Do you know anything about the war years in Towamba?
MAX. Yes. There used to be a V.D.C., a Volunteer Defence Corps used to be here.
Stationed here?
MAX. Yes. They were the farming community around here. There was........ they used to call him Captain.......Pax Sawtell (spelling) and what was the other one's name....he used to come down from the Monaro and train us. I can't remember his name but the two of them used to come down and train us here and I was the baby. I was the youngest in the V.D.C.. I was only twelve or thirteen and our job was to....they always reckoned the Japanese would land at Twofold Bay and we was to move all the stock up to the Monaro, burn everything behind us, then as luck had it, it didn't happen. But then 1945 the war ended, in '46 they had a welcome home for the returned soldiers. They had a sports day over here in Boller's paddock, which was Darcy Parker's paddock and the first wood chop that I ever chopped in was at that particular time. Then they had a big dinner in the hall that night for a welcome home party for the soldiers. That was 1946. I had two uncles on the Sawers side, no three uncles in the war, yes. One uncle, he died a prisoner of war on the Burma railway and the other two didn't get out of Australia. Then Laurie Beasley had a bad knee and they kept him around the mess house nearly all the time. He hated that. Gordon Beasley who ended up here where Terry Knight lives, that was Jack's brother, he went to New Guinea and then there was Alf Tasker and Rufie Lucas, he was Alf's brother-in-law. He lived out at the back of 'Elmgrove' at 'Daisy Hill', then there were three Clements'....... Gordon, Verner, and Ronnie, then there was Les Mitchell, he died a prisoner of war. Mary Mitchell, (Lower Towamba) well her husband's brother died a prisoner of war. Pud, as we used to call him, Gordon was his right name but he always had Pud, he died a prisoner of war on the Burma railway.
Why did they go?
MAX. Well, the thing about it was for a lot of them, work was a big problem for them at that particular stage. That's right, Athol Greer, he was another feller that went. Well, when he joined up and Gordon Beasley, they were ring barking timber at Craig & Mostyn's lease down there.
Where's that?
MAX. Out the back of 'Log Farm'. It's State forest now but Craig & Mostyn was the wattle bark company and they had this lease taken up from the Forestry. They were ring barking all the green timber to let the wattle grow. Athol used to suffer from dog wood itch, so he said, 'That's it, I'm going to join the Army!' Him and Gordon Beasley and Normie Carragher all left the job out there and joined up.
*** Excerpt from Max Sawers' interview in 'The Forgotten Corner Interviews'.

The first and second world wars had a noticeable effect on the Towamba district in that the young men who went away to fight were the labour force of the valley. They were the farm labourers, the milkers, the future survival of the valley way of life.
The wars gave these isolated young people a glimpse of the outside world and for those who returned, life was never the same. Many left again to make a life for themselves outside the valley.
Arthur Beasley, put his age up to go to the first world war and down when he enlisted for the second; fighting in the desert and in Europe. He returned from the second war and lived the rest of his life in Towamba.
The loss of the young population - those who died overseas and those who returned and later left the district - changed the way of life in the valley that had remained virtually unchanged since pioneering days.


It is stated that Messrs. E. Robertson (of Honeysuckle) and J. Grant (of Wattle Hill) are enlisting in the next Bushmen's Contingent for South Africa.

May 25, 1900

The little village of Wyndham for the past few week has been very quiet but on Monday the 21 st inst., quite a change took place. The "Union Jack" was hoisted all over the village, and crowds were to be seen coming into the town. A four mile march was made by the whole of the miners from Jingera, with their "general" in the lead, carrying a flag with the words "Hurrah for Mafeking". The local band was also in evidence, and played "Sons of the Sea" from the balcony of the old Royal Hotel.... The school children then marched, headed by the band, singing the National Anthem.... the children being afterwards treated to a shower of lollies. An address was given on the South African War and the success of the British troops, concluding with three hearty cheers for gallant Colonel Baden-Powell....

August 24, 1900
Ball at Burragate

* The recent ball at Lyndhurst, Burragate, in aid of the Indian Famine Fund, passed off most successfully.....

June 26, 1915
'The Bega Budget'
Five volunteers have been passed at Towamba by the medical examiner, and two (Messrs. V. Smith and H. Beasley) recently left for Sydney. On the eve of their departure they were entertained at a social and each presented with a wristlet watch.

