Tracing the history of Toowoomba's WWI veterans

Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society researcher Karen Rowe is compiling information on all First World War soldiers who were born in Toowoomba and all First World War soldiers who enlisted in Toowoomba.
Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society researcher Karen Rowe is compiling information on all First World War soldiers who were born in Toowoomba and all First World War soldiers who enlisted in Toowoomba. Stuart Cumming

AN INQUIRY into family history has snowballed into a major First World War research project for Karen Rowe.

Mrs Rowe has been working on and off at the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society for a total of about five years to compile as much information as possible about First World War veterans who were born in Toowoomba.

She is also compiling information on those who enlisted in Toowoomba.

Some of Mrs Rowe's early investigations included compiling an account of the first soldiers to depart from the Darling Downs.

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The introduction reads: "On Thursday, 20 August, 1914, the Darling Downs Gazette reported on the first men accepted for service for World War I with the Expeditionary Forces.

"Toowoomba, Crows Nest, Pittsworth, Oakey, Warwick, Allora, Pratten, Roma, Clifton and Chinchilla contributed men for service with the Light Horse. Toowoomba,

"Ipswich, Roma, Dalby, Gatton, Rosewood and Warwick made up the areas of residence for men to serve in the Infantry.

"The Infantry were to leave on the morning train bound for encampment at Enoggera on Saturday, and the Light Horse were to leave by train on Monday.

"Men of all ages and lifestyles, including sons from prominent local families, turned out in the previous days, hoping that they would be one of the chosen."

Mrs Rowe said her three main points of reference were the National Archives of Australia, embarkation rolls at the Australian War Memorial and First World War nominal rolls.

What started small has become enormous.

"I think it is just that when I started my own family history, I got really interested when I found out all of the people who enlisted in World War I," Mrs Rowe said.

She said there were some lovely stories, some harrowing stories, some good people and some bad people. "It is amazing what you come up with, really."



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