Carol Harkins from Yamanto is pleased her father John Harvey, who served in Gallipoli, now has his military recognition on his grave.
Carol Harkins from Yamanto is pleased her father John Harvey, who served in Gallipoli, now has his military recognition on his grave. Rob Williams

WW1 Digger's sacrifice recognised with new headstone

WHEN World War I veteran John Harvey passed away, he was buried in the Ipswich General Cemetery without any recognition of his military service on his headstone.

This had always angered his only daughter Carol Harkins, and her six brothers, who felt their father's service in Gallipoli should always be remembered.

"When Dad died in 1981, I asked the RSL then if they would do something to recognise his military service, but they wouldn't do it because they said he wasn't a member," she said.

"I was angry. They deserve to have that recognition on their graves."

Mrs Harkins said her father saw and experienced horrendous things during his time fighting overseas.

"My father, originally from South Australia, enlisted in 1914," she said.

"He said he was over 21, but I really think he was 17 at the time.

"He fought in Gallipoli. He never spoke about the war, not until the last few years of his life.

"When we did ask him what war was like, he said 'he was in a fox hole with three other fellas with their heads down trying not to get shot'.

"He was medically discharged at either the end of 1915 or beginning of 1916.

"He said he was gassed with mustard gas. One of his mates died because of this.

"He remembers being in Malta for treatment before coming back home."

 

Carol Harkins from Yamanto is pleased her father John Harvey, who served in Gallipoli, now has his military recognition on his grave. With Ipswich RSL Sub Branch president Rob Wadley.
Carol Harkins from Yamanto is pleased her father John Harvey, who served in Gallipoli, now has his military recognition on his grave. With Ipswich RSL Sub Branch president Rob Wadley. Rob Williams

A few years after the war, Mr Harvey rode his horse from Adelaide to Ipswich in 1923 where he worked on a farm station.

"He rode his horse because his suitcase went missing when he shipped it here and his medals were lost. He had to have them all replaced," Mrs Harkins said.

He met his wife Christina on the station and married on November 11, 1933.

Ipswich became their home, and despite moving away a few times, they always returned.

Her father loved working on the land and even worked with camels.

Now, three decades since his passing, the memory of Trooper John Harvey and his brave service during the Great War will live on forever after the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch helped to make Mrs Harkins' dreams come true.

While buying Anzac Day badges from a stall in Winston Glades, Mrs Harkins was talking to Debbie Wadwell, who is the current secretary of the Ipswich RSL Sub-Branch.

Mrs Wadwell brought the issue to the attention of the sub-branch and they all voted to make amends for this Digger of the Great War.

They were able to get a new headstone to accompany the existing headstone.

The new plaque has the Australian Army logo on it and has the words Trooper John (Jaco) Harvey, 9th and 11th Light Horse Regiment.

Mrs Wadwell said she was glad to fix the situation.

"We are here to honour our soldiers anyway we can," she said. I am very honoured to be part of this," she said.

"I am thrilled we could do this in time for Remembrance Day.

"To do something like this, we have to have permission from the family. I thank Mrs Harkins for talking to us on that day about her father."