Keith Parker. 12th Light Horse. 1915
Photo courtesy L. Parker
World War 1 recruiting drive. Outside the Towamba Wine Saloon.
Note Towamba's first bridge in background.

March 18, 1916
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'

* Mr. W. Beazley, of Towamba, has six sons on active service, and one brother. A patriotic family.

'The Southern Record and Advertiser'
26 August 1916
Snips and Scraps.

* The report that Private Tom Robinson was missing was only a rumour.
Private Ted. Cochrane, a partner in the proprietorship of the Bega 'Standard,' has been wounded at the front.
Private E. J. Beasley, of Towamba, is officially reported missing.

May 5, 1917
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'

* Pte. T. Laing, of Towamba, was killed in action on April 9. Pte. Osborne Rixon, of Rocky Hall, has also been killed in action.

'The Bombala Times'
4 October 1918
War Loan Tank.
The War Loan Tank, under the command of ' Admiral ' Hawksley, reached Bombala last Saturday afternoon according to programme. This particular Tank is one of a fleet that is at present combing the Commonwealth for subscriptions to the Seventh War Loan, and from the route it is called ' The Southern Cross.' It left Sydney some days before and travelled from Goulburn through the Queanbeyan and Cooma districts, making appeals at the various towns on the way. The staff consisted of Mr. Hawksley (of the 'Evening News,') Sgt. Paddy Geoghan, and Sgt. Wayland (Commonwealth Bank). The Hon. Austin Chapman joined the Tank at Cooma. Ald. Smith, in the absence of the Mayor, cheered the Tank on its arrival at the Council Chambers, and the Band played a patriotic selection and the National Anthem. Ald. Smith, on behalf of the people of Bombala, extended a hearty welcome to the Tank and its staff, and trusted their mission to Bombala would be a success. He hoped that those people who had money at their disposal would respond to the appeal. The war could not go on without money, and the way our boys had been fighting lately should encourage the people to lend their money to the Government. When people got on the 'tank' we were generally glad to get rid of them, but they were all pleased to see their old friend Austin Chapman on this Tank. The Hon. Austin Chapman said it was a novelty for him to be on the 'tank.' It was also unusual for him, to be speaking except on politics. Some of his constituents might say, "Why are you not in your place in Parliament? In reply he could say that he had received a command from Admiral Hawksley to come round on the Tank, and he thought his best course was to obey that command. He had been round before urging them to send men, now he was going to ask those who couldn't fight to pay up. This show was in charge of Mr. Hawksley, a well-known pressman, who had done his bit in many ways, and was doing this as a labor of love. Although most people had done their bit he asked them to try and do a little bit extra. He was glad to hear that some of the rich men in the district were putting in their thousands, but he was better pleased to know that some of the poor men were coming forward with their tenners. A sum of 20,000 had been subscribed at Cooma and 2,000 at Nimmitabel. This Tank was symbolic of the great war. The war had put everyone on the one footing, and in the trenches the squatter's son, the miner's son, and the laborer's son were cobbers. They were all out on the one mission - to win the war. It was our mission to help with the money. Thank God, the war news was better, but it was not over yet. He would ask Mr. Hawksley to address them. Ald. Smith stated that the quota for the Municipality was 7,500, and the amount already subscribed here was 14,735. Mr. Hawksley said the Chairman had asked him to hit out, but how could he hit out when Bombala had already doubled its quota. 7,500 was an absurdly low quota for Bombala, and 14,000 had been put up in no time. The Tank was worth another 14,000 surely. And so the appeal went on. Mr. Hawksley told them what the Government wanted for this Seventh War Loan - forty millions sterling - and they were going to get it. The people were asked to sacrifice their money at 5 per cent. He appealed to their sentiments, he appealed to their patriotism, and he appealed for money as a good business investment. When he had finished Sgt. Geoghan was turned on, and he soon had the audience in a pleasant humor with his fund of witty anecdotes. While this was going on Sgt. Wayland was not idle. The applications started with one from Mr. R. Stevenson for 5000, the largest amount received by this Tank in one sum. This was followed by some smaller amounts, not the least of which were from men who had sons fighting at the front. A sort of mist came over the eyes as one father stepped forward for a 10 bond, and it was announced that he had lost one son at the front and one was still fighting. He was finding the men and the money too ! The total received by the Tank was 9,530, and this was the biggest total it had received on the tour.
The amount was made up as follows : - (in £s)
R. Stevenson ... 5,000
J. C.Maslin ... .1,000
E. A. Angove ... 1,000
M. A. Baird ... 1,000
W. Beileiter ... 500
L. Goldberg ... 200
F. H. Dawson ... 100
N.F.Smith... 100
W. E. Roberts ... 100
Alex. Oliver ... 100
W. Watson ... 100
Jas. Scott ... 100
S. Rolfe ... 50
Mr. Goldberg's Children 50
Don. Langley ... 20
G.R.Phillips ... 20
Miss G. Beileiter... 20
F. Rapmund ... 20
W. Brotherton ... 10
J. Turnbull ... 10
F. J. Smith ... 10
Hy. Beveridge ... 10
Jas. Paxton ... 10
Messrs. McKay Brothers also promised to take up 2,000 but this will go in from the Delegate district. The local Bank managers assisted the Tank staff in obtaining subscriptions, filling in forms, &c

May 2, 1917
'Southern Star'

* The southern end of the district paid a heavy war toll last week. First there was news of Private Cornell, of Pambula, being killed. Then came word in rapid succession of the deaths of Private Laing, of Towamba and Private Gordon Ryan, of Burragate.

June 20, 1917
'Southern Star'

* Word has been received that Private W. J. Macleod, of Mila, who enlisted from Towamba, has been wounded in France after serving 11 months in the trenches.

The Sydney Morning Herald
16 May 1918

* A subscriber who signs himself "Wanderer" issues a challenge to any town to show a better record than Towamba, on the South Coast, in regard to the enlistment of eligible men. He says: "Early in 1915 the police took the names of all elligibles in the police patrol district, and since then every eligible man has offered himself for active service. Only one man, who was rejected on three or more occasions, was unable to go into camp. However, this man has a number of brothers at the front."

'Twofold Bay Magnet' - Saturday 7 September, 1918
The War Tank "Southern Cross"
Will be at Eden on Tuesday October 1st.
The Hon. Austin Chapman is expected to arrive at Eden with (not on) the "War Tank" on Tuesday morning.

'Pambula Voice' - Friday 20 September, 1918
The War Loan Tank will arrive at Pambula on Wednesday October 2, and as this is a sample of the great "vehicles of destruction" used by the allies in France, it will be a sight worth seeing by young and old. A large attendance is requested at the public meeting tomorrow (Saturday) in the School of Arts to make arrangements to receive the Tank contingent.

'Cobargo Chronicle' - Saturday 21 September, 1918
The War Loan Tank "Southern Cross" which is to tour the southern district to assist in the Loan campaign, is due to arrive in Cobargo on Friday, October 4, and will remain overnight. The Central Committee desire that each centre endeavor to reach its quota during the Tank's visit. Capable speakers will accompany the Tank and at least one of the visitors will be an Australian soldier who has seen active service. It is hoped to secure the assistance of the most prominent local speakers to assist in the appeal, as they are in the best position to know where to look for money.

'Pambula Voice' - Friday 11 October, 1918
The Hon. Austin CHAPMAN arrived with the War Tank on Wednesday, October 2, and although the weather was very unfavourable he met with a good response, 590 being given in, 200 of which was sent along by Mr. John J. Smith, formerly living at Wolumla, and now of Ashfield. As between 700 and 800 had previously been promised to the War Loan through the Shire Council, Mr. Chapman was satisfied that our centre had contributed its quota.

'Pambula Voice' - Friday 11 October, 1918
Cobargo subscribed about 2,000 at the Tank appeal last week.

'Twofold Bay Magnet' - 20 December 1919
The School of Arts, Burragate, was the scene of a memorable service on Sunday last, when a marble Honor Roll containing the names of fallen and returned soldiers was unveiled. The hall was decorated with Union Jacks and Allied Flags and a large congregation from all around attended, especially from Wyndham and Towamba. Among them was a proud father of five soldier sons. Reserved seats were provided for Lance Corporals [Harry] Beasley and G Dickie, Privates J Mitchell, Arthur, Cliff and Peter Sawers and J Martin, also the parents and grand-parents of the fallen heroes... At the conclusion of an excellent address, and the singing of the National Anthem, the Rev. Gentleman unveiled the Honor Roll, which was draped with the Union Jack-sent by a fallen soldier, Pte E W Beasley to his only child, before sailing to the Western Front.... (see Burragate Memorial for full report)... Private Arthur Sawers Returned Wounded Private Peter Sawers Returned Wounded.

