Albert Street Uniting Honour Roll
The 24th of April 2021 is the centenary of the unveiling of this Honour Roll in the Albert Street Uniting Church in Brisbane. The background to this memorial is related below and a brief biography is presented of some of the people whose names are listed.
We are posting this material to memorialise the people listed on the Roll, not to glorify war. A quote from Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven, then Governor of South Australia made at the unveiling of the South Australian National War Memorial, 25 April 1931, is apposite. Sir Alexander was later Governor-General of Australia 1936-1944.
‘It is not for ourselves that we have erected this visible remembrance of great deeds, but rather that those who come after us and have not experienced the horrors of war, or realised the wanton destruction or utter futility of it all, may be inspired to devise some better means to settle international disputes other than by international slaughter.’
Emotions running among the Australian population by the end of World War I included grief and a deep sense of loss about the dead and maimed both physically and mentally. There was also relief that such a long, grinding war was over and there would be the return of dearly loved ones.
There remained horror about what modern warfare meant – in France and Belgium the combination of massed artillery and machine guns, poison gas, barbed wire, tanks and planes; and in the Sinai Desert and Palestine harsh climate, dehydration, isolation and great distances. There was much pride in the resilience, bravery and character of the Australian troops and the nurses.
The Superintendent Minister at Albert Street, the Rev Dr G.E. Rowe, had served as Queensland’s Senior Methodist Chaplain and spent a period in the Middle East in 1915. He had personally delivered much tragic news and consolation to families, and had heard many gruelling accounts from servicemen and women.
As well as the community at large, he well understood the need to honour and remember after the war, those who had served.
Special services were held in all of the Churches soon after the Armistice on 11 November 1918. The Albert Street (then Methodist) Church held such a service on 16 November 1918, followed on 2 March 1919 by a memorial service for all Queensland Methodist service members who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the War. The printed order of service included nearly 700 names and a copy was sent to all of the families of those named.
Two years later, on Sunday 24 April 1921, a marble Honour Roll was unveiled at the entrance of the Albert Street Church. On that day it listed 224 names, with four others subsequently added.
Sixty-five in total had died during the war. This is a relatively high proportion; perhaps explained by the substantial percentage who had served in the infantry. Another notable feature is the number who served in medical roles – in field ambulance units, in hospitals, and on hospital ships.
Many of the 229 were Australian born, single and aged 18-30 – as was the case with enlistments throughout Australia. With many coming from Brisbane, they were primarily tradesmen, clerks, salesmen, labourers and professionals (including four nurses). However, their individual stories are very varied as demonstrated in the following brief accounts.