Restoring a Town’s Forgotten History of Service and Sacrifice

Guest blogger: Jeff Hewitt, Lowood History Group

A community project underway in Lowood, west of Ipswich, aims to preserve a rare surviving example of military training infrastructure from Queensland’s colonial era, honouring the service and sacrifice of the district’s World War One and Boer War veterans.

The Orderly Room, although hidden in this image is directly opposite the hall behind the Royal Hotel. Photo from Pam Horstman private collection.

The Orderly Room, although hidden in this image is directly opposite the hall behind the Royal Hotel. Photo from Pam Horstman private collection.

Lowood’s historic former ‘Orderly Room’ was built in 1895 for the volunteer part-time ‘citizen soldiers’ who, six years earlier, had first formed as a detachment of the Ipswich-based Moreton Regiment, Queensland Defence Force.
It’s arguable that the renowned ‘Anzac Spirit’ of 1915 had its Queensland genesis a generation or more before Gallipoli, with the development of the colony’s volunteer forces.

The former Orderly Room and building on private land, Lowood, Queensland

The former Orderly Room and building on private land, Lowood, Queensland

During the Boer War several men enlisted who had trained as part-timers from Lowood, including local farmer and volunteer officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John Flewell-Smith who led the 5th Queensland Contingent in South Africa in 1901.

This photograph appeared in The Queenslander Pictorial Supplement, 29 January 1916.

This photograph appeared in The Queenslander Pictorial Supplement, 29 January 1916.

J Flewell-Smith was also Transport Officer on the WWI troop ship ‘Booara’ in 1916. He moved to a farm in Brackenridge in 1914 after 41 years in Lowood. His diaries are available at the John Oxley Library. Photo John Oxley Library, SLQ

J Flewell-Smith was also Transport Officer on the WWI troop ship ‘Booara’ in 1916. He moved to a farm in Brackenridge in 1914 after 41 years in Lowood. His diaries are available at the John Oxley Library. Photo John Oxley Library, SLQ

J Flewell-Smith's son Bernard, born in Lowood, enlisted with the 15th Battalion and was awarded a Military Medal in 1918.

As many as 106 local World War One volunteers have been traced to date. 70 were born in Lowood or neighbouring communities and 36 were born elsewhere but were living and working locally when they enlisted.
One such volunteer was Harold Vincent Brightwell, a 25 year old Fernvale-born carpenter, the ninth of 12 children of George and Eugenie Brightwell. He enlisted with the 9th Battalion in 1916, was wounded twice in 1917 and killed in action in France in 1918.

Harold Vincent Brightwell enlisted with the 9th Battalion in 1916. Image from National Archives of Australia

Harold Vincent Brightwell enlisted with the 9th Battalion in 1916. Image from National Archives of Australia

His few personal effects - photos, fountain pen, and rosary beads were sent home to his grieving parents on the ‘Barunga’. The ship was torpedoed and although everyone on board survived, the precious mementos of a fallen son were lost forever.
This community project will restore the 120-year-old former ‘Orderly Room’ for the research, preservation and presentation of a rich but forgotten history of military service that began in 1889.
Service records of every local volunteer from World War One will be displayed along with the district’s first complete Roll of Honour, commemorating enlistees from World War One and the Boer War.

Related resources: 3135 Flewell-Smith family papers 1885 - 1925 ; J. Flewell-Smith Record - Discovering Anzacs, National Archives of Australia

Anyone interested in learning more may contact the group by email - biz@teamcreative.com.au

Read more about Lowood and district.

Jeff Hewitt, Lowood History Group PO Box 126  Lowood QLD 4311

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