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Community & Business

29 December, 2022

New plaques honour three Furness WWII soldiers

New plaques have been placed on the Gilgandra cenotaph, in honour of Sidney Edward, Neville Charles, and Athol Raymond Furness.

By Emily Middleton

The three Furness’ grew up in the Gilgandra and Gulargambone areas, and each fought in WWII.

Dennis Furness, son of Neville, has been meaning to get the plaques put up for a while.

“I feel pretty good now that they’re up,” said Dennis. “It was something we probably should have done a longtime ago. Dad passed away in 1968, he was only 46-years-old.”

Dennis spoke highly of his uncles Raymond and Sidney. He was proud of all three Furness men and was glad they have their place on the cenotaph.

“Ray wasn’t far behind dad, he died in the mid-70s. But Sidney the bloke who should have gone first yet he lived into his 80s. He had his appendix taken out in a prison of war camp, without-antiseptic, had them cut out, and he suffered a lot from that particular incident,” said Dennis.

“Sid was captured in the Greek campaign, escaped from the prison in Germany, and the resistance looked after him, then a family in Switzerland looked after him, and he worked for them. When the war was over, they sponsored him to come back home to Australia.

“The other two boys (Neville and Raymond) were in New Guinea.”

Dennis was the first generation of all his cousins that weren’t born in the area. When delving deeper into the family line, Dennis and wide Lynne found that it traced all the way back to the 1830s.

“The first person to be here, the first generation, was John Jude, he was the person who took up the parcel run to Armatree in the 1830s,” said Lynne.

“He was a convict; he was sent here for seven years for stealing some chooks.”

The family had been in the area up until Dennis’ father, Neville, moved.

“Because they grew up here and were young adults when they moved from the area, this is where Dennis felt it was appropriate to have their names enshrined on the wall,” said Dennis’ wife Lynne.

“So that’s what we did last year. We were here and we had them done, and thankfully the weather has turned nice, because it was too wet to put them up last year.”

On August 9, 1945, The Gilgandra Weekly pub- lished the following regarding the Furness men.

..“But Neville Furness had lucky escape. Writing home, a Gilgandra boy adds;

“‘Neville Furness and his younger brother are still with this unit. They are brothers of Sid. Neville sent two Japs to meet their ancestors yesterday. He was lucky, too, as they missed him first with a rifle, but he made no mistake with his Bren.’

“The Furness boys are natives of Gilgandra being sons of Mr and Mrs Sid Furness, who now resides in the city. The brother, Sid, referred to recently returned home after a lengthy stay at a prisoner of war [camp] in Germany, being captured in the Greek campaign.”

Dennis and Lynne hope the plaques can be a senti- ment for the Furness family, and for the family name to be remembered. 

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