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Eric Abraham the last Dungaree digger: we will remember him.

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The Hon. Danna Vale MP Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence

Media Release

Thursday 20 March 2003



The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Danna Vale, today expressed her deep sorrow at the passing of the last of the original Dungaree diggers, World War I veteran Eric Abraham in Queensland.

Mr Abraham passed away in the early hours of this morning at the RSL Pinjarra Hills nursing home aged 104 years.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences on behalf of Australia to the family and friends of Eric Abraham,” Mrs Vale said.

“Eric Abraham was a fine Australian who epitomised the Anzac spirit. Along with his peers, Mr Abraham showed us the importance of mateship and honour in the most difficult of circumstances.

“His contribution to the veteran community over many many years, has enriched the lives of those around him,” she said.

Born 20 April 1898, Mr Abraham was the last surviving original Dungaree digger. He was recruited in Ipswich in November 1915 during the Dungarees March - one of the great World War I recruiting marches.

In October 1916 Eric Abraham was posted to France. During his service with the 5th Division Signals Company, he took part in operations at Villers-Bretonneux and Morlancourt, the Battle of Amiens and the advance to Péronne.

In July 1998, Mr Abraham was a member of a commemorative mission that returned to Villers-Bretonneux in France to mark the 80th anniversary of Armistice. On that occasion he was awarded the Legion of Honour in recognition of his service on the Western Front.

In 1999 he was awarded the 80th Anniversary Armistice Remembrance Medal, the first commemorative medal in the Australian system of honours and awards.

In 2002, he was also awarded the Centenary Medal as an Australian who was alive at the time of Federation in 1901.

“Of the more than 324,000 Australian men and women who served during World War I, only a few remain. But their sacrifice for the ideals of peace and democracy will never be forgotten.” Mrs Vale said.

In 1999 Mr Abraham published his autobiography, A Dungaree Digger.

“I am pleased Eric Abraham was able to publish his memoirs as the last original Dungaree digger. These memoirs are a lasting legacy that will help new generations to better understand Australia’s wartime history,” Mrs Vale said.

With the passing of Eric Abraham, only nine known World War I veterans remain, including fellow Queenslander, Ted Smout.

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 265 289