The Star-Crossed Flag of Australia

Guest blogger: Marilyn Stewart, Gladstone

State Library recently received an email from Ms Marilyn Stewart from Gladstone, regarding two poems written by her Grand Uncle John (Jack) Cheshire, son of Thomas and Alice Cheshire of Innisfail, Queensland.

Alice and Thomas Cheshire of Innisfail

Alice and Thomas Cheshire of Innisfail

The poems have been in her family for decades, and Ms Stewart wished to have them published in some way so she and her family could commemorate their relatives who served.

Jack Cheshire, WW2

Jack Cheshire, WW2

Jack Cheshire did not serve in the First World War, but served as a sapper in New Guinea during the Second World War. He wrote the poems while on active duty. The poems are titled On the Road from Wau to Lae and The Star-Crossed flag of Australia. Jack was a talented pianist as well as a poet, and Ms Stewart was keen to share the words to The Star-Crossed flag of Australia, as she felt it could be easily adapted to music.

The Star-Crossed Flag of Australia

There’s a land in the south

So fair and so free

With a kindred both loyal and true

It’s the land of Australia

Crowning the sea

A gem in its setting of blue 

We claim sturdy yeomen and sailors brave, who ride the lone forests and dare the wild waves

They proudly would die, her banner to save, The Star Crossed Flag of Australia

 

In our hearts we are true to our dear native land

Our own bushland, we love best on earth and to save her from foemen we’ll gallantly stand and fight for the land of our birth

We’ll guard her green pastures and glittering gold and shield her fair daughter’s and honour uphold

A nation united as one will unfold The Star Crossed Flag of Australia

Chorus:

It’s the flag which we Australians ever boast

It’s the flag we will drink in every toast

It’s the flag we prize and dearly love the most

It’s the Star Crossed Flag of Australia

Jack Cheshire WW2 service record excerpt

Jack Cheshire WW2 service record excerpt

Jack Cheshire did not quite survive the Second World War. He returned to Australia in 1944, but died in Innisfail from Malaria, and is buried in Cairns. Jack had joined the Army during WW2 to find his son, who had been taken from him when his wife decided to return to New Zealand.  He had searched for him since he was a toddler and continued to search throughout the War, but never found a trace of him.  Unfortunately he died a broken-hearted man on 4 September 1944, ill and grieving not only for his son, but for his much loved brother Thomas.

Jack’s brother 5994 Private Thomas Michael Cheshire did serve in the First World War, and went to the Western Front as part of 9th Battalion. He was a train engine fireman in Innisfail when he enlisted in Townsville on the 14 February 1916, and embarked on 8 August 1916 on the troopship Itonus for England.  A case of the mumps in 1917 and a gunshot wound to the face in August 1918 saw Thomas in and out of hospital, but he survived the war and returned to Australia on the Ormonde in July-August 1919. His service record indicates that he was a bugler in addition to his infantry duties. He was tragically killed aged 51 in a train accident near Cardwell, 9 July 1944. Two months later, Jack also passed away.

Brickworks display, Ingham Show: John (Jack) and Thomas Cheshire, their brother-in-law Arthur Neilsen and his father Jens Neilsen

Brickworks display, Ingham Show: John (Jack) and Thomas Cheshire, their brother-in-law Arthur Neilsen and his father Jens Neilsen

Thanks again to Ms Marilyn Stewart for sharing her story, and a stirring, hopeful poem amid family tragedy.

Robyn Hamilton - QANZAC100 Content Curator, State Library of Queensland

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From this blog our family got into contact with the descendants of our John (Jack) Cheshire after 90 years of searching for "little Jacky" he has now been found and the families reunited although sadly John Cheshire's son Jack had only recently passed away before contact was made. Thank you to the State Library of Queensland for this public resource.