WWI research uncovers servicemen's link to Highlands

Charles Davis reflects on the servicemen and women who were a part of WWI and the Bowral honour roll. Photo: Lauren Strode

Charles Davis reflects on the servicemen and women who were a part of WWI and the Bowral honour roll. Photo: Lauren Strode

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He was born in the Highlands, but Edmund Milne’s name does not appear on any of the WWI honour rolls.

Charles Davis has spent the past few years creating a website where people can discover more about the the servicemen and women from their area.

Through his research he discovered a reference to Edmund Milne which established his ties to the area.

Mr Davis has now completed his Highlands research and has information on more than 1700 names.

“I see myself as a current day method of elevating their names in remembrance,” he said.

“I don’t try to elevate one above the other, they’re all of importance in the aspect of remembrance. Every now and then there was a reference just to a name from the area and there was no other apparent connection with the area in terms of an honour roll but that’s how I’ve been able to come up with 1700 names.”

Edmund Milne is just one of the many men and women who Mr Davis has managed to connect to the Highlands.

Identified as a local via a National Archives Australia search, he was Edmund Osborn Milne, a railway traffic inspector who, within a month of the war’s commencement, took the oath to serve his ‘Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force’.

He signed so at Marrickville NSW, with his father, a Railway District Superintendent from Orange, NSW, next-of kin, upon whose death Edmund’s mother, Emily, of Ryde, was denoted so.

Edmund was 28 years of age, six foot tall, 164 pounds, of fair complexion, blue eyes, light brown hair, bore a small scar in the middle of his upper lip and vaccination as distinctive marks.

He declared prior military service of four years Public School Cadets, 10 years Rifle Club Reserves, and Australian Intelligence Corps, 2nd Military District (October 1910 to September 1914, 1 st Lieutenant).

Assigned to the Railway Supply Detachment, 11th Army Service Corps, it was Lieutenant Milne who left Australia on the aptly-named transport “Berrima”, December 19, 1914.

Gaining promotion twice -Captain in March 1915 and Major a year later - he was also mentioned in despatches twice and awarded the Distinguished Service Order (June 1916) and French Croix de Guerre (January 1919).

Landing at Anzac Cove on June 30 1915, and tasked with ‘building reserve of supplies for [the] August advance’, Edmund a month later ‘took over Australian Depot when Divisional Supply officers moved into the field’.

By October he was ‘O.C. Supplies, Anzac’.

In March 1916, back in Cairo from Gallipoli, he was appointed ‘Senior Supply Officer 4th Australian Divisional Train’ and come July 1917 he was in France, as ‘D.A.Q.M.G [Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General] 4th Divisional Train HQ’.

He was transferred in the same capacity two months later to 1st Anzac Corps.

Ten years after the war ended Lieutenant-Colonel Milne and his wife, Sister Myra Septima Hutchinson Wyse (who’d also served, Second Australian General Hospital and then 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, from where she left war service in 1917) lived in Strathfield NSW.

Of such distinction was Edmund, he is listed in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Edmund also managed Legacy’s war veterans’ home from 1938, was active in the RSL for 44 years, belonged to 12 Masonic lodges, was director of the anti- tuberculosis association, chairman of the Liberal Party Burwood branch, and honorary secretary of the NSW Forestry Advisory Council.

Titled ‘Australia WW1 Honour Rolls’ this website includes not only the Southern Highlands but other localities including Rockdale, Darlington Point and Leura.

The site is free and encourages descendants’ contributions in the aim of elevating remembrance of Australia’s First World War service personnel during this Centenary Commemoration and beyond.

Mr Davis’ website is also hosted by the NSW State Library War Memorials Register under the Family Historians and Researchers tab.

Visit https://sites.google.com/site/australiaww1honourrolls to learn more about Southern Highlands soldiers who served in WWI.

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