Rod MacLean – Researcher
Rod MacLean from Goulburn is an ex-member of the Army Reserve, having served with the 3rd Battalion, Royal New South Wales Regiment. He joined the Goulburn RSL Sub Branch and became Secretary in 2000, a position which he still holds.
He says, “My maternal grandfather (5410 Sergeant Albert Alfred Voller) served in the 19th Battalion as one of the 14th Reinforcements of 1916 and I was fortunate enough to have him tell me quite a bit about how WW1 was fought, the tactics and damage done to the villages, towns and countryside.”
“After suffering a work injury and being medically retired, I started to pursue military history in depth, compiling a register of all Goulburn’s war dead. It was during this research that I found that there were unit histories of other battalions from all conflicts, but none for the 19th Battalion, so I started to collect information on it to go into a book at a later date. This was before the internet and I spent many hours at the War Memorial in Canberra copying war diary entries from microfiche into a note book.”
“This led to an even bigger project when I started compiling names to go onto an Honour Roll for those from the district that served in WW2 up to Vietnam, as up until then, they did not have a memorial. After three years of solo work and collecting over 3000 names, plus fundraising efforts, the memorial was completed and I had the honour of performing the unveiling in May 2002.”
For his work on the memorial, Rod was awarded a Rotary Citizenship award and a plaque of appreciation from the Goulburn RSL Sub Branch, as well as a certificate of appreciation from the Goulburn City Australia Day Council. The memorial, located in Goulburn’s Belmore Park across the road form the Goulburn Soldiers’ Club and the RSL Sub Branch, recognizes the contribution of those who served and suffered for their country.
Rod’s work in remembering the service of people from the Goulburn district did not stop there. He goes on to say, “I am also chief researcher for the GoulburnWarMuseum and was one of the first to join as a volunteer when it opened in 2000. I served as member of the organising committee for the Goulburn 50th Anniversary of the end of WW2. I was also a member of the committee that organised the 75th anniversary of the unveiling of the Goulburn WW1 memorial, located on Rocky Hill, in 2000.”
“I am currently jointly responsible for the organising and running of Anzac Day services and other local commemorative events throughout the year. I have also assisted other local towns with rolls of those that served in order that their war memorials are as accurate as possible. We have any missing names added when repairs or upgrades are done. Families of those that served have also asked for help in finding more about their relative’s war service, as I have received requests from New Zealand and the UK as well as from interstate. All this is given free, as I see it as a voyage of discovery and the research helps me learn a lot more about Australia’s military history.”
Rod had already begun his work in compiling a nominal roll of the 19th Battalion with a view to possibly writing a book, when he mentioned this to a friend, who also had a relative who had served with the 19th and who had been killed in action in the Mont St Quentin attack (this was 2055 Corporal John Ignatius Mooney, originally from the Goulburn area). Rod recalls, “He told me that Wayne Matthews and David Wilson were also working on the same project, and after meeting them, I offered them what I had already collected, as their work was a lot further advanced than mine. David asked me to continue compiling the nominal roll, as it allowed them to concentrate on writing the story. From that working relationship a friendship has grown and I’m truly honoured and humbled to see their work available and to have played a small part in its being published.”
Rod’s contribution to the book is the compilation of the Master Nominal Roll of some 4842 names, plus a number of other lists such as that of men who served in the AN&MEF in New Guinea before joining the 19th Battalion. “And there may be even more names out there that we may have missed,” he notes, “so if anyone knows of any men we may have missed, then please let us know. There are some fascinating personal stories in the men’s files, many of which appear in the book. Some of them got themselves into some amazing scrapes. The men of the First AIF were a tough breed and we’ll not see their like again.”
Rod MacLean continues his work in gathering information to commemorate service men and women of the Goulburn district.