Cenotaph Centenary

Signaller George Dunstan c1915

George Dunstan was born at Carlton, NSW in 1893, one of several children of John and Mary Dunstan; his father John Dunstan (1861-1905) was an Alderman on Hurstville Council.  George was working as a clerk, and living at Dora Street, Hurstville when he enlisted at Liverpool, NSW in February 1915, aged 21 and 11 months.

He embarked on the Ceramic, and served as a Signaller with the 19th Battalion at Gallipoli until the evacuation.  He was then assigned to the Trench Mortar Battery, 19th Battalion as a Bombardier in France and Belgium.  He was wounded in action at Bullecourt in May 1917, and his leg wounds were treated at hospital in England.  He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in June 1918.  Following demobilisation, he was attached to the AIF Headquarters, then completed a three-month course in forestry in Wales.

George was given the great honour of laying a wreath at the Cenotaph and in Westminster Abbey on behalf of Australian servicemen at the Armistice Day service in 1920, on the occasion of the interment of the Unknown Soldier.  How full his emotions must have been in the presence of the King and the assembled congregation, who included a hundred holders of the Victoria Cross.  There is surviving British Pathe footage of the 1920 service at the Cenotaph which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug90S6wnWV0

He was still in London four months later, when he married Ellen in London on 5 March 1921.  He left the military with the rank of Warrant Officer 1, and returned to Australia on the Ormonde in May 1921 with his English bride.  After the war he was an Alderman on Bexley Council in the 1930s.  He was a member of Arncliffe RSL Club.  He died at Arncliffe in 1963.[1]

Thanks to Bayside Libraries for providing this detail from a photo in their collection of Bexley Council 1932-34.

[1] Sydney Morning Herald 22 July 1963.

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