Hero photograph
 

Reflections - Lest we forget

Jacqui Anderson —

ANZAC is a time that we remember those who fought and died for their country. In our Reflections piece this month, we have taken excerpts from Bedean magazines in the 1940s, which give small biographies of some of our Old Boys who lost their lives while serving for their country.

World War l


Although a very young school when WWI broke out, St Bede’s lost 5 of its Old Boys during the war. Among those old boys who lost their lives in this war were twins Laurence and Leo Donoghue, who had been foundation pupils of St Bede’s. Laurence was a member of the No. 4 Field Ambulance, whose stretcher bearers had to be fit, strong and fearless to rescue men under heavy military fire. It was while serving at Passchendaele, he became a victim of mustard gas, which he died from in late October 1917. Leo was a member of the Canterbury 3rd Battalion. He survived the battle at Passchendaele, only to fall victim at the military assault of Polderhoek Chateau in December 1917. Within three months, the Donoghue family lost three of their four sons.

Image by: The Faith of our Fathers


World War 2

By the time World War 2 started, the College was older and so had more of its Old Boys join up. On 27 July 1941, there was a group of 81 Old Boys from The Marist Colleges, St Patricks, Silverstream and St Bede’s who managed to have a reunion in Cairo while serving in Egypt. The day started with a Mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral, reported at the time to be the finest Cathedral in Egypt, followed by drinks, lunch and then a football game or two. It was said to be “a great show and a great crowd and a good time was had by all.”

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1941

Of those who lost their lives in this war, below are some excerpts of their service:

Lieutenant Bernard Bradley - killed in action in Italy 26/05/1944

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1944

Sub-Lieutenant Richard John Chettle, joined the Fleet Air Arm, killed in active service 20/06/1943

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1943

Lieutenant Guy Gifford – Went overseas with the Fifth Reinforcements and fought in both Egypt and Syria against Rommel. Two nights before his death, he led a patrol behind enemy lines, captured soldiers, and brought back both prisoners and information. On the night that he was killed, he was discussing with the Captain the situation, when he was mortally wounded by artillery fire 22/07/1942.

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1941


Sergeant-Pilot Harold Goggin – left New Zealand in January 1942 and went to England where he trained and joined the New Zealand Spitfire Squadron. He escorted a large troop-carrying transport plane in the Middle East and while the troop plane arrived safely, his plane failed to make it back to base and was never found. His Squadron Leader, LH Bartlett said of him “He was one of the best pilots I had and during the time that he served with the Squadron, proved himself to be reliable and fearless.”

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1943

Trooper Francis Howard – Served overseas from 1942 and was in many battles in Italy. In the battle for Florence, he was part of a crew called to help to support the Infantry who were holding the San Michele against counter attacks. He was killed instantly by shrapnel 30/07/1944. Father Spring, another Bedean old boy performed his burial.

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1944

Private Thomas Hulena – trained with the NZEF, served in the Pacific and was killed in action in the Solomon Islands 29/09/1943

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1943

Flight Sergeant – Pilot Noel Meyer arrived in England in 1942 and was one of the first six pilots chosen to fly a Lancaster bomber and was the first pilot to take a Lancaster off on an operational raid. He participated in 39 raids and on his last flight was Captain of a Lancaster bomber flying over Frankfurt on the night of the 24/25/08/1942. He was said to be “a pilot of outstanding ability”

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1943

Lance Sergeant Joseph O’Shaughnessy – Sailed for the Middle East in 1941 and was part of the battalion which helped stop Rommel in his drive for Alexandria. Joe also fought in El Alamein, Libya and Tunisia. He was then sent to Italy and it was while on the sacred ground that leads to the Monastery of Monte Cassino, that he was killed by a mortar bomb on 03/04/1944.

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1944

Trooper Patrick Ryan – Left New Zealand a week after his 21st birthday and on arrival in Italy, was posted to a unit engaged in hostilities. He also lost his life at the assault on Cassino 17/05/1944.

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1944

Private Tom Poff – Serving with the Australian forces was killed in the battle at Buna in New Guinea 01/01/1943

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1943

Lance-Sergeant Brian Wallen – left New Zealand with the 8th Reinforcements in December 1942. He was in action in Tunisia and then went on to Italy. He too lost his life at the attack on the Cassino railway 17/03/1943. A friend of Brian’s, was wounded and Brian rushed to help him, but was killed by a Sniper’s bullet. Another soldier also wounded in the same attack, wrote to Brian’s father with the words “This was the way I would expect your son to die – doing something for someone else”

Image by: Bedean Magazine 1944

While we are unable to give an excerpt of all Bedean old boys who lost their lives in the 2 World Wars, we acknowledge them all for their bravery.