TOMORROW Scott Stanford will do what he has been doing for many years - march in the Anzac Day parade with the medals of his grand uncle Edgar “Roy” Stanford pinned to his chest and dressed in a replica 1st Light Horse Regiment AIF uniform.
“It has always been very important to me to keep alive the memory of his sacrifice of his life for his country and I always march on Anzac Day in his honour wherever I am,” said Mr Stanford.
The release of a new book In the Footsteps of the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment by Anne Flood has evoked even stronger memories for the descendents of the young men from the district who made up a large part of the regiment that sailed from Sydney on October 19, 1914, disembarking in Egypt on December 8.
In Egypt the troops undertook additional training, leaving behind their horses and taking just a handful with them as they went ashore at Gallipoli.
Two months after arriving at Gallipoli Roy Stanford was shot in the hip by a sniper with a “dum dum” bullet which shattered his femur and although he was evacuated to Alexandria in Egypt he did not survive his wounds and died on August 1, 1915.
“Apparently he died from an infection which set in and he was buried the same day he died.”
However a poignant part of the story is that he left behind his sweetheart who he had presented with an engagement ring before leaving Orange.
“She never married and died a spinster in her 80s.”
He says to this day the only record they can find of his great- uncle’s fiancee was she bore the surname of Whitehead.
“I would dearly love to hear from anyone in her family as we haven’t been able to find out her first name,” Mr Stanford said.
Edgar “Roy” Stanford was a crack shot and an excellent horseman and after four years in a cadet corps in Orange and five years in the Orange Rifle Club he enlisted on August 22, 1914.
“He worked in my great- grandfather’s grocery and ironmonger store which was across the road from the Railway station in Peisley Street before he volunteered,” Mr Stanford said.
Scott says another sad circumstance surrounding the death of his great uncle from his wounds at Gallipoli was the anguish of his family as they tried to keep in touch with Roy.
“My great-grandfather wrote ‘father, mother and boys send fond love, keep a stout heart’ but unfortunately not one of the letters or telegrams from home reached him,” Mr Stanford said.
The death of Roy had a devastating effect on his parents.
“It was something they never got over and two of his brothers had signed up the day the telegram arrived announcing Roy was dead, leaving only my grandfather, the youngest boy at home.”
Mr Stanford said was inspired by his grand uncle, signing up for the Australian army at age 17 and serving for four years.
“I have never believed there is anything glorious about war and consider it the ultimate tragedy and the most terrible waste.
“However I feel very strongly that the bravery and sacrifice made by the young men and women like my great uncle Roy and the freedom we enjoy today because of them should never be forgotten,” he said.
Mr Stanford said says another tragedy of World War I was the thousands of horses left behind in the middle east.
“Some of the men actually had to shoot their own horses, the ones who had carried them through the terrible conflict.”
“One of the soldiers I am told cried inconsolably for days after he had to shoot his own horse.”