Day to remember sacrifices

Dugald Miller stands tall in his uniform as a member of the Rockhampton Volunteer Defence Corps in the Second World War.
Dugald Miller stands tall in his uniform as a member of the Rockhampton Volunteer Defence Corps in the Second World War. Contributed

ON Anzac Day eve each year, Margaret McMaster's mother would stay up all night polishing her and her husband's medals.

Like so many other veterans, it was a day to be proud of the service they had given to their country.

Now, for Gracemere's Margaret and her children, it is a day to remember them.

Margaret's father, Dugald Macintyre Miller, was born on the Isle of Islay off the west coast of Scotland in 1887.

After joining the 8th Battalion Princess Louise's Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders in 1914, Dugald moved up the ranks quickly, eventually being promoted to First Lieutenant.

"He was serving in France during the First World War when he met my mother, Gertrude Lilla Guess," Margaret said.

"She was serving as a clerk with the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps there at the time."

After getting married right in the middle of the First World War, Dugald and Gertrude migrated to Rockhampton in 1924 with the first two of their seven children, where they settled down in a house on Norman St, Wandal, which still stands today.

Then, Dugald, a man who loved words and writing poetry, was posted at The Morning Bulletin as advertising manager.

"He used to make up funny rhymes when we were young, teasing us," Margaret said.

"He had a great sense of humour."

It was at The Bully that Dugald, who began writing poetry during the Great War, really started to embrace his rhyming skills under the pen name of Calluna.

"Every year on Anzac Day one of his poems would be put on the front page of the newspaper," Margaret said.

Margaret, who was born in Rockhampton, recalled waking at 3am on this day every year during her childhood to walk to the bus which would take them to the Dawn Service before they ventured to the march.

"My father would march proudly in the Anzac parade as would my mother," Margaret said.

"My mother was the only First World War ex-servicewoman to march for many years."

During the Second World War, Margaret said her father, who was a member of the Rockhampton RSL, joined the Volunteer Defence Corps.

"He helped make the maps for the Australian and American forces," she said.

"I remember he would always meet American soldiers at Anzac House (now Tobruk House), which he used to frequent, and invite them home for meals and company.

"He said it was because he knew what it was like to be away from home during a war."

While Dugald and Gertrude have since passed, Margaret and the rest of the remaining family continue to keep their memory alive.

Today, they, along with families right across Australia, will stop to remember the importance of Anzac Day.

Of all the conflicts that Australia was involved in from 1914 to Vietnam, the only one that a member of Margaret's family has missed was the Malayan Emergency, with her brothers Dug and Ian following in their father's footsteps.

Topics:  anzac day, margaret mcmaster




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