Honouring An Unsung Hero @ Kedron’s Lutwyche Cemetery

Early this year, the grave of the Australian War Hero Robert Edward McCormack at Kedron’s Lutwyche Cemetery was identified by Bribie Island RSL sub-branch vice-president Robert Hazelwood using details provided by McCormack’s family and a lot of careful research.


Who is Robert Edward McCormack?

(Photo credit: www.ancestry.com)

Robert Edward McCormack was just 18 when he was sent to fight in France and Egypt during World War I. He had been a victim of gassing during the conflict and had also been admitted to an English hospital due to pneumonia. He managed to survive and make it through the war.

When World War II began, McCormack and several soldiers were deployed overseas. He was deployed in Papua New Guinea because he insisted to fight for Australia again.

After the war, he came back home to his wife and 11 children in Chermside. Sadly, he died after five years, in a motorcycle accident in Sydney. His family struggled to pay for his headstone, because the government was unable to give him a proper ceremony since the cause of his death was not war-related.

“When he died we were actually living out of an old American Army base; we had no money, we were pretty poor and mum never had money for a headstone … The way we used to know where the grave was is we counted the fourth row down and the third grave along, there was a slight depression in the ground,” McCormark’s son, Leo, said.


Brave Men Remain Unidentified

World War I Soldiers
(Photo credit: Names Faces from the Past/Flickr)

The Lutwyche Cemetery in Kedron opened in 1878 for the war soldiers from World Wars I and II, covering 15 acres of land. This is also the home of the numerous unmarked graves of Returned Service Personnel. Just like McCormack, they were not given proper ceremony by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Per current legislation, proper ceremonies should only be given to soldiers who had died from war-related injuries.

Mr. Hazelwood wants to help the descendants of these soldiers. He successfully conducted research on the unmarked grave of McCormack and made replicas of medals that McCormack never received. These were presented during a military service that McCormack never had 67 years ago.

After seeing how important his efforts were to the family, Mr. Hazelwood is determined to help more families with veteran descendants that may be buried in the Lutwyche Cemetery. He is inviting the families to come forward and contact him. According to him, many families could be eligible for Australian war grave financial assistance.

“These people need to be recognised as they are our national treasure,” Mr. Hazelwood said.