• Hawkesbury Agricultural College (HAC) ANZACs of the 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance

One of the staff of HAC, Dr William Helsham was a medical practitioner at Richmond, NSW, who taught first aid as ‘Medical Officer’ at the College until 1896 and then again from 1910-28 (with the exception of about 12 months while serving in Egypt and Gallipoli). Helsham established the Richmond Ambulance Division of St Johns Ambulance in 1913 and on the 20th August 1914, just weeks after the First World War broke out, he and George McGillivray, the Assistant Dairy Instructor at HAC, travelled to Sydney and enlisted in what was to become the 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance (1st LHFA). Helsham was aged 50 and ranked Major, McGillivray at 21 assigned the rank of Lance Corporal. On the 22nd August 1914, 28 year old George Killner, a Steward at HAC and eight students of the College along with local bread carter and ex-student Charlie Cambridge, also travelled to Sydney and enlisted in the 1st LHFA. They were: Corporal Charlie Cambridge, aged 21 whom had studied for 18 months with the College engineer. Driver Clifford Johnston, aged 19 Private John Harrison Kemp, 19 Trumpeter James Mackie, 20 Private Allen Maclean, 21 Driver Reginald Harold Marks, 20 Lance Corporal Reginald McBroom, 20 Driver Thomas Rutherford, 21 and Lance Sergeant Reginald Threlfall, 20 Two days later another nineteen HAC students and staff also enlisted as follows: Driver George Brett, 20, student Private Harry Cullen, 27, motor mechanic and his younger student brother Driver Stanley Cullen, 24 Private Thomas Dyson-Hughes, 19, student Private David Evans, 21, student Private Maurice Evans, 19, student Driver Albert Goodchild, 19, student Private Eric Hadley, 20, student Private Ernest Hird, 26, grocer Driver Sidney James, 19, student Driver Alton Kershaw, 20 (although according to College records he was 16 in July 1912) Private Alfred Knott, 21, chauffeur Private Neville Lipscomb, 19, student Private Frank McGowen, 19, student Private Archibald McLachlan, 19, student Driver William Needs, 22, school teacher Private Edwin Sturgeon, 22, bookeeper Private John Torrens, 21, student and Driver Leo Yeats, 27, student Private William Boden, a 22 year old motor mechanic at HAC joined them on the 25th August 1914 and Private Arthur Rosenthall, farmer aged 32 also joined them on the 15th September. They all embarked from Sydney as part of “A” Section, 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance (AMC) with 29 other men (of which 11 were from the Hawkesbury and neighbouring districts) aboard transport A27, ‘Southern’ on 23rd September 1914 bound for Melbourne from whence they embarked 18th October. Most of these students were amongst those whom had received their Diplomas and Prizes upon completion (or part thereof) of their course(s) at HAC on 22nd April 1914. Amongst the Second Year Agriculture students Albert Goodchild was awarded a prize for “Fourth Aggregate and Best Practical Student”. In the First Year class, George Brett was awarded “Best Dairy” and in the Second Year Dairy Course, George McGillivray was awarded “Dux and Best Aggregate”. It should be noted that student Eric Clayton also joined on 22nd August 1914 but was to be rejected by Helsham as “Unfitted for duties”, later joining the 6th Mobile Veterinary Section 22nd August 1916. Harold Tinson also joined the LHFA but does not appear on the Nominal Roll for A Section as it appears he missed the transport and embarked upon the Euripedes with C Section, 19th August 1914. Harry Wilson joined the LHFA on 20th September 1915 and died of wounds in France, July 1916. William Barnes joined 27th March 1916 and died of smallpox in Abassia, Egypt, 12th April 1919. Listed at the very bottom of the final page of the Nominal Roll (26/39/1) as “Veterinary Officer (for voyage only)” is Major FW Melhuish AAVC. This was Frank Whiddon Melhuish who was the Veterinary Surgeon at the College and appears in a HAC staff photo taken 1908. According the AWM records he had served as Lieutenant Veterinary Surgeon with the NSW Lancers in South Africa 1899-1902. Sadly eight students; Barnes, Johnston, Lipscomb, McGowen (youngest son of the Hon. J.S.T. McGowen MLA and Prize Donor at HAC 1914, and the first Labor Premier of NSW), McLachlan, Rosenthall, Threlfall and Wilson, did not survive the war, being killed in action or dying of illness. These men were just a small part of some 750 HAC men who enlisted in WWI, of which 139 never came home. Their Name Liveth For Evermore. Peter R Lister & Cathie Lester Staff, UWS, Hawkesbury Campus. Last updated October 2014
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