What can I say about a man, born in 1891 in the small town of Bundaberg Queensland, who started school in the tiny community of Mt Perry, who went through childhood in Bundaberg and through his teenage years in Toowoomba. What can I say about a man who joined the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade at a young age, who joined the 14th Australian Light Horse (QMI) probably in his late teens or early 20’s, and after moving to Brisbane was again associated with the QATB as an ambulance bearer. What can I say about a man who failed to hesitate to enlist when WW1 was declared, who enlisted so quickly that he received the military service number of 19, a number that was 4 less than his own age of 23.
What can I say about a man who was assigned to the Australian Army Medical Corps attached to the 2nd Light Horse Australian Imperial Force, and sent overseas almost immediately. What can I say about a man who left his fiancée at home, telling her he’d be home before Christmas and that all the fuss would be over and done with before they even got there. What can I say about a man who saw action at Quinn’s Post, who was wounded in the line of duty at Gallipoli, not once but twice, and carried with him the shrapnel for the rest of his life, a man who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for “Conspicuous gallantry on several occasions notably when he dressed wounded men during heavy bombardment“, a medal regarded as second only to the Victoria Cross in prestige. What can I say about a man who continued to do his duty, his calling, and was awarded the Mention in Dispatches, not once, but twice, and a man who was regarded with some affection if the diary of the battalion priest was interpreted correctly.
What can I say about a man, who on returning home married his sweetheart, the girl he had left behind some 5 years before, the girl who had waited for his return. What can I say about a man who very quickly became the Officer in Charge of Sandgate Ambulance Station, who raised funds for new equipment and vehicles, who delivered babies in the back of the ambulance while transporting the mother’s to hospital, and who remained on duty 24 hours a day 7 days a week for many years. What can I say about a man who even when playing lawn bowls at the club next door, would leave the green mid-set to go and attend to those in medical need. who held the position of Club President and Treasurer at different stages, and who was awarded Life membership and honoured with a Perpetual Shield Trophy. What can I say about a man who retired from the QATB after 50 years of service.
What can I say about a man who was a devoted husband and father, and who would not apply for transfers or promotions if they would have meant interrupting his children’s schooling. What can I say about a man who was a grandfather and great grandfather, who just loved to jog upon his knee a new great grandchild.
What can I say about a man who died aged 85 in 1976 in Brisbane, and whose wishes were that his ashes were scattered with no permanent marker to be placed.
All I can say, is that he is my great grandfather, and I am proud of him.
James Marshall MacDonald 1891-1976