Plaque honours Gallipoli Digger
A PLAQUE honouring Australia's first soldier ashore at Gallipoli, a Lismore man, was unveiled yesterday in a special service at Lismore Uniting Church.
Joseph Henry Stratford, who was born at Coffee Camp in 1883 and brought up in Lismore, attended Goonellabah Public School and worship with his family at the Lismore Methodist Church and later at the Uniting Church.
On the morning of April 25, 1915, eye-witness accounts described Lance Sergeant Stratford plunging into waist-deep water from his landing boat, abandoning his pack to charge up the beach with rifle and bayonet.
Less than an hour later he was dead, although he was described as missing in action for 18 months, as his body was never recovered.
Colin Stratford, Joseph's great-nephew, was at the church to see the plaque dedicated, and couldn't be happier to see it.
"I'm very proud," Mr Stratford said.
"I'd like to thank both the Uniting Church for giving us the opportunity to thank Joseph Stratford, and a special thanks to Barry Davidson for his untiring efforts to see that our great uncle has finally received some recognition."
Lismore man Barry Davidson had been helping Mr Stratford in gunning for the recognition plaque for a man he simply believes deserved the honour.
Mr Davidson, who knows the story well, said he knew of eyewitness accounts that hold Joseph responsible for taking out a machine gun post at the top of a 100m hill that the Anzacs had to ascend.
It was in this move, of Joseph tearing up the hill away from the pack, toward the machine gun post, that he not only managed to take it out, but was also fatally wounded in the process.
Mr Davidson said Joseph was last seen heading back towards the beach, wounded, from his efforts there on that first day at Gallipoli.
It would then be 18 months before he was declared dead, leaving his mother, still in Lismore, coming to the Uniting Church to find comfort after her loss.
"Joseph Stratford's mother would have sat in any of these pews here, and wondered where her son was," Mr Davidson said.