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Richard McDONALD #5182

By Marg Powel & Des Crump | 18 December 2017

Richard McDonald, 1st Infantry Battalion

Richard McDonald, Kiama Independent, 20 April 2015

Indigenous Australian, Richard McDONALD, 1st Infantry Battalion

Richard (Dick) McDonald was born at Burdekin River, northern Queensland in April 1883. A former police tracker, McDonald was working at the Bombo Quarry near Kiama in NSW when he enlisted 3 December 1915.

A keen sportsman, he had played rugby and cricket, was a member of the Kiama Reserve Rifle Club, as well as a member of the 37th Infantry Band. McDonald took part in the South Coast Waratahs recruiting march which was held in November 1915 and was suitably farewelled at the Kiama Town Hall, with almost 50 other recruits.

He embarked for Egypt in April 1916 and by June was in the field with the Anzac Entrenching Battalion (tunnelling unit). He then joined the 1st Infantry Battalion in France in July where they were heavily involved in the battle of Pozieres. Just two weeks later McDonald was seriously wounded in the abdomen 24 July 1916 at Pozieres. He was treated by 1/2 South Midlands Field Ambulance but died of his injuries.

South Coast Waratahs recruiting banner

Recruiting banner: South Coast Waratahs, 1915 (Australian War Memorial)

Private Richard McDonald is buried at the Warloy-Baillon Military Cemetery, north east of Amiens, France.

McDonald did not name any next-of-kin on his enlistment papers, but he did name Miss A. May Morrow, of Dapto, Illawarra as his sole beneficiary in the event of his death. His small parcel of effects was forwarded to her in 1917. She also returned the Roll of Honour questionnaire sent by the newly formed Memorial War Museum, stating that he was ‘absolutely without a living relative’. There was however a lovely notice commemorating his death, placed in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 1916 by his friends.

It is not clear whether his war medals and commemorative plaque and scroll were also provided to Miss Morrow, however in 1926 she wrote this time from St Leonards, NSW requesting photographs of his grave.

A simple message was inscribed on Private McDonald’s headstone - ‘My Friend’ which we can assume was added by Miss Morrow.

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The information in this blog post has been researched by State Library staff and volunteers, it is based on available information at this time. If you have more information that you would like to share or further research uncovers new findings, this post will be updated.


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