LOST GRAVE: Frederick Mullaly
LOST GRAVE: Frederick Mullaly

War hero lies in lost grave

FREDERICK Mullaly survived trench warfare in France during WWI, only to be killed by a falling tree five years after he returned home.

It is believed the decorated war veteran was buried in Rannes, in a cemetery that no longer exists, in an unmarked grave.

This injustice is something the Goovigen Historical Society chairperson Desiree Turner is trying to rectify.

She has been battling for months to have Corporal Mullaly honoured, by having a plaque erected at Rannes before next week's Anzac Day service.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen, as there are no official records of him being buried in the Rannes cemetery because all the records have been destroyed.

"Rannes used to be the capital of Banana Shire back in the 20s and there are five other people interned at the cemetery," Ms Turner explained.

"Unfortunately the population of the town declined and now there is little evidence of the busy place it used to be.

"Even the cemetery has gone and unfortunately there are no surviving records of who was buried in the cemetery.

"The land the cemetery is located on is privately owned and over decades it has been grazed on by cattle and ploughed up unsuspecting farmers - there are no stones or markings left.

"Something should be done to remember these people, especially Corporal Mullaly," Ms Turner said.

Frederick Mullaly enlisted with the 44th Battalion while living in Western Australia, he was transported overseas to France and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Palm Medal for conspicuous services - medals he never received personally because they were mailed to his previous address in WA.

Upon returning to Australia, he moved to Jooroo (near Goovigen) to work on a farm with his brother.

Frederick was felling trees on the property in May 1925 when part of a tree struck him in the head, crushing his skull, killing him instantly.

Banana Shire Council had previously engaged a surveying company to conduct work, using x-ray and sonar equipment to attempt to locate the graves in Rannes, but nothing was located.

Frederick's citation

BELOW is the citation for which Corporal Frederick Mullaly received the Crois de Guerre.

This non-commissioned officer continuously carried scouting work in 'No Man's Land' greatly assisting in protecting the Battalion front.

Whilst coming to the line north of Bray on the night August 24, 1918, six other scouts were wounded by enemy shell.

Corporal Mullaly then took charge of the scouts and re-organised them and took over the protection of the Battalion front prior to its attack on Ceylon Wood.

He went forward in command of the scouts with the Battalion.

On the night of August 25 when the Battalion went forward he again had charge of the scouts.

Again on the afternoon on August 28 he took the scouts forward in a different advance in daylight.

He did excellent work in locating and directing our fire on to hostile machine guns thus disposing of enemy opposition.