Red Ensign

 

History
This flag is shrouded in mystery. It was reported to have been made early in the period when members of the 2/5 AGH were Prisoners of War in Poland.

 

It is believed that those involved in it's making were Don Mould, Barnie Benjamin, Alec Hellmrich, Fred Butterfield and Jim Kettle, although there may have been others. It is also believed that Jim Kettle played a big part in the sewing together of the components, as he was gifted in the art of tapestry.

 

The flag was seen at a reunion in 1946, where it is believed it was signed by about 70 people. The flag then seemed to disappear for a while, resurfacing at the Australian War Memorial in 2004.

 

The flag was donated to the Australian War Memorial by the Walgett RSL. Where it had been or who had posession of it between 1946 and 2004 is still a mystery.

 

67 names signed on the flag have been identified as being members of, or associated with, the 2/5 AGH.

 

A private display of the flag was organised by the 2/5 AGH Association in conjunction with the dedication of the 2/5 AGH plaque for the Walkway of Rememberance, held at the Australian War Memorial on 17 May 2005.

 

 

Verification
Since the Association was advised by the Australian War Memorial that the flag was in their possession, a lot of work has been done to verify the authenticity of it, who was involved in its making and the identification of the various people whose signatures appear on it.

 

There seems to be no doubt that the flag was made by some of the men who were POWs in Stalag XXA, Poland.

 

It is not certain who actually made the flag, however it is believed (as mentioned above) that Don Mould, Barnie Benjamin, Alec Hellmrich, Fred Butterfield and Jim Kettle may have been the chief instigators. It is also believed that Corporal Jim Kettle played a big part in the sewing in of the components. This was verified by comparing the stitching on the flag with that of several dolls Jim made for his daughter, Pat Bulford. Photos of these dolls can be seen below.

 

It is still not known who had possession of the flag from 1946 until it was given to the Walgett RSL Club, or who presented it to the Australian War Memorial.

 

61 signatures have been verified, but not all of those belong to members of the 25 AGH.

 

Because of this, it is believed that although the flag was made in Poland and signed by some members of the 2/5 AGH, others may have signed it at some form of Army reunion in about 1946.

This would explain how several names of people not in the 2/5 AGH came to be on the flag.

An example of this is Padre Terry O'Brien who, although was in Greece attached to the 2/5 AGH, was not a POW. He was however, at a reunion at about the correct time.

 

Similarly, Sergeant Jimmy Lawton who as a member of the British Army was in Stalag XXA, was one of the interpreters at the camp but not a member of the 2/5 AGH. He was repatriated back to England, but after the war migrated to Australia and lived at Chatswood close by to Vince Egan (2/5 AGH Association Secretary). Vince Egan recalls Sgt Lawton also being at the reunion.

 

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