News

Man mounts desperate hunt for war record

WHERE'S our honour board?

It's the 57-year-old mystery that inspired John Rathjen to trawl desperately through national service records to compile a list of one small town's war heroes.

The honour board, which commemorates a group of Gladstone region soldiers, disappeared in 1957.

The board, listing more than 22 names of First and Second World War servicemen, disappeared from the Biloela School of Arts building in 1957.

Mr Rathjen, 79, has made it his goal to track down the name of every world war serviceman from the district so he can feature them on a new honour roll.

After two weeks of searching, the Biloela grandfather-of-four has found 22 names.

But as he trawls through hundreds of thousands of names on websites like the National Archives, he holds hope the old honour board itself will be found.

The missing historical artefact is the only memorial to the district's servicemen - from any war.

It disappeared - probably taken by a well-meaning resident for safekeeping - during a building refurbishment in Biloela.

Ironically, Mr Rathjen, a national serviceman and retired Army Reserve major, helped work on the building all those years ago.

"I was in Biloela in 1957 - in fact I rewired the bloody thing when they refurbished it," he said.

"It's only come to a head this year with the advent of the centenary of the First World War.

"We want to reinstate it so we have a record of servicemen from Biloela."

Mr Rathjen said the majority of names would stem from the Second World War.

"There wouldn't be too many from Biloela in the First World War, because Biloela wasn't established as a town until 1924, but there were people from the district who were graziers and worked on stations prior to that who went to the First World War," he said.

Mr Rathjen said he recently started the hunt for local servicemen.

"I have started doing a search on a website - it's a tedious job I might add," he said.

"You've got to go through until you get a name that looks familiar to you and then go looking to see where he was when he enlisted.

"I've found 22 so far - that's with nearly a week or two of searching.

"Sometimes the army records are a bit difficult to latch on to.

"It's okay if people have got relatives who served in the war and we have their regiment number.

"That can make it very simple. When you've got a regimental number, that follows you from the cradle to the grave.

"We had one recently - the council asked me to go looking for a private. Nobody knew where he lived.

"I went searching and found his number on a roll after looking through 230,000 people, which was a bit of a trying exercise to take on."

Mr Rathjen was a child during the Second World War, so his memory is a bit hazy.

However, he's enlisted his older sister to help with the hunt.

"I wasn't old enough to understand really what went on," he said of his younger years.

"I've brought in one of my sisters who was about 16 when the Second World War started - she's compiling a list of names for me.

"With her memory, I reckon we'll have everybody in Biloela who served in the Second World War."

Mr Rathjen said he would be ecstatic if the original honour board turned up.

"Without it we have no memorial at all," he said.

"It's an average honour board - pretty much looks like any that you'd find in a local bowls club.

"We don't hold out a lot of hope of finding it. We'd be very, very thrilled if it turned up.

"These blokes who went to the Second World War - their names should never be lost."

If you know where the board is, contact Mr Rathjen on 4992 1170.

Topics:  biloela, honour roll, war, war veterans




Gladstone man on front lawn with sign to score job: 'It's hard'

Robert Webb has been unemployed for a long time so is hoping this sigh in his front yard will help. Family Abbey, 11, Wendy, Skye, 13, and Brodie, 15, hope it does as well.

HIS kids found it embarrassing but he's determined.

Gladstone police release CCTV footage of violent Reef Hotel incident

PRIME SUSPECT: Police would like to speak to this man or anyone who knows him in relation to an alleged assault at Industrie Nightclub on July 2.

SECURITY guard left with multiple facial fractures.

'Need to get it right': Coles approval to bring 180 new jobs

NEW JOBS: Decision on Coles development to be made tomorrow by the council.

"WE want development and construction and jobs but not at any cost."

Latest deals and offers

Matilda The Musical's clean sweep at Helpmann Awards

A scene from Matilda The Musical.

TIM Minchin-scored production enjoys record awards haul.

Harry's MasterChef exit makes way for all-Noosa grand final

Harry Foster congratulates MasterChef finalists Elena Duggan and Matt Sinclair after a closely-fought semi-final.

YOUNG Rocky-born cook now working in his dream job in Tasmania.

Kim Kardashian West bemused by selfie 'drama'

Kim didn't expect her naked selfie to cause the stir it did

Alicia Vikander hasn't been home since Oscars

Alicia Vikander "hasn't been home" for nearly nine months.

Tom Hiddleston not worried about relationship attention

Attention doesn't bother 'authentic' Hiddleston

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field to expand family?

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field want more children.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles