The chairman of the Bundamba Anzac Observance Committee led me around the memorial park as if it was one of his children. The park is on the site of the old Purga Shire Hall that had been a polling place at the very birth of Australia. Today the heroes who defended her are honoured through commemoration and a unique history.
Brad showed me a plaque that commemorates the famous ‘March of the Dungarees’. On the morning of the 29th of November 1915, the men paused here during their recruiting march which came at a time when enthusiasm waned amid the tragic news from Gallipoli. This was where twenty-two-year-old George Bould and forty-four-year-old widower Ambrose Langan joined the march. They both knew exactly what they were in for. Ambrose was killed in action in the Battle of Pozières the following year just three days after arriving at the front. He was survived by two daughters in County Kildare in Ireland, the descendants of whom are in contact with Brad’s Bundamba committee today.
Brad pointed to the living Gallipoli Pine which is a direct descendent of the pine cone brought back from the Lone Pine battlefield by one of the participants. In 1923, a machine gun was unveiled at the park. It was a war trophy brought home from the First World War but it was removed by council many years ago when it apparently became dangerous. Its ultimate fate remains unknown.
He showed me the anchor from the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Ipswich – a Fremantle class patrol boat that was launched in 1982 – and a propeller from a Royal Australian Air Force Caribou cargo aircraft of the 23rd Squadron at RAAF Amberley.
Touchingly, there’s also a plaque for each of the eleven locals who died as a result of the two world wars.
Most prominent of all is the Honour Stone that’s crowned with the noble Digger. It was unveiled on the 29th of November 1919 – poignantly the fourth anniversary of the visit of the ‘Dungarees’ – and had been overseeing Anzac and other commemorations for the Bundamba community at Ipswich ever since.
One of the servicemen named on the memorial is that of Norwegian-born Tollef Nils Harrick Amundsen. He enlisted in the Australian Army in 1918 but was discharged just six weeks later for ‘family reasons’. He is reputedly a relative of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who led the first expedition to the South Pole in 1911. British novelist Roald Dahl and Nobel Prize laureate Roald Hoffmann were named after him.
Brad had invited me to search the park to hopefully add to its already rich history. By using the latest Minelab technology to metal detect the grounds, I hoped to unearth lost relics to then connect with the living history. Amazingly we found over fifty artefacts, the oldest of which predated the Honour Stone itself.
An 1890 Queen Victoria English penny and a .22-calibre bullet projectile, rich with the patina typical of the period, popped out of the ground together. Both items were here to witness His Excellency the Governor of Queensland Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams unveil the Honour Stone over a century ago. Goold-Adams had visited Ipswich a number of times and unveiling the memorial was his last official duty in the city before his unexpected death just eight weeks later.
Hosting him that day was the president of the Bundamba Patriotic Committee which soon morphed into the Bundamba Anzac Observance Committee that we have today. The chairman English-born George Rutherford and his family lived just five minutes’ walk away in Byrne Street and attended the Methodist church straight across from the park.
George’s oldest son George Rutherford Junior survived the war having enlisted as a nineteen-year-old. George Junior was wounded in action at Broodseinde in Belgium during the latter stages of the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. This was the same battle in which a cousin of my mum’s was killed, and on the same day on which nine Victoria Crosses were awarded including two to Australians. George Junior was later Mentioned in Dispatches. He came home and became a postman.
George Senior’s daughter Mary later married a lay preacher from the Methodist church across the road, and his younger son William was destined to be the Controller-General of Prisons in Queensland. A government minister once remarked about William Rutherford, “I often visited the gaol … with Mr. Rutherford and I was absolutely amazed at the sincere friendliness displayed towards him by the prisoners, not with the idea of gaining favour and not feigned because of fear, but because they knew what Mr. Rutherford was trying to do for them.”
It was Brad, the current chairman of the Observance Committee, who uncovered a beautiful Salvation Army Bandsman’s cap badge from deep below the surface. It’s the style that was adopted around seventy-five years ago
The first recorded involvement of the Bandamba Salvation Army Band here when they provided the music on Anzac Day 1923 which was also the day that the machine gun war trophy was unveiled, and they’ve played the music ever since. However, it was eighteen-year-old cornet player Tommy Smith in 1933 who started a personal tradition that stretched for two decades. Tom played the Last Post and Reveille every year from 1933 to 1953. He grew up with his family living in Lindsay Street just behind the park and set-up house and ran his shoe business right beside the park for many years. The badge found may well have belonged to Tommy himself.
