Who Is This Man?

When I attended my first meeting of the Rosewood History Group in November 2021, the group members were shown a photo (above) which had appeared in the Moreton Border News on 12th July, 2002 with the heading Who Is This Man?  

The article accompanying the photo was about the war trophies located near the RSL Memorial Hall at Anzac Park, Rosewood – a 15cm Howitzer gun and 76mm German Trench Mortar. The war trophies were allocated to the town after the Great War. The article said that a machine gun was also sent to Rosewood but its whereabouts was unknown. The RSL was seeking information about when the trophies were dedicated and who the bugler was in the photo.

I was curious and set out to see if I could find the answer to the questions.

In late 1916 the British War Office established a committee to deal with the disposal of war trophies and relics. It was decided that the best of them would go to the British National War Museum and the rest would be distributed to the dominion countries. However, the Australian government, along with other dominion countries insisted that the trophies claimed by their troops should come home to them.

After the end of WW1 the Queensland State War Trophy Committee distributed war trophies to townships having a population of over 150. On the 1st July, 1920 at a Rosewood Shire Council meeting, a letter was read from the Committee saying that a machine gun had been allotted to Rosewood. The Council sent a reply saying that the offer was accepted with thanks.

In September that year the Rosewood branch of the R. S. S. I. L. A. met in the Farmers’ Hall. The president, Arthur Edward Adams, reported that the Shire Council had suggested the League appoint trustees for the war trophy which had been allotted to Rosewood. Several members expressed regret at the lack of public interest in having a memorial and thought the town should be proud to have it. Trustees were appointed:- James Arthur Wells (Chairman Rosewood Shire Council), Arthur Edward Adams and Edward John Hogan.

In September 1921 at a Council meeting, the trustees tried to resign due to apathy and lack of public interest. Subscriptions had not been forthcoming to erect a shed to house the trophies. After a discussion the trustees’ resignation was held over and the chairman decided to call a public meeting to try and drum up public interest and to discuss the planting of Anzac Park.

In October a letter was received from the War Trophies’ Committee advising that the machine gun had been forwarded to Rosewood.

In March 1922 the trustees of the Rosewood War Trophies successfully resigned their positions. It was suggested that new trustees be appointed to address the housing of the trophies. It was also agreed that an effort should be made to retain the trophies even if they were housed outside in the open. They decided to proceed with the work at a cost of £20.

The Queensland State Trophy Committee wrote again in May 1922 informing the Council that an additional field gun had been allotted to Rosewood. On the 27th July a 5.9 howitzer, which had been captured by the 11th Battalion, arrived at Rosewood. The gun was a very imposing spectacle and the town thought it was fortunate in securing such a trophy.

A new War Trophies Committee was formed on 21 August, 1922 to arrange the placement and housing of the trophies. The members were Robert Sellars, Joseph Patrick Walsh, James Elder, George Hughes, Isaac Canham, Herbert Dutney, and Richard Bourne.

Several working bees were held. The first work done was in connection with the big howitzer. It was painted and logs were procured for a foundation. They were placed in position and securely spiked down. Another working bee was held a few weeks later with the ladies providing refreshments. By December the work in regards to placing the gun in position was well underway. The Council sold the cement at cost price to the War Trophy Committee and a platform was cemented in February 1923. 

The trophies faced the entrance to the Park and in mid April a roadway leading to the war trophies was made. The big gun was later placed in position with the anchor bolt holding the gun carriage in position. All of the spikes were supplied free of charge. Eight and a half tons of porphyry were placed on the road approach. Finally a wicket gate was placed at the entrance to keep the cattle out. This completed the work and the guns were mounted in readiness for the unveiling.

On the 6th April a meeting of citizens was held in the Shire Office to make arrangements for a fitting observance of Anzac Day. Rev. Thomas Edwards was the chairman. The following men were appointed as the committee: Revs. Henry Capern, Evangelist Horace Bassard, Captain Fred Evans, Messrs. Wilhelm August Zerner, Robert Sellars, Douglas Banks, James Elder, and James Wells. 

On Anzac Day the 25th April, 1923 the ceremony for the unveiling of the war trophies was held.

Anzac Day was commemorated in a worthy manner by the citizens of Rosewood, who entered unitedly into the spirit of the solemn occasion. The day was observed as a holiday by the schools and public offices, and the business premises were closed from 11 a.m. to 2 pm, although a general holiday atmosphere was felt throughout the day. [Q.T. 26 April 1923]

ROSEWOOD,  April 26. Yesterday morning the president of the Rosewood A. and H. Association (Mr. R. Sellars), assisted by some of the foundation members of the association, hoisted the Union Jack and Australian flag on the new flag pole kindly donated to the association by Mr. Jas. Elder. Several speeches by old members were made.

