Writing short story fiction was the start of a project which has lasted eight years for Margaret Tucker.
Mrs Tucker has marked 61 graves of ex-servicemen who have been buried in Griffith but over time had been left unmarked.
There’s 1022 ex-servicemen buried in the city’s cemetery.
One of Mrs Tucker’s stories featured a Royal Navy sailor named James Burns.
The veteran died, aged 79, in a house fire behind the RSL Hall in Griffith in May 1959.
Burns had lived in Griffith for five years and lived in Newcastle before that. He was well known for relating tales of his days as a merchant seaman during World War I.
Encouraged by then high school principal Kevin Farrell, Mrs Tucker decided to identify the graves of ex-servicemen so students could understand some of the history of their town.
Among the graves which were unmarked was James Burns. With the co-operation of family members and the Griffith RSL sub-branch those graves are now marked with a plaque.
Some of the graves were unmarked because they lived in poverty, or there were no known relatives. One such man was Charles Beilby, a soldier-settler who arrived in Griffith in 1919.
During World War I, he served on the western front with the fifth field artillery brigade.
He helped many other soldier-settlers working with committees to reduce their debts for their properties to fair values and was employed by the Water Conservation Commission.
Beilby died in October 1951 but had no children and was buried with a wooden cross marking his grave.
As a result of Mrs Tucker’s research and grave-marking project, an extra six names of World War II soldiers have been added to the Griffith Cenotaph.
The six men were Griffith residents before enlisting and died during the course of the war.
- DOYLE, Edward Arthur
- DOYLE, Lenard Harold
- GRAF, Philip Frederick
- JONES, Arthur
- MASON, Clive
- YOUNG, Douglas Alexander
SEARCH STILL ON FOR J GRAHAM
A new plaque bearing the name of Griffith residents who died in service during World War I and World War II will be dedicated during the Centenary of Remembrance Day on November 11.
Joining the plaque are 18 World War I soldiers and six from World War II for a total of 122.
Research by Margaret Tucker into the World War II soldiers has led to the creation of a database of who they were.
Previously they were only known as their first initial and surname, during Anzac Day, RSL members would read out names but often they were nicknames or incomplete.
Mrs Tucker said the database included service numbers and history. However, one soldier is still only known by his first initial – J Graham.
“He’s not in any record and the records of other Grahams don’t match,” Mrs Tucker said.
Mrs Tucker is hoping someone in the community may know as the RSL records, Australian War Memorial and National Archives has few clues.
A Remembrance Day lunch will be served at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club with tickets available at the club until November 10.