D C on the Lake managers Craig and Deb O’Callaghan have read and admired so much about Craig’s great uncle, Private Robert Mactier from the first World War.
A statue built in his name in Tatura is to be commissioned by the RSL in September this year. Private Mactier was one of 64 Australians to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest individual award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
During the Battle of Mont St Quentin France on September 1, 1918 Private Mactier was a battalion runner serving with the 23rd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.
He was sent forward to determine the cause of delay in the battalion moving into its jumping off position. The cause was a well placed enemy machine gun.
On his own initiative, Private Mactier jumped out of the trench and charged the gun, killing its crew of six. He then charged two other machine guns, killing more crews and causing at least 40 to surrender.
Aged 28 years, Private Mactier was killed by fire from a fourth machine gun, but not before enabling the battalion to form up on time. He was buried at Clery but in 1924, was reinterred in France’s Hem Farm Military Cemetery near Peronne.
The O’Callaghans, and friends Elaine and Reg Whelan of D C on the Lake are amazed at the heroic tactics of Private Mactier and his commemorations.
“He took on three trenches single handedly and got shot in the last trench,” an emotional 92-year-old World War 2 pilot Reg said.
“He let Australians and British soldiers get through some time, to moved to their jumping off trench.”
Born in Tatura, Private Mactier has been remembered in various ways, including a stain glass window in St Andrews Church Tatura dedicated to the memory of he and his parents and there’s the Robert Mactier VC Memorial Garden commonly known as ‘Mactier Garden’.
The O’Callaghans have been managing the well appointed accommodation park alongside Lake Mulwala for 12 years after being on the farm at Savernake for 12 years. They were invited to the big day in September by the French Government. Tatura Shire Council is to co-ordinate the commissioning of the statute.
“We feel privileged to be invited to see our great uncle’s statute,” Craig, 55, said. “Mum would have seen it as a special privilege but unfortunately she passed away last year.
“It’s particularly pleasing to be invited by the French Government.” Deb expressed her appreciation at authorities and organisations formally acknowledging Robert’s self sacrifice in prominent and everlasting ways.
“We think it’s great that our kids and future generations will have someone, who gave so much and paid the ultimate price, to look up to,” she said.