Kirsten Upton, Jim Kingston, Geoffrey Kinsella
Off to the Netherlands: Murgon State High School's 2014 school captains Kirsten Upton and Geoffrey Kinsella with Jim Kingston from Murgon RSL, who'll be accompanying them (Photo: Murgon Moments)

October 28, 2013

Murgon State High School’s 2014 school captains Kirsten Upton and Geoffrey Kinsella will be travelling to the Netherlands in April next year to take part in an historic plaque dedication service for Murgon war hero Patrick Tiernan.

The pair will join an official 10-person delegation including South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann and his wife Eleanor, several RSL club members, Murgon Business and Development Association president Leo Geraghty and his wife Glenda, and South Burnett historian Liz Caffery.

They will be travelling as guests of the Municipality of Neder-Betuwe to dedicate a plaque for Murgon airman Patrick Tiernan and his colleague Alfred Burns (from Lidcombe, NSW), who died in 1944 when their Halifax 715 was shot down over Betuwe in Holland.

Both men are now buried in the Dodewaard village cemetery.

The announcement was made at Murgon High School’s annual speech night last Thursday by Leo Geraghty after the 2014 school captains were announced.

The full text of his speech is as follows:

My name – for those who do not know me – is Leo Geraghty, President of the Murgon Business and Development Assocaition. We have worked very closely with your local Councils and now the South Burnett Regional Council over many years.

For many months now we have been meeting and discussing the Patrick Tiernan Project.

On behalf of the Mayor of the South Burnett Regional Council, Wayne Kratzman, who couldn’t be here tonight, I would like to share this amazing story with you.

The municipality of Neder-Betuwe is situated in the area of the same name and it has 22,463 inhabitants. The municipality consists of six villages. Dodewaard, Echteld, Ijzendoorn, Kesteren, Ochten and Opheusden. The River Rhine makes up the northern border and the southern border is the river Waal. Dodewaard is one hour from Amsterdam which is famous for its beautiful gardens, lovely towns, and fabulous buildings.

In July 2012, South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Wayne Kratzman received a letter from the Mayor of the Council of Neder-Betuwe in Holland advising the Council of a plan to install a plaque at the graves of Australian crewman Patrick Tiernan (from Murgon) and Alfred Burns (from Lidcombe, New South Wales) who have been buried in the cemetery in the village of Dodewaard since 1944. These men died when their Halifax 715 was shot down over Betuwe in Holland.

On the 4th May each year (the day of remembrance there), the town council, the children of two elementary schools, veterans of Dodewaard and the local Memorial Committee World War II, visit the graves to lay flowers and hold two minutes silence to pay their respects in order to honour and thank these soldiers for all they have done, far from home, for the liberation of their country.

The Mayor advised our Council in the letter that in order to keep the memory of these two crew members alive, they would like to erect a plaque with a story of their last flight with pictures next to their grave so that people who visit can become acquainted with their story.

On behalf of the Murgon community – and to respectfully thank the Dodewaard community for tending Patrick’s grave – the South Burnett Regional Council is sending a small delegation including our Mayor and his wife and some of our Returned Services RSL Club members, and Glenda and myself to represent the community of Murgon to Neder-Betuwe to attend the ceremony on the 4th May, 2014.

The Council in conjunction with Liz Caffery, who is also coming, is planning to produce a commemorative book of stories, photographs and dialogue of Patrick Tiernan, and the history of Murgon and the delegation trip.

Patrick Tiernan, known as Flight Sergeant Patrick Edward Thomas Tiernan, was the son of James and Mary Tiernan of Murgon. He crashed and died on June 17, 1944, aged 29 years.

The people of Dodewaard have now found parts of the plane and Jillian Tiernan, the former licensee of the Tiernan’s Australian Hotel, has visited the area and is – with one of her sons – accompanying a small group of 10 people from the South Burnett to join in their celebrations in May next year, the 70th anniversary of their flight.

This 2014 celebration will cement an lasting relationship between Dodewaard and Murgon and we have a page out of their local magazine, like the Murgon Moments, showing what the people of Dodewaard thought of Jillian Tiernan’s visit earlier this year.

The people of Dodewaard and their ancestors are so grateful for the help and sacrifice that these soldiers and airmen gave to their country and villages and can’t wait to see us.

By this time you probably are wondering where I’m going with this

Well…

It is with great pleasure that on behalf of the Patrick Tiernan Committee that we would like to, with your parents consent, extend an invitation to Kirsten Upton and Geoffrey Kinsella (Murgon State High School Captains for 2014) to join with us on this most memorable occasion and travel to Dodewaard, Holland in May 2014 to represent your school and be a part of their annual celebration.

Kirsten and Geoffrey: we are to fly out of Australia on Monday, April 28, at 9:00 pm, three days after our own 2014 Anzac Day celebrations, and return back to Amsterdam on Tuesday, May 6, for our flight home.

Geoffrey, this will be a birthday to remember as we fly out to Holland that night, it nearly sounds like you will party all day and all night long.

* * *

2013 Murgon SHS Speech Night Award Winners

  • Junior Dux – Rebecca Rynne
  • Senior Dux – Allison Cooper and Tina-Maree Euler
  • Sportswoman – Izzy Williams
  • Sportsman – Jared Sippel
  • Caltex Best All Rounder – Amy Atkinson
  • Rotary Best All Rounder – Rebecca Rynne
  • ADF Long Tan Y10 – Rebecca Rynne
  • ADF Long Tan Y12 – Marcena Ardrey
  • 2014 School Captains – Kirsten Upton and Geoffrey Kinsella
  • 2014 vice-Captains – Tilly Beckett and Barwoo Fisher

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