total student intake for the period 1900 to 1918 of nearly 300 - an enlistment rate of about 84 per cent, compared to the national average of 38.7pc.

"They were a keen lot."

Before the war in 1911, British military leader Lord Kitchener reviewed Australia's defence requirements and made a period of military duty compulsory for all young men. Boys between the ages of 12 and 18 served in cadet units and young men aged 19 to 26 had to serve a period in the Citizen Military Forces.

Mr Turnbull said this force was created to supplement the small regular forces Australia had at the time.

"Most students at Roseworthy in those years leading up to WWI would have been doing their compulsory military service while at college," he said.

"They would have felt more obliged to enlist as they had already acquired some of the skills of war. This continued after the Great War."

Mr Turnbull said in his time researching for the upcoming Anzac celebrations, he came across the Roseworthy Student magazine series - a joint student and Roseworthy Old Collegian Association publication now available in digital format on the University of Adelaide website, which dates back before World War I to the 1890s.

"An article in the August 1915 edition mentioned that RC Jacob, who having been previously reported as having gone to the front, was in fact still back on his farm at Geranium, battling a 'king drought'," he said.

"Mr Jacob had requested the record to be corrected. 1915 was a bad drought year in SA and was tough on many farming families. He, like many others, had to think twice before heading to the recruiting office."

Robert Cooper Jacob eventually enlisted on April 21, 1917, joining the 10th battalion in France, and returned to his farm in July 1919.

Mr Turnbull said the August edition of the magazine also contained a well-worded and historically accurate article Why Britain is at War.

"However there are relatively few articles on the war in the Student publication during those 4.5 years of conflict, which is somewhat surprising since many letters and other news would have been received by the past students who assisted in the publication of the magazine," he said.

Of the 228 who enlisted from Roseworthy, 39 died as a result of their service.

This figure, and eventual World War II consequences, had a deep effect on the Roseworthy College community.

In 1915, the Roseworthy Old Collegians Association started gathering names of those enlisted and fallen, which eventuated in a large wooden honour roll being placed in the foyer of the main building, now called Roseworthy Hall.

Toward the end of World War II it started fundraising for a memorial chapel, which opened in 1957.

At the back of the chapel is a bronze-and-brass honour roll with the name of all those who enlisted during the South African War and the two world wars.

The memorial library on campus was commissioned by the Tassie family in memory of their son John, who was killed in the battle for Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day 1918.

All of these buildings will be open to the public at the Anzac Centenary Celebrations at Roseworthy campus on Sunday, April 26.

Organised by Roseworthy Old Collegians Association and the University of Adelaide, the event will highlight the service of past Roseworthy Agricultural College students and staff who enlisted for the Great War a century ago.

Mr Turnbull said the day would also honour all those who served their country in times of conflict after studying or working at the campus.

Association president Mark Rodda said Roseworthy had a proud tradition of recognising the service of past scholars and staff of the community, as evidenced by the various honour boards and plaques around the campus and in the College Memorial Chapel opened in 1957.

"ROCA and the University could not let this Anzac Centenary pass us by without marking this very historical and important period in our history in some way," he said.

"It is our duty to commemorate and honour that sacrifice and I urge all ROCA members, friends of the college, students and staff of the campus at Roseworthy and members of the public to attend what will a very memorable occasion."

Details: ROCA president Mark Rodda, 0417 414 123, or mark.rodda@bigpond.com; Anzac event coordinator Dick Turnbull, 0437 755 034, or randcturnbull@bigpond.com

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Alisha Fogden

Alisha Fogden

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