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Farewell to last Tasmanian hero of World War I.

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

Media Release

Saturday 23 August 2003



The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Danna Vale today expressed sorrow at the passing of Tasmania’s last World War 1 veteran, Frank MacDonald. Winner of the Military Medal, Mr MacDonald was also Australia’s last decorated World War I veteran.

Mr MacDonald died early this morning at the age of 107.

“I extend my sincere condolences to Mr MacDonald’s family at this difficult time,” Mrs Vale said.

“Mr MacDonald demonstrated his courage in the most trying of circumstances and was rightly honoured with the Military Medal for his actions,” she said.

“As Australians, we owe Mr MacDonald and his fellow veterans a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they made in the defence of this country and her allies. We will remember them.”

Mr MacDonald enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in March 1916, at Claremont in Tasmania. After training in England, Corporal MacDonald was posted to France, where he served with the 40th Battalion until December 1918.

The 40th took part in many significant operations in France and Belgium, most notably the battalion attack at Morlancourt in March 1918. Despite this, Corporal MacDonald was never wounded, which was remarkable for an infantryman.

In early 1918, Corporal MacDonald was awarded the Military Medal for ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in action’ in Belgium on 12 October 1917. The medal was awarded for his key role in maintaining vital lines of communication between the Battalion Forward Station and the Battalion Headquarters under almost continuous heavy fire, until the battalion was relieved.

After the war, Mr MacDonald returned to Australia and civilian life as a clerk and paymaster, salesman and a real estate agent.

With the outbreak of World War II, Mr MacDonald again answered the call to serve, this time within Australia providing administrative support services in Sydney.

In November 1998, Mr MacDonald received the Legion of Honour from the French Government and 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.

With the passing of Frank MacDonald, only six known Australian World War I veterans still remain.

Media Contact: Rachael Thompson 0417 265 289