LOCAL HERO: George Drury joined Australian Imperial Force as a was deployed to the Western Front.
LOCAL HERO: George Drury joined Australian Imperial Force as a was deployed to the Western Front.

Hero George fought for us

ETCHED into Hervey Bay's Freedom Park cenotaph are the names of many men who did not come home from World War I.

One of those names is George Dury, the grandfather of Point Vernon resident Bev Cornwell, for whom Remembrance Day carries a lasting memory.

"If only the men who gave their lives in the Great War could have known that they would not be forgotten and, 100 years on, they are remembered every year,” Ms Cornwell said.

George was was born on April 25, 1887 and came out from England to settle in Marrickville, NSW, at age 26 before enlisting three years later in February of 1916.

George joined the Australian Imperial Force as a Gunner in the 1st Siege Battery Unit with his service number reading 27937.

George then started his fateful voyage sailing back to England aboard The Pakeha.

On reaching England, his first posting was in the 36th Heavy Artillery Battery and George was sent to the war front in France where he was involved in heavy fighting in the Poitiers area.

"We, today, cannot imagine what daily life and challengers would have been like for our soldiers on those battle fields and in the trenches in France and he would often tell my grandmother what a terrible war it was,” Ms Cornwell said.

"He survived the war and was awarded the British War Medal, Victory and the Star Medals before returning to Australia on The Pakeha in August 1919 and settled in Hervey Bay with his wife Winnie.”

The couple took up the lease of the Seaview Boarding House in Pialba which had a small shop attached.

George had a fruit and vegetable run to outlying areas delivering by horse and cart.

"I never knew my grandfather as he died of a major heart attack in 1932 at the age of 45 and my Dad, Bill, was only eight when his father died,” Ms Cornwell said.

"When my grandmother went to Brisbane to try and access a war widow's pension, she told them that her husband had died from a weakened heart due to lifting the heavy artillery shells.

Their reply was, "Don't you know Madam that there were horses to lift those shells, not the men.” She never received a pension and worked hard and raised her two children all by herself.”

With the threat of a Japanese invasion during World War II, Winnie sold the boarding house for 300 pounds.

Ms Cornwell's father, Bill Drury, wanted to make sure his father would always be remembered by having a tribute in the form of a commemorative plaque permanently positioned in the Memorial Path at the cenotaph in Freedom Park.

"This was special to his family because his birthday was on Anzac Day,” Ms Cornwell said.



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