WWI LEGACY: The names of Granite Belt towns are a permanent reminder of our WWI history.
WWI LEGACY: The names of Granite Belt towns are a permanent reminder of our WWI history.

Initials kickstart six-year mission to remember war heroes

A desire to remember those Granite Belt residents who made the ultimate sacrifice has led one Stanthorpe-born man on a six-year search for the stories behind the initials of our local war heroes.

Stanthorpe Remembers is a history project, documenting the stories of the 39 men who lost their lives during WWI.

Peter McLady started his search with a Stanthorpe Border Post column but since then, the history project has gone digital with the introduction of McLady’s website.

Mr McLady said from a young age he had been curious about the Granite Belt’s tie to the war.

“Growing up you’re always aware the towns around Stanthorpe are named after the battlefields of WWI but I never really knew much about it,” he said.

“At the memorials, you see the initial and surnames but don’t really know the story behind the individual that represents.”

At times, combing through national archives had not always been an easy job for Mr McLady.

“In some cases it was really straightforward, you’d go onto the service records’ national archives and pretty much know who that person is, they had a distinctive surname and connection to Stanthorpe,” he said.

“Others like J Fitzgerald were incredibly difficult.

“There were 53 Fitzgeralds who died in WWI in Australia and I was trying to find the J Fitzgerald who had a link to Stanthorpe. I flipped through service record after service record and ended up finding a piece that he worked at Pikedale Station and then found the link there.

“It’s something you can get quite consumed by it, but when you put it together rather accurately, there’s a sense of achievement you’ve created some lasting record.”

In creating the digital platform, Mr McLady hoped history could remain for future generations.

“In communities like Stanthorpe, it’s quite an important thing,” he said.

“100 years ago, losing 39 men from the district would have been devastating.

“I’m trying to build something lasting, something there for the next generation and build those links between the community of Stanthorpe and France and Belgium.

“Those communities who share our names too.”