TWO members of the Creswick Light Horse and a lone piper led a procession of around 100 people to an unmarked grave in the Ballarat New Cemetery on Sunday morning.
The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba was just two days away but those gathered at the gravesite were there to acknowledge Joseph Edward Mannion, a Sebastopol boy who fought in the Battle of Beersheba, and survived, and lay in an unmarked grave at the cemetery until local war historian, Garry Snowden, discovered his final resting place.
Earlier this year a steering was formed and an appeal set up with the intention of raising $5000 to cover the cost of a full grave restoration.
Joseph Mannion died in 1951, aged 59.
As a young boy he had attended the Redan Primary School.
A slaughterman by trade, at age 20 he enlisted in the 1st AIF on July 9th 1915 and was assigned to the 4th Light Horse Regiment.
He left Melbourne on October 29th 1915 for Egypt and the subsequent Palestine Campaign with the Light Horse.
His service included being part of the famous Charge of Beersheba which occurred on October 31st 1917.
Pvt Mannion eventually returned to Australia on June 15th 1919 and resumed life as a civilian.
“As a young boy, running around the school yard, Joseph Mannion had no idea what lay ahead of him and other young men in Australia, almost 100 years ago,” said Mr Snowden in his opening speech.
“He, along with thousands of others enlisted. Joseph enlisted after casualty lists had been coming back from Gallipoli, so the reality of what war was about was known, he knew what he was getting into.” Amongst the people gathered on Sunday were members of Pvt Mannion’s family, including his great grandson Brendan Mannion who had been doing some research on Joseph Mannion himself.
Brendan said the ceremony was humbling for the family.
“I never even knew his grave was here and when we first found it there was just a stick in the ground,” Brendan said.
“It’s great not only for him but also for my great grandmother, Margaret, who we didn’t know was buried here either.”