Visitors to the Fraser Coast have long been fascinated by the region’s rich military heritage, and this week gives an incredible reason as to why.
Lieutenant (later Major) Duncan Chapman, was the first Anzac to step ashore at Gallipoli and 15 months later was killed on the bloody French battlefield of Pozieres, just one day before the German forces retreated.
Lieutenant Chapman was killed in action on August 6, 1916.
He wrote home of the “extreme honour” given him to be the first Anzac to step ashore at what would become known an Anzac Cove, leading a charge up the hill in the legendary attack by the 9th Battalion – the “Fighting 9th” that still carries the words “First Ashore”.
The Fraser Coast will commemorate the 100th anniversary of both military icon Duncan Chapman’s death along with the sacrifices of all the Anzacs at Pozieres and along the gruelling Western Front, with a number of special services this Saturday, August 6.
In particular, the Maryborough-born hero will be honoured with a short 4.30pm service at the site of his Queens Park monument to be attended by military and civic leaders, as well as a representative of the French Embassy, Wing Commander Guillaume Michel.
“We are very proud that our region shares an important link with the significant historical Australian military figure in Duncan Chapman, a hero in every sense of the word,” said Nancy Bates, President of the Duncan Chapman Memorial Appeal Committee.
The Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum
Maryborough’s famous Military Museum houses over 7,000 items of military and colonial memorabilia, which form displays of exceptional quality and as Australia largest collection is a must for any history buff.
The museum has recognised the importance of Duncan Chapman, and commissioned a bust from white beech wood which is now on display at the entrance to the museum’s Gallipoli Room. Visitors can also see one of Lieutenant Chapman’s medals on display.
Fraser Island Military History
Lieutenant Duncan Chapman is by no means the only link to a fascinating and significant military past, with visitors captivated by both Fraser Island’s famous Maheno Shipwreck having a history as a hospital ship which took part in both the Gallipoli campaign and the western front during World War One, as well as the island’s use as a training ground for an elite unit called ‘Z Special Unit’ in World War Two.
Between October 1943 and 1945 the Fraser Commando School (FCS) on Fraser Island trained over 900 personnel of the Services Reconnaissance Department (also known as ‘Z Special Unit’) in skills including unarmed combat and physical training; jungle craft, folboats (canoes), demolitions and weapons training.
‘Z Special Unit’ was a joint Allied special forces unit in WW2 which operated behind Japanese lines in South East Asia. The group was responsible for many successful missions aimed at guerrilla warfare, sabotage and reconnaissance.
Secrecy has surrounded the ‘Z Special Unit’ for decades- even after the war- but today, guests at Kingfisher Bay Resort can learn first-hand about one of the most mysterious and successful chapters of Australia’s military history with a three-hour guided tour of the Z Commando School site.
Guests can join an ex-Commando for this guided walk, re-trace the footsteps of Australia’s brave military heroes and learn about the unique skills these Commandos acquired during their time training on Fraser Island.
- For last minute enquiries regarding Duncan Chapman centenary services and dinner, contact the Maryborough RSL Club on +617 4122 2321
- Learn more about the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum atwww.maryboroughmuseum.org
- Learn more about Kingfisher Bay Resort’s guided walks and secure a tour booking via www.kingfisherbay.com
- For more information on your next visit to the Fraser Coast, including accommodation options, tours and deals – head towww.visitfrasercoast.com