This Saturday will mark one hundred years since Australians and New Zealanders went ashore at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. It was not the first time Australians had been in combat during the Great War, and certainly would not be the last.
This short piece is not about the sixty thousand Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War; nor about the heroic deeds of any of Australia’s 100 Victoria Cross recipients; nor about any relatives who served.
It is instead about one forgotten young man who died for his country a lot closer to home.
On 25 April 1918 – three years after the ANZACs went ashore at Gallipoli and during the final year of World War 1 – Harold Alexander Garden was born at Kilcoy, Queensland, to parents William and Jane.
According to the Queensland Government’s Births, Deaths and Marriages database, Harold married Florence Charlotte Litschner in 1939.
Harold enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force on 17 August 1942 where he was assigned Service Number 78012. He eventually ended up serving as a Flight Mechanic with No 8 Service Flying Training School (SFTS), based at Bundaberg.
One morning, at approximately 8:15, Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Garden was outside an Avro Anson training aircraft, starting its engine, while a Corporal Kenway was at the controls. After starting the motor on the port side, LAC Garden went to the front of the aircraft, apparently to check some work. In doing so, he came into contact with the propeller and was killed instantly.
It was 25 April 1944 – ANZAC Day – and LAC Garden’s 26th Birthday.
LAC Garden is one of thirty-one RAAF service personnel currently buried at the Bundaberg War Cemetery – over half of whom died while serving with 8 SFTS.
Over 2,600 members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) who were killed during or as a result of the Second World War are now buried in cemeteries around Australia, or are commemorated on memorials in Sydney and the Northern Territory as having ‘no known grave’.
Over the next few days, the actions of those who served and died at Gallipoli, in Europe, North Africa, New Guinea and during many other overseas wars and battles will be at the forefront of commemorative events and documentary telecasts. Perhaps during this time of national remembrance, also spare a moment to think of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on the home front.
Thanks to David Barlow and Tiffany McNab for their assistance with this piece.