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24 April, 2022

Our Fighting Sons

THIS Anzac Day spare a thought for the memory of one of the many Mareeba Anzacs who paid the supreme sacrifice.


BY MICHAEL MUSUMECI


Their names are etched in the Mareeba Cenotaph that continues to be an iconic part of Mareeba History, positioned in the centre of our township along Byrnes Street. 

The Mareeba Soldiers Memorial Monument, commonly known today as our ‘cenotaph’ was erected in 1923 by the community of Mareeba, and has continued to honour the names of the Mareeba Sons who lost their lives during World War One, World War Two and the Vietnam War. Next year in 2023, the Mareeba Cenotaph has been on display to our community for 100 years. An iconic piece of Mareeba History. 

One of the many names etched into the cenotaph, include Private Albert Edward Abbott who paid the supreme sacrifice. Albert was born on 5 June 1894, did his schooling in Mareeba and lived on the corner of Constance and Hort streets. Prior to enlisting he worked for the railway as a locomotive fireman. 

He served two years in the Citizen Forces, and enlisted in Cairns in February of 1916, at the age of 21. He posted to the Australian Infantry 26th Battalion 14th Reinforcements, Australian Imperial Force. 

In August of that year, he embarked from Brisbane and disembarked in Plymouth in late October 1916. After suffering a bout of serious sickness for a lengthy period he proceeded to France and was transferred to a segregation camp, joining his unit later in February of 1917. 

Albert served with the 26th Battalion in Flanders to participate in the Battle of Ypres and then in October of 1917, the 2nd Australian Division passed through Zonnebeke, preparing for the Battle of Broodseinde. Albert was tragically killed in action on the 4th October 1917, in Zonnebeke, Belgium whilst attached to the 26th Battalion. 

Initially he buried just west of Daisey Wood. It is believed he was killed in the final stages of the attack on the Broodseinde ridge. His remains were exhumed after the war and interred in Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood, Belgium. He was 23 years of age. 

These sad and tragic stories have all but been collated and compiled into my new book titled “The Mareeba Anzacs” – a book that remembers the lives of ordinary Mareeba lads who got drawn into the conflict of war, and many who paid the supreme sacrifice. 

It’s been an honour to not only research, but collate our local Mareeba History in a way that these brave souls are no longer just names etched into the cenotaph. 

The stories are readily available through this book, and for future generations to ensure their memories live on. 

Lest We Forget.

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