The story of one of Canungra’s Anzac heroes

DIGGER: Private Herbert Swallow was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915. Photo: Courtesy of Canungra RSL Sub Branch Inc.

DIGGER: Private Herbert Swallow was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915. Photo: Courtesy of Canungra RSL Sub Branch Inc.

Little is known about how Englishman Herbert Swallow ended up living in Australia in the early part of last century.

However, what is known is the great service and sacrifice he made for his adopted country and the greater British Empire during World War I.

Herbert was among the immigrant workers from the Canungra district who fought and died as Australians during the Great War.

He was 28 years old when he enlisted on January 1, 1915, joining the 15th Battalion.

Six weeks later, he boarded the HMAT Seang Bee, which sailed from Brisbane on February 13.

Herbert landed at ANZAC Cove late on the afternoon of April 25 and in the weeks that followed played a key role in establishing and defending the front line of the beachhead.

Suffering a badly crushed finger on May 6, Herbert was treated at a New Zealand field ambulance and then transferred to the hospital ship Lutzow which carried him back to Egypt.

Luckier than many Australian soldiers, Herbert survived not one but two landings on the remote Turkish peninsula, rejoining the 15th Battalion on June 12.

However, his luck did not last and two months later Herbert became a casualty of the disastrous attempt to break the stalemate which had existed since April.

Herbert Swallow, reported wounded and missing on August 8, was among those who simply vanished in the chaos and carnage that day.

It was not until April 1916 – four months after the evacuation of the peninsula – that a court of inquiry determined that Private Herbert Swallow had indeed been killed in action at Gallipoli.

More than 100 years after his death, Herbert Swallow’s name lives on, engraved on Panel 49 of the memorial in Gallipoli’s Lone Pine Cemetery.

One of his remaining relatives is Diane Hatwell who lives in Dowerin in Western Australia and also emigrated from England in 1961.

Ms Hatwell, whose mother is Herbert Swallow’s cousin, said she traveled to Gallipoli in 2008 to pay tribute to her relative and all the other soldiers who were killed in action.

“Of all the dawn services and ceremonies we went to, it was seeing Herbert’s name at Lone Pine that was the most moving part,” she said.

“To have this personal connection to World War I and to see it in the flesh was very emotional.”

Ms Hatwell said her father also served in the RAF in World War II and the family all knew of Herbert’s role in the Gallipoli landing.

“My Dad used to call him ‘Digger Herbert’ and while we didn’t know too much about him, we were all proud of what he did over there during the war.”

For more information about Herbert Swallow and other members of the Canungra community who served in the military for their country, head to canungraansweredthecall.org.au