The NSW Fire Brigades Roll of Honour
The NSW Fire Brigades Roll of Honour is displayed in an engine bay of the 1887 section at Fire and Rescue NSW, City of Sydney Fire Station. This is where the ANZAC Day Ceremony is held each year. It is dedicated to the Fire Brigades Staff who served during World War I.
Unveiling the Roll of Honour
The Honourable C. W. Oakes, Colonial Secretary, Minister for Public Health, and Acting Premier inaugurated the Roll of Honour on 2 May 1923 in front of a sizable crowd that included relatives of some of the troops who had died in World War I. Ernest Farrar, the Minister of Labour and Industry, who was President of the Board of Fire Commissioners during World War I, stated that the Roll of Honour preserved the rights and seniority of the enlisted men, and war service had counted as fire service.
The Minutes from the Boards meeting on 2 May 1923 describes the Roll of Honour as follows: “The Honour Board is massive and is constructed to the design of the department. It consists of six inset copper panels, framed in Queensland Maple. Upon the panels in raised letters are the names of 315 members of the NSW Fire Brigade Service. The panels are constructed by the electrolyte process at the Government Printing Office and it is believed to be the first occasion in which the process has been employed for work of this nature. The woodwork was executed by Messrs Dorhauer & Sons. The Rising Sun was donated by Messrs T. Green & Coy., the cost of the Honour Roll was £194 ($17,649 today).
People on the Roll of Honour
There are 315 names on the Roll of Honour and their titles are as follows:
1 Member of the Board - enlisted
1 Brigade Medical Officer - enlisted
64 Permanent Firemen - enlisted
237 Volunteer Firemen - enlisted
6 Clerical Staff - enlisted
6 Workshop Staff - enlisted
26 Firemen listed as killed in action
Due to unknown circumstances, the following members served but did not have their names listed on the Roll of Honour:
3793 Pte Charles. Victor Leo
Moana VFB, 24th Infantry Battalion
3619 Pte Cook. Charles William
Taree VFB, 13th Infantry Battalion
1454 Pte Coulton. Robert Austin
East Greta VFB, “C” Company, 34th Infantry Battalion
1602 Tpr Gee. Charles William
Campeblltown VFB, 6th Squadron, 2nd Remount Unit
165 Tpr Hamilton. William Samuel
Katoomba VFB, 12th Reinforcement, 7th Light Horse
1441 Pte MacNeill. James
Permanent Fireman, 13th Infantry Battalion, 55th Infantry Battalion
2680 L/Cpl Wade. Frederick John
West Maitland VFB, 39th Infantry Battalion
474 Dvr Whitnall. William Henry
Permanent Fireman, 2nd Machine Gun Battalion
4686 CSM Redding. Bert Garnet DCM
West Maitland VFB, 54th Infantry Battalion, Killed in Action
12070 CPL Sturch. Frederick
Permanent Fireman, Royal Navy, NSW Naval Contingent – China, Australia Naval & Military Expeditionary Force, 9th Field Ambulance, 35th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force
William Manning Cochran
Permanent Fireman, Home Military Service
Ten men were decorated for service and bravery during World War I, their medals are as follows and these acronyms can be found on the board next to the names of the recipients:
1 Companion of the Order of Michael and Saint George (CMG)
1 Distinguished Service Order with Military Cross (DSO and MC)
3 Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
5 Military Medal (MM)
Rupert Markham Sadler
Sadler was just 20 years of age when he joined the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force in the Capture of Rabaul in August 1914. He later joined the Australian Infantry Force, 18th Battalion in May 1915 and joined the Military Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli in August 2015. He then joined forces in Egypt in January 1916 before continuing to France and Belgium in March 1916.
Sadler was awarded the Military Cross (MC) in 1916 for his excellent work in the trenches near Pozieres and his gallant leadership during an attack on the German trenches on the night of the 4th/5th of August 1916. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in 1919 for his general good work and devotion to duty.
William Stuart Kilpatrick
Kilpatrick joined the NSW Fire Brigade in 1911 when he was just 17 years old. He joined the “A” Company of the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force in the Capture of Rabaul in August 1914. He later joined the Australian Infantry Force in March 1915, serving in the 6th Australian Light Horse Regiment and fought at Gallipoli. He then fought in Palestine in 1918.
He was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for carrying the wounded out of action while under heavy machine gun fire on March 27th, 1918. Kilpatrick was also awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his efforts during World War I.
Percy Clarence Tuck
Tuck joined the NSW Fire Brigade when he was 21 years old where he served at No. 1 Station Headquarters and No. 11 Station Paddington. He resigned in November 1914 after enlisting to serve in the Australian Imperial Force. After training in Egypt, he joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force for the Gallipoli campaign in April 1915.
Tuck, alongside the 4th Battalion, landed in Gallipoli at approximately 8:00 am on the 25th of April 1915 as part of the second and third waves. For most of the day, they defended the beachhead but at 5:00 pm they marched south to counter attacks from the Turkish Infantry. This consolidation of the beachhead continued, and Tuck succumbed to his wounds on the 1st of May 1915. He is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial in Gallipoli and on the NSW Fire Brigades Roll of Honour in Sydney.
Herbert Norman May
May joined the military at 18 years of age and was promoted to Corporal in September 1913. He then joined the Casino Volunteer Fire Brigade in July 1914. However, in September 1914 he enlisted in the 15th Battalion in the Australian Imperial Force and was “Struck Off” from the brigade. He was then promoted to Lance Corporal in October 1914.
May arrived ashore at Gallipoli at about 4:00 pm on the 25th of April 1915. On the 9th of May at 10:30 pm, the 15th Battalion attacked the enemy’s trenches and withdrew at 6:00 am on the 10th of May. At 7:00 am, The Turks attacked but were countered by the 15th Battalion once again. They suffered with 160 killed and wounded, including May. He is commemorated on the NSW Fire Brigades Volunteer Register and the NSW Fire Brigades Roll of Honour.
-Blog researched and content compiled by SO Ian Grimwood, written by the Museum of Fire Heritage Team