Our ancestors have played their part in every major British conflict for over two centuries. Loyalty to Queen and Empire throughout Queen Victoria’s 63 year reign is evident, particularly in several rural families with northern Irish roots. Predating that period, John Fowler was a professional soldier enlisting in the 10th Royal Hussars, the ‘Prince of Wales Own’ at Leeds, Yorkshire in 1802. He rose to Sergeant Major, serving in England, Ireland and on the Continent through the war with France, specifically in the Peninsula Wars and at the Battle of Waterloo under the Duke of Wellington. Having served under two Hanoverian kings, George 111 and the Prince Regent, later George 1v, he retired in 1826 but trained reservists at Harwood. Edmund Childs also served in the British Army in the same period, enlisting in Ireland in 1806, fighting in the major battles of the Peninsula Wars between 1808 and 1814 as well as at New Orleans and was discharged in 1821. He then married and reared his family in Newtownards, County Down. Archibald McCallum, brother of John McCallum in Mittagong, was also a professional soldier. After enlisting in the 42nd Royal Highlanders Regiment at Glasgow about 1831 he served in Ireland, Corfu, Malta, Bermuda, Scotland, England and in the Crimean War. As a sergeant, he was a drill master at Alyth before retiring in 1861.
Our first Australian soldier was Edward Scrivener, a member of the NSW Volunteer Corps (Artillery) from 1855. Hugh Gilmore Campbell, his brother Archibald Campbell and brother-in-law Adam McAllister enlisted in Harry Chauvel’s Upper Clarence Light Horse at Tabulum in 1885. The Campbell and McAllister boys then trained under J F Thomas (later solicitor for Breaker Morant) at Tenterfield and competed in military events with distinction. Adam McAllister and Archibald Campbell travelled to England for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1898 and were her personal bodyguards in the procession through London, Adam being one of 10 from NSW presented to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Adam and his brother David McAllister served in the Boer War and both families were represented in the 1st AIF serving at Gallipoli, in the desert war and on the battlefields of France. By then a professional soldier and promoted to Major, Adam McAllister died from wounds in Palestine in 1917. His nephew David Henry McAllister died in France in 1917.
Of the 17 Campbells and McAllisters who enlisted in the First World War, seven were killed and a further six young men were wounded and maimed. Hugh Campbell’s son Warren McAllister Campbell died of disease at Gallipoli, his cousins Archibald McPherson and Henry Campbell Harper died in France as did his nephews Thomas Campbell and Hampton Willis. Other family members who enlisted in World War One were Oswald Adam and Alex Montgomery from Newcastle, Harold Childs who served in the Light Horse in Palestine and brothers Hector Archibald McCallum and Lindsay Stuart McCallum from Mittagong as well as their cousin John Archibald McCallum. The McCallum boys all served on the Western Front. Hector and Lindsay were killed in action. The next generation served in volunteer militias and in World War Two in great numbers, some also serving in Korea and Vietnam. One who served with great distinction was Mary Ann Adams’ great nephew Major Rex Blow, ‘one of the Australian Army’s most daring and colourful heroes of World War 11’. William Bruce McAllister was a prisoner of war in Thailand for three and a half years.
In 1915, Mary Ann Adams’ cousin Ernest Blow of Kiama led the famous Waratah recruitment march from Nowra to Sydney. Like the Campbells and McAllisters, Ernest was a Light Horse soldier. He joined the Illawarra Light Horse in the 1890s, the Berry Half Squadron of the NSW Lancers in 1897, trained in England and from there his regiment went to the Boer War, the first overseas troops to reach Cape Town. Ernest was promoted to Captain. Back on the South Coast he was area officer in charge of cadets between Milton and Helensburgh. In 1915 he was in charge of recruitment and as a result led the Waratah March.