Warracknabeal is a town of around 2,500 people in Victoria’s Wimmera district, 330 km northwest of Melbourne. It’s population today is the same as it was in 1918, and a quick search of names who enlisted in the 1st A.I.F. from Warracknabeal shows around 10% – 230.
This single postcard from Cairo, Egypt was sent by George Murray of the 14th Battalion just prior to the first contingent of Australians leaving Egypt for the Gallipoli Campaign. On the second day of the Landing at Anzac, 27th April, he was shot in the leg and sent to England to recover, after which he rejoined the 14th in early 1916 as they re-grouped in Egypt after the Evacuation.
George was in the middle of two brothers – the oldest, Leslie, was farming in Beechworth and enlisted in November 1914 to join the 4th Light Horse Regiment. The younger brother, William, enlisted at the age of 19 in January 1916 and served with the 58th Battalion.
I forgot to ask you to see Mr Hudson about my lodge. If it has to fall through or not. If not will you keep it paid with the money I have allotted.
I remain your ever true
George served throughout his battalion’s tour of duty in France, but was killed in action on 30th March 1918. Les served the full duration of the war with the 4th Light Horse and returned home in 1919. After some training in Egypt, and some hospital time in France with the mumps, Will joined his battalion but was reported missing in action just five months later in March 1917.
For the Murray family of ‘Murray Hill’ Warracknabeal the price was too high.
In the early years after the war, as the family worked through their intense loss, they petitioned to have the gravestone of George also engraved with the name of younger brother Will, who’s body was never recovered. Although it broke all the rules, the red tape gave way and granted permission on compassionate grounds for the headstone to be so engraved.
Click on these links to go to the Australian War Memorial where you can find more about George & Will, and read over fifty of their letters home and photographs.
The story of Les in the 4th Light Horse Regiment will follow…