Sutherland Shire Soldiers

As we observe the ANZAC centenary it is fitting to look back at the contribution residents of Sutherland Shire made to the Great War.  When war was declared the Shire was still an infant community having only been officially formed in 1906.  Although it is not possible to tell all their stories here those that follow are indicative of the sacrifices and bravery of all.

John Buisson, aged 21, an accountant from Sutherland enlisted in April 1915.  He had some previous military experience serving as a lieutenant in the Senior cadets.  This may well have inspired him to enlist.  Sailing on the "Berrima"  he joined the 20th Battalion and was sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula just before the troops were evacuated.  He then left for France where his battalion suffered heavy casualties  While fighting near Bullecourt John was wounded and later died of his injuries on 12 May 1917.


Group portrait of soldiers from the 20th Battalion

George Milner, aged 22, a clerk from Sutherland enlisted a month after John Buisson and left Australia on the "Runic" in August 1915.  He trained as a signaller whose duties included the efficient running of communication links on the battlefield.  This job was quite dangerous.  Milner was with the  4th Battalion and while at Broodseinde Ridge east of Ypres between the 3rd and 6th October 1917 was awarded the British Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty laying telegraph lines under intense enemy shellfire.  His coolness in action was largely responsible for the establishment of communications within the battalion.  He returned home on the 20 April 1919.

War was life changing for all soldiers but no more so than for Thomas Cadet, aged 21.  A painter by trade from Sutherland he enlisted in July 1915.  He was with the 1st Battalion 11th Reinforcement and served in France where he was wounded twice.  While in France he met and married  Margreitt Mallart of Rouen.  They both returned home in December 1919.  They only stayed in Australia for another 4 years retuning to Europe in 1923.

Throughout the war conditions on the battlefield led to much illness and disease.  Cecil McPherson, aged 20, of Sutherland had also served in the Senior cadets prior to enlisting in December 1917.  He arrived in England in June 1918.  He fell ill on the voyage and was admitted to hospital at the army training camp in Salisbury.  Sadly his health deteriorated and without seeing active service died of pneumonia in October.  He was buried with full military honours with 6 men from his battalion serving as pallbearers.

Charles Toms, another Sutherland local was at the same camp and may well have attended even though he was also struck down with influenza. 

The local community welcomed home those soldiers who were invalided or returned at the end of the war and in honour of all soldiers' service memorials were erected throughout the Shire.

Official opening of Sutherland War Memorial 28 May 1921