Nymagee pays tribute to the men and women who served

Siblings Michael Nicholson and Di Shanahan checking out some of Max ‘Ginty’ Howison’s war plane paintings that were on display at the Anzac Day commemorations at the Nymagee Hall last week.

The Nymagee community commemorated Anzac Day 2018 in a very special way last week at the Nymagee Town Hall.

Organised by the Nymagee Progress Association, ceremony emcee Matthew Nicholson said Anzac Day was not held to glorify.

“Anzac Day is a day to pay homage to our veterans and those who gave their lives,” Matthew said.

He said it was a way to recognise the sacrifice, commitment and unselfish devotion by those men and women who served for their country and what they believed in.

“Many knowingly went to their deaths,” he said.

As part of last week’s ceremony, which is reportedly the first Nymagee Anzac Day ceremony to be held at the hall in over 50 years, the community’s new honour roll was unveiled.

The honour roll lists 51 service men and women from the Nymagee district who served in World War I and World War II.

Local and former Nymagee residents recounted stories about some of those who had served, many of which were their own family members.

Nymagee resident Phil Harley spoke about his four great uncles Richard, Gerald, Daniel and Gus Collins who all served in World War II.

Another local resident Pat Dunne said many of those who went to war came home different people and were “never the same again”.

“It’s good to see so many people here standing up saying we appreciated what they did,” Pat said.

Local Geoff Fennamore, whose family have farmed in the Nymagee area for generations, spoke about how his father Patrick Fennamore had volunteered to join the air force.

In order to join up, his father had lied about his occupation as shearers were exempt or forbidden from military service.

Geoff said while his dad had been lucky that he was stationed in Australia and never
saw any active service as he had been deemed medically unfit for flight duty, he was
originally shunned by the RSL (and others like him) and not given full recognition for his service until many years after the war had finished.

Nymagee Progress Association president Dolly Betts and treasurer Matthew
Nicholson led the Anzac Day
commemorative ceremony at the Nymagee Hall last Wednesday.

Nymagee local Jenny Nicholson recounted the story of World War I nurse, Miss Marie Whitlock.

“Nursing was one way women could contribute to the war effort,” Jenny said.

Marie was born in Nymagee and later became a nurse. She served in World War I where she met and married a soldier. The couple returned to live in Adelaide after the war.

“The war altered the direction of her life,” Jenny said.

Des Hill, who has been a resident of Nymagee for the past 15 years, recounted the story of William Craigie who served in World War II.

Des said he and William were of similar height, 5ft 3/4 inches, which was just above the minimum height regulation when he enlisted.

William was killed in action just three weeks after he arrived in France in July 1916 and for 100 years he lay in an unmarked grave.

It’s only recently that his remains (and those of hundreds of others) were identified and they all have been laid to rest in newly marked graves.

Long time Nymagee local Michael Nicholson recounted the valiant service of Max Smith (and his two sisters Thel and Nancy) during World War II.

Max, a pilot with extraordinary flying ability, few 32 successful missions over Germany.

He was part of the dam busters bombers who delivered purpose-built bouncing bombs that ultimately proved to be a major blow to Germany in WWII.

For his service, Max earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar.

Reginald ‘Boy’ Harland returned to Nymagee for the service last week and was called upon to recount the story of his Uncle Teddy (Edward) Harland, a great sportsman who joined up at age 18 for World War II.

As part of the memorabilia on display at last week’s ceremony, there was a letter that had been written to Teddy’s parents, Mr and Mrs Tom Harland of Nymagee Station, informing of their son lost at sea.

Teddy never made his 21st birthday.

“He was my uncle, but more like a brother to me,” Boy said.

Trevor Nicholson, another visitor to Nymagee for last week’s ceremony, spoke about his father Donald Nicholson, better known as Jack who fought in the Second World War in New Guinea.

Trevor brought with him Jack’s discharge papers to be part of the memorabilia display.

“Dad would never speak about the war, he couldn’t be drawn out to talk about anything to do with the war,” Trevor recalls.

“He spent a long time in Darwin hospital with injuries and the family doesn’t know much about how they were caused.”

Trevor also paid tribute to the women and indigenous people who served for Australia.

Nymagee Progress Association president Dolly Betts said they were very pleased and surprised at the big turn out of approximately 70 locals and visitors for their special Anzac Day ceremony.

She said a lot of hard work and planning had gone into the organising the day and the good turn out had made it all very worthwhile.