Opening of the Towamba War Memorial, 21 November 1925
on its original site opposite St.Pauls Church of England.
Magnet July 25, 1936

Mr. L. Watson has returned from Sydney
where he went for treatment for his war
wounds which were causing trouble.
Laurie was not able to work, but
got very little satisfaction
from Military Hospital authorities.
Laurie Watson (sitting) and
Peter Sawers. WW1
'Dodge' Unknown
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Peter Sawers (Henry Peter Sawers)
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum

Peter and Arthur Sawers
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Peter Sawers
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Dick Farrell. Died Sandakan, Borneo, aged 44.
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Ernest Targett -
George Collection
Ron Whitby.
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Ron Whitby c 1915
Photo courtesy Dale Hummer (nee Whitby)
The Three Sawers Brothers signed up together
Cliff Sawers
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Cliff Sawers (second from left) in hospital. Egypt.
Arthur Peter Sawers Robert Sawers

Private Robert Sawers
Born: 1887 Lived: At Burragate NSW
Service Number: 3031 First World War
Enlistment Date: 3rd February 1916
Unit: 31st Battalion 5th Regiment
Embarkation Details: Unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria
on board HMAT A68 Anchises on 14th March 1916.
Robert served at France and Belgium and was killed during the
defence of Amiens.
Died: 2nd July 1918 - Killed in Action
Place of Burial: Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension.

Parents: James and Mary Whitby
Children: James T. Sawers
John Sawers
Mary A. Sawers
Sarah Sawers
Caroline Sawers
George Edward Sawers
Agnes Sawers
Henry Charles Sawers
*Robert Sawers
Alice E. Sawers
Lillian Olive Sawers
*Arthur Peter Sawers
*Clifford Stanley G. Sawers
Jeanette E.R. Sawers

*Robert brother Arthur Peter Sawers. Service Number 3033 -
Unit 31st Battalion in France and Belgium
and was wounded in action on two separate occasions. He survived
and returned to Australia in 1919.
Arthur Peter and Clifford George Sawers are Twins

** Robert brother - John Sawers m. Charlotte Beasley in 1891 in Bombala NSW.
Daughter Mary Elisabeth Sawers m. William Weatherhead Love
in 1915 in Eden NSW.
(She is Ray Edwin Love's grandmother)

Studio Portrait of 3031 Private (Pte) Robert Sawers, 31st
Battalion from Burra Gate, NSW.
A 28 year old labourer prior to enlisting on 3 February 1916,
he embarked for overseas with the
5th Reinforcements from Melbourne on 14th March 1916 aboard
HMAT Anchises. He served with the
31st Battalion in France and Belgium and was killed during the defence
of Amiens, France on 22 July 1918.
Pte. Sawers is buried in the Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
Robert's younger brother,
3033 Pte Arthur Peter Sawers enlisted with the 31st Battalion on the same
day and fought with Robert. Arthur returned to Australia in April 1919.

Post card message on the back of the above portrait of Private Robert Sawers
Private Albert Leslie Mitchell, 2/20th
Australian Infantry.
Private (Pte) Albert Leslie Mitchell, of Towamba, NSW,
enlisted on 12 June 1941, and died of illness
whilst a Prisoner of War in Borneo on 22 June 1945, aged 43.
NSW. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of NX32273 Private Albert Leslie Mitchell, 2/20th Battalion,
Australian Infantry. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp
in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of E Force. The 500 Australian and
500 British POW's who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving
at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour on 15 April 1943. The POW's were held there until 5 June,
when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was
about half a mile from the B Force compound. Private Mitchell, aged 43, died as a prisoner of the Japanese
on 22 June, 1945. He was the son of John Thomas Mitchell and Fanny Mitchell, of Lower Towamba, NSW.
He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 14.
Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.
Group of WW1 soldiers before leaving for overseas. This image was given to a Towamba resident by Arthur Beasley
so it is possible that he and other Towamba soldiers are included.
Courtesy J. Love
Charles Robinson. 1916
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Verner Clements WW11

