Behind the 28 names on Cardwell’s WW1 Roll Of Honour lies a compelling story of life that encompasses simple yet profound emotions of tenderness and tragedy.
There is little in the way of triumph.
The stories of those who fought in wars, their own writings and attitudes, and those of their families and friends are rarely about the celebrated triumphs or victories broadcast with great fanfare by prime ministers and presidents.
This history of Cardwell’s war volunteers reveals how some engaged in ‘winning’ those celebrated ‘victories’ died ﬁghting the same battle in the same ﬁelds after victory had been ofﬁcially declared.
Not so rare in the stories of soldiers is the physical and emotional toll their war experiences took on them and their loved ones, even for those who returned.However, there is great honour, cradled like a mother’s gentle embrace around both those who fought and died and those who survived.
Census ﬁgures in 1911 and 1921 recorded the Cardwell Shire population at around 400, although Aboriginal people weren’t counted.
Most Aboriginal people also then lived in bush camps, so the 28 Cardwell men and women who left to ﬁght in Europe represented around seven percent of the town and farming communities.
If, just before amalgamation with Johnstone Shire in 2008, a similar proportion had left for war in Europe, Cardwell Shire would have farewelled 670 of its young men and women.
This comparison underlines the depth of Cardwell’s economic, social and emotional sacriﬁce in WW1 and the powerful desire to ensure it is never forgotten.
It is testament to the character of our small community that a century later, the honour roll symbolising that immense burden of war survives and so prominently.
This interactive display nourishes our spiritual connection with Cardwell’s residents of 1914-18 and the hard post-war years of adjustment when the roll of honour was unveiled.
This project is proudly supported by the Queensland Government.