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Military history lives on with Cowwarr volunteer
Cowwarr Fire Brigade member Doug Steley has a rich family history of Army service, making ANZAC Day a reflective time of the year.
Both his grandfathers and two great uncles served in the First World War, and Doug himself worked as a photographer in the RAAF.
Doug’s grandfather Colin Steley set off as a 24-year-old book-keeper, landing in Gallipoli early in the campaign.
He was wounded in battle but remained on the front line until the evacuation.
Doug’s other grandfather John (Jack) Webster joined as soon as he was old enough to enlist.
The 20-year-old farmer departed Melbourne as part of Machine Gun Company 11.
He was later wounded, incapacitated by gas, and returned home in 1919.
Doug’s great uncles Will and Joe Lang also served during the ANZAC campaign.
“Joe was just old enough to have enlisted with his parents’ permission,” Doug said.
“He served on the Western front as front line infantry, and was awarded the Military Cross in October 1917 for his ‘gallantry and devotion to duty’ and ‘invaluable service while in charge of patrols’.
“Will was a Lieutenant with the 3rd Light Horse machine gun section.
“He was shot in the shoulder while sighting a new machine gun position during the battle of Lone Pine, and was evacuated to a hospital ship offshore of Gallipoli.
“But as an Officer, he refused care until his enlisted men had been treated, and died of a blood clot while waiting for surgery at the age of 22.”
Army service didn’t end with the Great War in Doug’s family, with Joe Lang and Colin Steley going on to serve in WWII, along with his father and uncles.
“My wife was also an Army nurse and my son was a signaller with the Australian Army,” Doug said.
Doug himself is a TPI pensioner, but with permission from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and medical specialists, he’s able to assist CFA in Cowwarr and Heyfield.