The Rev. Father Hayes, conducted a requiem mass in St. Brigid’s Church. A united memorial service was held at Anzac Park at noon. The Rev. T. K. Edwards presided, and speeches were delivered by the president, Evangelist Bassard, and Mr. H. Capern. A guard of honour was formed under Capt. F. Evans and Sergt. Bade.  The ceremony under the auspices of the War Trophies Committee of unveiling the three guns allotted to Rosewood was performed by Major A. E. Harte. The “Last Post” was sounded by Mr. W. Dawson, and the National Anthem was sung.

The public celebration of Anzac Day was held in the Farmers’ Hall last night. There was a large attendance, and the Rev. T. E. Edwards presided. The speakers to the first resolution were Mr. Johnson, Major Harte, and Capt. Evans. Evangelist Bassard moved the second resolution, and it was supported by Mr. H. Capern. The chairman read the names of the fallen soldiers from the Rosewood district, and after one minute’s silence at 9 p.m. Mr. Dawson sounded the “Last Post.” [Q.T. Friday 27 April 1923]

 Read another account here.

The secretary of the Rosewood War Trophies Committee applied for permission to plant two Crows Ash trees on either side of the gun in the Anzac Park. The request was referred to the Parks Committee. Subsequently when Cr. Walsh spoke of ordering a number of trees to plant round the boundaries of the park they passed a motion that the trees be sourced from the Curator of the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.

As for the identity of the bugler….

William John Dawson aka John

  • Born:  6th June, 1895 at Gympie.
  • Son of John Wilson Dawson and Hettie Isabella Daly.
  • SERN 3072 – Enlisted at Maryborough 20th October, 1916.
  • 3rd Machine Gun Battalion (Sergeant)
  • Embarked at Sydney per Wiltshire on 7th Febrary, 1917
  • Married Florence May Jeffries (Tailoress) on 13 February, 1919 at the Register Office, Shoreditch, London. 
  • Came home to Aberdeen Wharf, Millers Point, Sydney, Australia on the Megantic 5/3/1920.

Is It Hot at Bourke! – The large number of English brides, Diggers, and dependents who arrived in Sydney by the steamer Megantic on Friday morning were given a cordial reception at the Anzac Buffet. The Diggers had no complaints to make but the brides with beads of perspiration rolling down their faces made anxious inquiries about the weather. “Does it get any hotter than this?” asked one, and immediately there was a renewed waving of handkerchiefs and wiping of faces. “I’m going to Bourke with my husband”chimed in a buxom young woman,”and I am told it is very hot there. Is it?” The reporter walked away. [Warwick Daily News 9 March, 1920]

  • School Teacher – Head Teacher for 10 years at Calvert State School until December, 1928.
  • Methodist
  • I.P.M. Lodge Rosewood 120 U.G.L. (1928)
  • Played the cornet and euphonium.
  • Played the Last Post on every Anzac Day while he lived in the Rosewood area.
  • Died: 18th August, 1942, Chillagoe, Queensland
  • Buried:  Chillagoe General Cemetery

His brother Thomas Temperley “Temp” Dawson also served. He farmed at Lanefield.
(SERN Depot 58320 WW1; Service Number Q204048)

ROSEWOOD, August 21. – News has been received of the death of Mr. W. J. Dawson, Head Teacher of the Chillagoe State School. For 10 years Mr. Dawson was in charge of the Calvert State School. From there he went to Brooklands where he had charge of the school for eight years. He was then appointed head teacher of the Chillagoe State School, which he controlled for 4 ½ years. For almost 28 years Mr. and Mrs. Dawson maintained friendly association with the people of this district, regularly visiting it at holiday periods. The late Mr. Dawson was held in high esteem by all who knew him, particularly by his pupils in all centres. He was 47 years of age and served with the A.I.F. In the last war he held high office in the Masonic Lodge, and was associated with Rosewood, Kingaroy, and Chillagoe Lodges. He is survived by his widow, at Chillagoe, and his mother, at Gympie. A sister of the late Mr. Dawson, Mrs. McKay, lives in the South. His two brothers, Messrs. Temp and Nick Dawson also are attached to the education service in this State. [Q.T. Monday 24 August 1942]

The wherabouts of the machine gun is still unknown.

Researched and compiled by Jane Schy



  1. Great research Jane to solve this mystery. As John Dawson taught at Brooklands (outside Nanango) for 10 years, he possibly taught my father as the dates check out. Funnily enough my father moved to Rosewood in 1952.

  2. Excellent research as usual Jane!!

  3. If he was 47 when he dies, he could hardly have been headmaster at Chillagoe for 41 years. 14 perhaps?

    1. Thank you for pointing that out Harry. It was a typing error and has been corrected.

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