M'boro headmaster became First World War battalion commander

AN ANZAC hero from Maryborough who commanded thousands of men and faced freezing weather and deadly diseases before being sent to the Dardanelles must be remembered today for his efforts in the First World War.

On this day a century ago, Australian troops, including brave young men from Queensland, from the Third AIF Brigade landed on Lemnos, 96km from the Gallipoli Peninsula.

These troops had been sent to Lemnos to become part of the occupation force should the British Navy succeed in capturing the Dardanelles.

One of these troops was Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. Lee, VD, who commanded the 9th Battalion at Lemnos and landed with them at Anzac Cove on the morning of April 25, 1915.

Born on March 22, 1868, Lt-Col Lee worked as the headmaster at St Helen's State School north of Maryborough and was married to Susan Lee, with six children.

With the other men who were keen to enlist, he travelled by train to Brisbane, where he formed the battalion at Fraser's Paddock, which is now the location for the Enoggera Army Barracks.

The battalion of 1000, including 30 officers under Lt-Col Lee, left Brisbane on board the A5 Omrah from the wharf at Pinkenba on September 24, 1914, and sailed to Albany, where their ship joined the convoy that included the first contingent from Australia and New Zealand to set sail on November 1, 1914.

Other officers from the Wide Bay Regiment were: Major Harvey, Captains Jackson, Lee (son of Lt-Col Lee) and Milne, Lieutenants Harvey (son of Major Harvey,) Ross, Thomas and Young.

The Ionian arrived at Mudros Harbour on the Greek island of Lemnos on the evening of March 4, 1915, where the weather was very cold.

There were only two other ships in the harbour when they arrived, but by next morning it was seen that 10 warships had arrived during the night.

As the ship was so crowded, it was decided that one of the two battalions onboard would camp on shore, the other battalion being the 10th from South Australia.

The two COs decided to toss a coin; Colonel Lee won and elected to take his battalion ashore and live under tents.

After landing, the battalion was taken for a route march and that night, due to lack of tentage, they bivouacked in the open.

However, that night a terrific storm broke, with bitterly cold wind and sleet.

Tentless as the men were, they could only wrap their blankets round them and make the best of it.

Unfortunately, several of the men contracted pneumonia and two men died.

During the seven weeks the Third Brigade spent at Lemnos, it put the finishing touches to its training, with a great deal of attention being paid to practising landing from boats, followed by hill climbing.

By the time they were ready to leave for Gallipoli, the harbour was crowded with naval and transport ships.

It was not until early April that the officers and men of the Third Brigade knew that they would be the covering force for the landing on the Dardanelles.

Lt-Col Lee, along with many other Wide Bay locals, fought valiantly and should be remembered for his efforts.

Lest we forget.

Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. Lee who commanded the 9th Battalion at Lemnos and landed with them at Anzac Cove on the morning of April 25, 1915.
Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. Lee who commanded the 9th Battalion at Lemnos and landed with them at Anzac Cove on the morning of April 25, 1915. John Meyers, Maryborough Militar