A centenary poppy tile has been placed on the grave of veteran Major General George Rankin at Rochester.GRAHAM WILLIS September 3, 2014 3:23am
Rochester RSL Sub-branch members honoured one of the district’s soldiers, placing a centenary poppy tile on the grave of Major General George Rankin recently.
RSL member John Glover and Stewart McBeath, Major General Rankin’s sharefarmer for a decade, attached the poppy tile to the headstone, identifying the grave as that of a World War I veteran.
Major General Rankin was born at Bamawm, the 10th child of Irish farmer James Rankin and Sarah (nee Gallagher).
He attended the local state school and became a farmer at Nanneella.
In 1907, he joined the Militia, and was commissioned in the 9th Light Horse Regiment in 1909.
He married Annie Isabella Oliver at Rochester on July 7, 1912.
In 1914, he was appointed a lieutenant of the Australian Imperial Force and posted to the 4th Light Horse Regiment.
Major General Rankin served in the 4th Light Horse Regiment and reached Gallipoli in May 1915, was wounded in July, became a captain in December and a major in March 1916.
He also served in the Sinai and was second in command of his unit from August 1917.
Rankin was present at the famous charge at Beersheba on October 31 and, in 1918, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his gallantry. His leadership subsequently earned him a bar to his D.S.O.
Mr McBeath recalled Major General Rankin telling him how hard and trying the conditions were at the front.
‘‘He always said the worst thing was having to shoot his horse when they left,’’ he said.
After the end of the war, Major General Rankin was sent to Egypt to suppress a rebellion, after which he returned to Australia.
He returned to the Militia, becoming a brigadier in 1936 and a major general in 1937. During this time, he developed an interest in politics, in particular the Country Party.
Major General Rankin was elected chief president of the Victorian United Country Party in 1937, but resigned later that year in order to contest the seat of Bendigo in the Australian House of Representatives which he won.
He became well known as an advocate of returned servicemen and wheat-farmers.
Mr McBeath remembered one Anzac Day service when the guest speaker, a pacifist minister of religion, stated soldiers were merely paid killers.
‘‘George took to him with vengeance,’’ he said.
He was a voracious critic of the Labor governments of John Curtin and Ben Chifley.
When in 1949, an electoral redistribution substantially changed Rankin’s seat to exclude Rochester and Echuca, he contested the Senate and won.
He was returned in 1951, but his parliamentary activity steadily decreased.
An immensely popular figure, Rankin always enjoyed a beer with his mates, usually on sale day in Rochester.
‘‘He was one of the true characters of the area,’’ Mr McBeath said.
‘‘And in my 10 years working for him I can never remember a cross word.’’
Major General Rankin died on December 28, 1957, aged 70.
BREAKING: An operation led by Wangaratta Crime Investigation Unit has seen 13 people arrested this morning for drug and gun offences.
A 2001 Holden Commodore utility was stolen from Barry Dickson Paint and Panel in Broadway Street, Cobram with thieves cutting through a cyclone mesh perimeter fence to gain entry to the yard.
Heather Donaldson was re-elected president of Tatura Hospital Ladies Auxiliary at the annual general meeting on Thursday, which was attended by 33 people.
MORE than 100 Moama Anglican Grammar School students brought Wonderland to life in their recent school production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.
FOOTBALL star Jake Edwards presented Rochester Secondary College Year 7 and 8 students with life-long lessons he has experienced first-hand.
Unlucky truck driver collides with service station roof
A chance discovery in a Nagambie park has possibly prevented a serious injury.
In tough conditions, the Cats managed to win three of the eight games played at Cobram on Saturday.
LIFESAVERS are not always the people wearing yellow and red standing on a beach.
Cobram’s city centre was shining brightly as the newly-developed streetscape area was officially opened last week.
Coach happy with Rams’ efforts at home.
A group of landholders who brought a civil case against Goulburn-Murray Water over the degrading of farm land through rising salinity have been told they can’t pursue the claim.
The News magazines are online - read the high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.