State: Queensland, Australia
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 19/01/1901
Number issued: 2
Gold medals, to:
Reverse (Brisbane Telegraph): " _________ Presented by the citizens of Sandgate, on his return from South Africa".
A SANDGATE WELCOME.
The reception given on Saturday night at the Town Hall to Corporal Frank O'MAHONEY and Private Victor PRIMROSE, as a welcome home, was the most enthusiastic meeting ever held in Sandgate. At 8 o'clock the Sandgate Town Band formed up outside the hall, playing the march "The Return". As this was finished, the band filed into the hall, and the Reception Committee met the guests of the evening on the verandah. As they marched into the crowded building, the band struck up "Soldiers of the Queen". The audience rose, and the cheering drowned the music of the band. The guests of the evening were then presented to his worship the Mayor (Mr Thomas Lee), who was on the platform, supported by Captains Pinnock and Chatworthy, Lieutenants Mason and Paul, and Lieutenant Barnett of the Naval Brigade, Mr T. Bridges, M.L.A., Alderman W.H. Bell, Messrs E.B. Southerden, W.J. Bevington, Sergeant Primrose (father of one of the two guests), Clarkson, and others. The hall was beautifully and appropriately decorated with streamers commemorative of names and events associated with the South African war. Underneath these were large rosettes of red, white, and blue, surrounded by wreaths of evergreens and crossed flags. The portraits of some of the leaders in the war also adorned the walls. The proscenium was very artistically decorated. On the top, in the centre, was the Union Jack, on which rested a large framed picture of the Queen, with the letters "V.R." in gold on red cloth on either side. Resting on bunting behind the chairman were the Queensland ensign and the Federal flag of Australia. These, with large numbers of flags of all nations and Chinese lanterns, made the hall so gay that the decorations received great praise all round. Amongst those in the body of the hall were members of all the leading families in Sandgate, and the ladies were quite as enthusiastic as the men folk.
The Mayor said it seemed only a few months ago that the people of Sandgate gave the young men, Corporal Frank O'MAHONEY and Private Victor PRIMROSE a send-off on their departure with the First Queensland Contingent to fight for the liberty of the Empire in South Africa. All were now glad to welcome them home again. (Cheers.) He believed they had done their duty — the one had been promoted, and the other was highly spoken of by his officers — and he heard that Private PRIMROSE was soon going back again. (Prolonged cheers).
Mr J.C. Hunt then sang "Soldiers of the Queen", the whole audience joining in the chorus. Mr W.J. Bevington also spoke at some length, voicing the cordial feelings of all present towards the returned soldiers and the loyalty to the Empire which influenced alike those who went and those who so heartily welcomed them back. (Cheers).
Mr Voller then sang "Sons of the Bush", the music and words both composed by himself, and was greeted with hearty applause. Mr J.C. Kenyon gave an inspiriting rendering of "The Deathless Army", the audience joining in the chorus. Mr Blanton sang with great force, "The Skipper's Flag", and in response to an encore that could not be denied, "To the Front", all again joining in the chorus.
The Chairman then presented to each of the guests a gold medal bearing the inscription:— "Presented by the citizens of Sandgate to —— (the name of recipient), of the First Contingent sent to South Africa, on their return". On the other side was engraved a figure representing a "gentle-man in khaki". He wished to say that he had been told by an officer under whom our young men had served that Frank O'MAHONEY had proved himself a grand man in the army, and he had also paid a high compliment to Victor PRIMROSE. They had come back stronger and heartier than they went away, although at times they had had hard work, and suffered great privations. The whole audience rose and gave the recipients a great ovation.
On Frank O'MAHONEY rising he was again received with tremendous cheering. He said they had conferred such a great honour on him that speech had deserted him. At times in South Africa, they had had to do long marches with very little food, and when the meat supply ran out in camp, the cry was, — Where is Victor PRIMROSE? He was then sent out, and seldom returned without food, which he always shared with his comrades. He thanked his company officers for the way they had looked after their men. Captain Pinnock had been a true friend. (Loud applause). His best friend was his horse, and anyone going to the war should treat his horse well; his next best friend was Captain Pinnock, and numbers of the men looked on him as on a father. He held a high opinion of the enemy; of course they got behind a rock if they could; so did our men, if they could find one. (Laughter.)
Victor PRIMROSE said words could not express his appreciation of the kindness with which he was received. His comrades had always stood shoulder to shoulder with him, and the Queenslanders had acquitted themselves well; but he was too full to speak. He should treasure the medal presented to him, and always remember that night. (Great applause).
Dr Davidson sang "Queen of the Earth", and received hearty applause.
Loud calls for Captain Pinnock brought that officer to his feet. He said he was not a speaker, but he had been the commanding officer of the two men they were honouring tonight. They had always done their duty, and never flinched from hard work or privations. He was proud to call them comrades. He was proud that he was a Queenslander, but more proud to be a Briton. (Great applause). This war was most unique, and had taught the British army many a lesson; they had done what no other nation could have done by landing such an army at such a distance in such a short space of time. The British transport service was a marvel, and our Tommy Atkins was a marvel. He well remembered a march of 125 miles in four days and, to use a colonial phrase, they rather "kidded" themselves on it, as it was a hot, dusty, summer weather with water scarce. They got to camp at 6 o'clock at night, all tired out. What was their surprise the next day when they found Tommy had done the same thing on foot. As the Tommies marched past their camp with swollen tongues hanging out of their mouths from thirst, he was not ashamed to say it brought the tears to his eyes.
The band played "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue".
Private NEVILLE said he had been in the British army for fourteen years. On getting his discharge he came to Queensland, and on arrival here the contingent was formed, and he joined it. He spoke warmly of kindness received both from Corporal O'MAHONEY and Private PRIMROSE. He narrated some humorous incidents of the war, and said he believed a good percentage of those now returned were only too anxious to go back.
The Mayor proposed a hearty vote of thanks to the Town Band, and Mr E.B. Southerden seconded it, speaking highly of the great improvement they had made under Mr Bloomfield. (Loud applause). Mr Adams returned thanks. Mr Bloomfield also thanked Mr Southerden for the kind things said of him, and the audience for the manner in which the vote had been carried.