Murgon State High School captains Kirsten "Chook" Upton and Geoffrey Kinsella with Murgon SHS principal Greg Smith ... recounted their memories and impressions of the European trip

July 24, 2014

The trail of little red poppies left by South Burnett residents on graves and memorials around Europe – and the sacrifices they represent – will never be forgotten following the launch of a special book of memories.

The limited-edition photobook, “Poppies For Remembrance”, details stories about South Burnett residents killed during World War I and contains photos taken at their memorials.

It was launched at a “Poppy Presentation Evening” held at Kingaroy Town Hall on Wednesday night before invited guests and relatives of the fallen Anzacs.

In May, a group from the South Burnett including Mayor Wayne Kratzmann, Murgon High School students Kirsten Upton and Geoffrey Kinsella, Murgon principal Greg Smith, MBDA president Leo Geraghty, historian Liz Caffery and RSL representatives Don Davey and Jim Kingston went to Dodewaard in the Netherlands to mark the anniversary of the death of former Murgon resident Patrick Tiernan during World War II.

Patrick was killed when his Halifax bomber exploded over the Dutch town in 1944. The delegation was invited to Dodewaard by local residents who had been faithfully tending the graves of Patrick and his crewmate Alf Burns for 70 years.

It was decided the European visit was also an opportunity to honour the sacrifice of the many South Burnett residents who lost their lives a century ago on the fields of France and Belgium during World War I.

After months of research and submissions from local residents, a list of names was prepared and three major cemeteries and memorials chosen to visit: The Menin Gate, Buttes Cemetery at Polygon Wood, and Tyne Cot.

Liz Caffery said there were 55,000 names on The Menin Gate: 6000 from Australia, including more than 30 from the South Burnett – which means they died in Flanders’ fields, and their bodies were never identified.

The South Burnett delegates placed little red poppies next to the names of South Burnett residents.

On Wednesday night, special “poppy packs” containing photos of the memorials were distributed to descendants of the South Burnett Anzacs.

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FOOTNOTE: What was originally planned to be a night of celebration – sharing photos and memories from the European trip – took on a very sombre tone following the death of Sr Philomene Tiernan in the Malaysian Airlines tragedy.  

The evening began with a minute’s silence and a photo tribute to the Sydney nun. 

Sr Phil, who was born and educated in Murgon, had been one of Patrick Tiernan’s relatives who had joined the delegation to the Dodewaard commemorations in May.  

She then attended a retreat in France before being farewelled by her Dodewaard host family at the airport in Amsterdam last week.

Her plane, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, was shot out of the sky over the Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives – a tragedy again linking Australian and Dutch families.

The Hunter family, of Nanango, received a "poppy pack" about Private Jack Hunter whose remains were identified and reburied 90 years after he was killed near Ypres; from left, Michelle, Mel, Hayley, Buddy, Mitchell and Michael Hunter; Mitchell has prepared a biography about Jack which will be published in a South Burnett World War I tribute book next year
A special guest was Yarraman resident - and former Bomber Command wireless operator - Paul Tunn who took part in the same bombing raid as Patrick Tiernan in 1944; Paul is pictured with his daughter Jennifer Hunt, from Sunshine Beach
Tom and Tricia Perrett received a "poppy pack" about Tricia's uncle Edward Newman
Leo Geraghty, from Murgon, and Kingaroy RSL president Don Davey
Mayor Wayne Kratzmann with his wife Eleanor and local historian Liz Caffery
Kingaroy RSL president Don Davey and Murgon RSL president Jim Kingston hand local resident Jack Saltmer a "poppy pack" with photos taken on the Poppy Trail linked to his grand-uncle George Saltmer

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