Exactly 95 years ago today one of Australia’s greatest sons lost his life on the Western Front.
While this was just one of thousands of such events at the time, and in that theatre of war, his was a special story, combining perseverance, resoluteness, and just plain courage, to rise from a son of a farm labourer in rural Queensland to one ofthe finest fighter pilots in the Great War.
His name was Roderic Stanley Dallas, born at Mt Stanley Station some 3 kilometres to the east of Nanango in Queensland on 30 July 1891.
His story is told in great detail in the book by Adrian Hellwig, viz
and also in the Wikipedia link,viz
Major Dallas DSO DFC and Bar Croix de Guerre avec Palme had joined the Royal Naval Air Service (later they combined with the Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force [RAF]in 1918) – the Australian Flying Corps being too small to cater for all those wishing to join at the time – and has been credited with 39 “kills” (some say 51) during his time over the Western Front.
He was shot down on 1 June 1918 and originally interred at Lievin prior to relocation to Pernes.
His was a remarkable achievement and a testimony to his skill and dedication.
The town of Toogoolawah, Queensland, commemorated him in the name of its airport, and the national capitol of Canberra remembered him with Dallas Place. His home town of Mount Morgan has dedicated a water reservoir in his honour; its Historical Society Museum holds a small display [ including a propeller from one of his planes] and the Queensland Museum is the custodian ofhis medals, uniform, log books and some photos and letters.
My wife, Annette, is his great, grand, niece. She was delighted to visit his grave in June 2011 as per the photo below.
This was achieved with the assistance of Johan Vandawalle from Zonnebrooke in Belgium. He is pursuing a memorial for two brothers John and Jim Hunter. John was killed in the battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917 and died in his brother’s arms.
Extraordinarily the Hunters were also from the Nanango area. It is quite likely that during their time on the Western Front the Hunter brothers might have sighted his distinctive SopwithTriplane flying overhead.
The Nanango Three = R.I.P.
*Acknowledgement to Adrian Hellwig, Author of “AUSTRALIAN HAWK OVER THE WESTERN FRONT”