There was no such place as Mount Isa when the First World War was fought – it was not founded until 1923.
But Cloncurry did exist at the time and sent hundreds of men off to the war, many of which sadly never came home.
The story of 50 of their number whose names are inscribed on Cloncurry’s War Memorial is the subject of Curry historian Shirley Powley’s book Think Kindly Of Me.
The foreword to Ms Powley’s book features a quote from Australian war correspondent Charles Bean: “I have often thought that many a youngster when he was hit out there on the Passchendaele heights … and he knew that the end had come – must have thought to himself: ‘well at least they'll remember me in Australia’.”
Ms Powley set herself to that task making sure 50 names of the many thousands of Australian dead in that war are remembered in this corner of the country.
We featured the story of one of their number William McGregor Moore who died in the muddy fields of Flanders in 1917 and whose letter home features the words “think kindly of me” that led to the title of the book.
Moore’s tale is a sad but typical; serving at Messines, the futile battle to hold the high ground near Ypres in Belgium before enduring continual rain, flooded trenches and heavy shelling at a new front near the French border at Warneton. Casualties were heavy and Moore’s death was anonymous, killed in battle on August 1, 1917.
Ms Powley uses his letters to make him human again, a real man with a real wife and a real loving family.
In Saturday’s edition we published an opinion piece by a more famous historian Prof Peter Stanley who questions the heroic narrative of the First World War.
He said the war failed to bringing any lasting peace and destroyed Australia’s optimism and “killed or demoralised its most promising minds and bodies.”
Perhaps. But at the local level we can proudly commemorate the people from our community who firmly believed they were doing the right thing.
The cause was dubious and their deaths were horrible but their lives must be cherished. They are a powerful reminder they weren’t much different from us – Derek Barry