As we commemorate Anzac Day – I’m sharing some local stories to recognise and remember those who sacrificed so much, so we can enjoy what we have today.
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George Adam Matchett (known as Adam), was 21-years-old at the outbreak of World War One.
A motor driver by trade, he lived with his family on their property 18 miles from Dubbo, with two younger brothers, James and William, and a baby sister, Phyllis.
Along with many others at the time, Adam and his family were keen tennis players, and members of the Dubbo District Tennis Association.
Adam himself was an excellent player and a champion in the making, but like many young and idealistic men he ‘heard the call of duty and patriotism’ and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on February 15, 1915.
After several months training, Private Matchett shipped out from Sydney bound for Egypt, where he was assigned to the Ammunition Reserve of the 4th Light Horse Brigade.
It was there he met Private Lionel McCrae, and the two quickly became friends.
They stuck together from then on, sailing to France and the Western Front in March 1916.
Following in the footsteps of his older brother, 19-year-old James Matchett enlisted in 1916.
While military records tell us that George Adam Matchett was killed in action in November 1916, on the Somme battlefields, it’s from Lionel McCrae we know that Adam was smiling and talking to his mate, moments before the shell that killed him landed nearby.
Lionel wrote to Adam’s mother Ada, to let her know about his courage and devotion to duty, and said ‘he was buried in a soldier’s grave with many mates to keep him company’.
Hopefully, someone showed Lionel the same kindness when he was killed by a shell burst in September 1917, just two months after he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
Neither Adam or Lionel have a known grave.
Jim Matchett was more fortunate than his brother.
Although wounded once and hospitalised several times from illness, he survived the war, attaining the rank of Sergeant.
He arrived back in Australia in 1919, returning home to the family property, and living the rest of his life in the region.
He’s buried at the Old Dubbo Cemetery.
Commemorating those who served, and remembering those who died.
Lest we forget.