Malcolm John McLeod

Malcolm John McLeod was 22 when he enlisted in September 1915.
Unit: 2nd Battalion - 14 Reinforcements - Regimental Number: 4542
He was engaged to my grand nan whom he married when he
returned home in 1917. She was 17 when he left.
My great grandfather arrived in Marseilles where he
spent the first few months of his service in hospital at Etaples
with the mumps and was later dispatched for duty with the 3rd
Canadian Tunnelling Company.
In October 1916 he rejoined his Unit in Bullecourt,
France and in May 1917
was wounded in action - A gunshot wound to the head.
We understand that a bullet passed through
his head and a fellow soldier
held his finger over the wound which kept
him alive until help arrived.
His friendship with this soldier continued when
the war came to an end
and they used to meet up regularly in Sydney.
He was discharged and returned to Australia in
October 1917 but never
recovered from the severe injury he received, the
plate in his head caused
him a great deal of pain and he started
having seizures
which eventually lead to his death at aged 42.
(Information supplied by Yvette Berry)

Alfred Tasker
B. 12 Feb 1920, D. 9 May 1971 Merimbula, buried in Pambula Cemetery
Son of Alfred & Lizzie (nee Love) Tasker
Married Aileen Jones 21 October 1943 at Towamba
Service Number - N267651 1939 - 1948
Place of enlistment - EDEN NSW
Lionel Love is Alfred Tasker's Uncle.
Lionel Love and Lizzie Tasker are brother and sister

Lionel Leslie Love
B 1917 Eden, NSW
D 20 June 1954 Towamba, NSW buried Towamba Cemetery
Son of Thomas and Lucy Love
Married Moya Marie Bray 1942
Service Number - NX96929 1939 - 1948
Place of enlistment - PADDINGTON NSW
(Information supplied by Susan Love)

George Thornborough Dickie
Service Number: 5994
Rank: Private
Roll title: 2 Infantry Battalion - 13 to 23 Reinforcements (December 1915 - November 1916)
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
Date of embarkation: 22 August 1916
Place of embarkation: Sydney
Ship embarked on: HMAT Wiltshire A18
(Information supplied by Susan Love)

Telegrams informing the Dickie family of George Dickie being wounded.
ANZAC Hospital Harefield, UK George Dickie on left, outside Ward 20, Harefield, UK
Charlie Roberts. Courtesy R. Dickie Letter home from Charlie Roberts
Postcard sent to Charlie Roberts from Connie Dickie
Post card sent to Connie Dickie Back of Post card
Postcard to Connie Dickie from Edward Beasley from Cairo.
Post card sent to Connie Dickie Back of post card
Comparing the writing, they are from the same person "Eddie" which I assumed was Edward John Beasley as he was in Egypt and was killed there.
Anyway this last one I found mentions that Ted Beasley is missing. So was there another "Eddie" from Towamba that fought in Egypt?
Just shows never make assumptions with history just because it all looks right. Rhonda Dickie

Unknown. Courtesy R. Dickie
Edward Marshall Beasley
photo courtesy Glynis Anderson

Raising money for the Red Cross:
Aileen Tasker, Gloria Clements, Jennifer Dickie,
Phyl Clements, Rufus Lucas, ?, Ruby Roberts.
Front : Doris Page, Lizzie Tasker, Rita Dickie, Jean Logan

Towamba Hall set up to welcome the boys home
(A compilation of some of the above photographs,
some soldiers unknown)

Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Girl and soldier on Pericoe Road.
Towamba Store in background (right).

Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum
No date
Jean McPaul Collection, Eden Killer Whale Museum.

August 4, 1917
'The Queenslander'
The Roll of Honour.

Edward John Beasley, Towamba, N.S.W.

October 30, 1917

The Sydney Morning Herald


The notice below was given to Mr Pat Farrell (WW11)


Help Yourself in an Emergency
If you are ordered to evacuate proceed to Burragate School of Arts.
You may carry with you:
(a) The clothes in which you stand, a change, your overcoat, and one blanket for yourself.
(b) A suitcase not over 20 inches for extras including children's clothing, toilet requirements etc., for each family.
(c) 6lbs food for each person.
The persons in your household will travel as follows:
Mrs. Pat farrell with Mr. Umback's car. Mr. P. Farrell - await possible second trip.
You will be promptly notified of any alteration in arrangements.

October 8, 1942
The Sydney Morning Herald

PARKER, Gnr. T. A., Art.,Towamba.