The park was officially named the ‘Bundamba Anzac Memorial Park’ in 1934 in proceedings again hosted by the inaugural chairman George Rutherford Senior. He resigned from the committee in 1937 thereby ended twenty-years of service.
The committee’s second chairman was the local member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly Dave Gledson. He was a local having attended Bundamba State School, was a regular at the Bundamba Methodist church, and would serve in parliament for thirty-four years with the final eight as the state attorney-general. It was with Gledson’s support that William Rutherford received his prisons appointment.
Gledson resigned as in 1949 after twelve years as chairman. He died a few months later, just ten days after his last Anzac Day.
The third chairman, James Donald, was a strong temperance advocate and also a long-term member of parliament, however he spent just the one year 1949 in the role. He was followed by Robert Hallowell who lived less than ten minutes’ walk from the park, on the corner of Brisbane Road and McCormack Street.
Hallowell’s ascension to committee chairman coincided with a dramatically increased use of the park. The council added a playground in 1950 which resulted in me finding a pocket full of pre-decimal coins from the period including halfpennies, pennies, and a couple of shillings. The 1960s provided more decimal small change. There was even a harmonica reed.
Then we unearthed a unique quirk of history from South Australia – a small silver button beautifully made by 120-year-old button and badge manufacturer A.J. Parkes. Most of Queen Victoria’s sixty-five-year reign, and the first twenty years of Queen Elizabeth’s, were totally ignored by the South Australian government when it erroneously used the King’s crown on its general service buttons from the 1850s through to 1974. The button was used by government departments such as the South Australian Police, Emergency Fire Service, and the Gaols and Prisons Department.
It was common for the Salvation Army to provide chaplains in the uniform of those departments. So given the context of where the button was found, it was quite possibly lost by a Salvation Army visitor who wore their South Australian government uniform to a Bundamba Anzac service. Or perhaps it was a South Australian prisons official here to visit their Queensland counterpart George Rutherford Junior.
Around 3,000 people attended the Anzac Day dawn service and another 1,000 the morning service in 2008. Someone in the crowd that day purchased a $5 Spirit of Anzac badge from the Returned Services League and lost it in the park. I had found it as another reminder of a moment in time.
In 2012 the band of the United Sates Third Fleet performed at Bundamba Anzac Memorial Park in commemoration of Victory in the Pacific Day. They dropped a couple of Lincoln one cent coins which I found to add even more history to the place.
One mystery remains, however, regarding the origin of a handful of 9mm and .303 calibre rifle shells. They were discovered spread over a large section of the park. The headstamps on the cartridges date them to the 1980s and 1990s and manufactured by Australian Defence Industries and Fabrique Nationale Herstal in Belgium. No live commemorative shooting has ever occurred in the park in living memory, so how these cartridges got here remains unsolved.
But as I was researching the location and wondering who had witnessed the events here, I realised the answer was hiding in plain sight. Elizabeth McKenzie was born in Ipswich in 1912 and attended the unveiling of the Bundamba Honour Stone as a young seven-year-old girl in 1919. A century later last year, the same little girl attended the centenary of the unveiling – but this time she was known as Mrs Jordan.
Mrs Jordan has spent her whole life within a stone’s throw of the Budamba park. As I sorted through the coins, badges and buttons that will go into the archives of the Anzac Observance Committee, I understood that when looking to the past, our richest resources are the people around us now. The 108-year-old Mrs Jordan is one such living Bundamba treasure.
NOW CLICK HERE WATCH BRAD’S TOUR OF THE PARK
Amundsen Bundamba headlines (1926) – Truth, 7 Mar 1926, page 11
Governor Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams (1918) – State Library of Queensland
William Rutherford (1952) – Truth, 16 March 1952, page 4
Bundamba artefacts (2020) – my own
Keith Pennell and Elizabeth Jordan (2019) – courtesy of Bundamba ANZAC Observance Committee