Kogarah helped forge Anzac legend

Former students of Kogarah High were involved in many of the well-known battles that helped to forge the Anzac character, said a teacher at the school, Glenn Hokin, as it marked 100 years since the end of World War I.

The school had former students and teachers at almost every significant theatre of World War I, including as members of the 1st battalion (the first to land at Gallipoli).

“Soldiers such as Robert Willison, Niall Mullarkey , Harry Mitchell and Irvine Johnston experienced the horrors and bravery of that first day,” Mr Hokin said.

“Their mates and brothers were being killed. They faced the constant fear of death but they kept going. There was no giving up. In fact, former students of Kogarah High were involved in many of the well-known battles of Gallipoli, battles that helped to create the Anzac character.”

Kogarah High students and staff marked Remembrance Day with a ceremony where a commemorative wall was unveiled, featuring 83 plaques recording the names of former students and teachers who served during the Great War.

The wall project was funded by the Armistice Centenary Grants Project, where grants were made available to each federal Member of Parliament to support commemorative projects in their electorate to mark the end of the war.

Students also read letters that local soldiers had sent home to loved ones. Arthur Noel Heuston, of Montgomery Street, Kogarah, wrote: “You dare not thrust your finger over the parapet of the trench as you will have it blown off, so accurate are the Turkish snipers.

“Machine guns are everywhere, and are trained on to the parapet of the trench, so if you dare show your nose you may find yourself riddled with bullets.”

Mr Hokin said the bravery and fortitude shown by the men and women who served held a valuable lesson for students.

“I ask that you take the time to look at names of these former students and consider the sacrifice that they and their families made and indeed the families of all servicemen and women,” he said.

“I encourage you to remember that when things get difficult you need to not give up.”

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Ernest Tidmarsh, of Railway Parade, Kogarah, was awarded the distinguished conduct medal at the battle of Second Bullecourt for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He went over open ground with his party under heavy fire and personally captured four prisoners. Mr Tidmarsh was to later die on November 10 1918 from pneumonia. (Top Left)

Malcolm St John Lamb was a former teacher at Kogarah High and enlisted early in the war. His leadership was quickly recognised and he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel on 10 February 1916 and became the commanding officer of the 34th Battalion. (Top Right)

Robert Willison served at Gallipoli as part of the 1st Battalion. He was wounded some time between 25 and 29 of April. He was found dead on 24 May and buried. (Bottom Left)

— Scott Coomber