Inverell library manager Sonya Lange was delighted to receive a rare local history treasure from the Delungra and District Development Council this week.
Meticulously researched by Warialda teacher Donna Smith, Peter McCarthy presented a book which follows the lives of the men on the Delungra Roll of Honour to Mrs Lange on Wednesday, November 8.
The Development Council will also donate copies to two dignitaries taking part in Saturday’s Remembrance Day service and to Delungra Public School.
It is a true passion for Ms Smith, who has also researched the Warialda honour roll, and men and women from Wallangra, Graman, Gravesend, Yetman.
“It’s amazing,” Mrs Lange said.
“Often people are interested in finding out family history. They may know that someone has served, and we can often find their war records online, that’s quite accessible – but finding that personal story, that information to really tell you something about who the person was and what their experiences were, that’s really difficult.”
She said that works like Ms Smith’s often required years of research and the sacrifice of time and money. Mrs Lange said it was amazing to have so many stories captured in one place, and made accessible for families.
“It’s far more than the Delungra community. Many of these men will have had ties throughout the entire district,” she said.
A local historian himself, Mr McCarthy was amazed when he discovered Ms Smith’s work, which includes photos of soldiers, their medals and news extracts from the time.
“She has independently gone through the honour roll and made a virtual history of each serviceman. There’s 106 on the roll and she scored 104 out of 106,” he said.
“It’s a brilliant piece of work as far as I’m concerned.”
Joining forces with Ms Smith, Mr McCarthy, who is equally passionate about Delungra’s history, helped finish her research. He had information on one of the two missing soldiers, but the pair were stuck on one last name.
“We were both missing one in particular, we couldn’t make it out. The name was Millar,” he said. Searching military records, newspaper archives and even google, neither could find a match on a Millar or Miller who had served in Delungra. One day, Mr McCarthy had a brainwave and added a ‘d’ to the end – searching for Millard.
“It came up straight away. It’s that simple once you know the answer,” he said.