Yvonne and Peter Townsend at the John Leak Monument in Rockhampton after the 2018 Remembrance Day service. Peter is John Leak's grandson.
Yvonne and Peter Townsend at the John Leak Monument in Rockhampton after the 2018 Remembrance Day service. Peter is John Leak's grandson. Michelle Gately

Link with VC winner brings special moment at 100th Armistice

HONOURING the men and women who died in service of their country on Remembrance Day was a very personal occasion for Peter Townsend yesterday.

Standing side by side with hundreds of people at the memorial of his grandfather John Leak VC, the first Queenslander to receive a Victoria Cross, was an emotional moment for Mr Townsend on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War in 1918.

"It is hard to separate days like today with my personal connection to it (the monument),” Mr Townsend said.

"It's a nice place for people to come and remember, and it's even better for me because it is my grandfather.

Remembrance Day service, Rockhampton 2018.
Remembrance Day service, Rockhampton 2018. Michelle Gately

"I couldn't think of a better place to come and remember. It says 'Lest We Forget' and you can't help but remember that when you see it.”

For Mr Townsend, days like Remembrance Day are not only a reminder of the sacrifices made by men and women in service but also of the importance of continuing to honour the tradition and significance the day hold.

"The soldiers put their lives of the line for what we have today and with that, they deserve the right to be honoured,” he said.

"Once our generation is gone and our children's generation is gone there won't be any soldiers left to carry on with Remembrance Day or Anzac Day.

"It comes down now to the schools to educate children on the history so it can be remembered forever.”

Since the monument was built in 2012, Mr Townsend said he has been touched to see how the community has responded to it.

"When we first started off in 2012 after the memorial was built we had probably 50 people and over the years it has slowly gotten bigger,” he said.

The service was organised by the 9th Battalion AIF Living History Unit.

Remembrance Day service wreath laying, Rockhampton 2018.
Remembrance Day service wreath laying, Rockhampton 2018. Michelle Gately

About John Leak VC:

  • Born in 1892, Portsmouth, England.
  • Died in 1972, Adelaide, South Australia
  • He moved to Australia as a boy
  • He enlisted in the AIF in January 1915
  • He was awarded a Victoria Cross for action at Pozieres, France whilst serving with 9 Battalion, 3 Brigade, 1 Division as a Private.