Wall of Remembrance at Australia’s National War Memorial in Canberra. George Henry “Harry” McNeill lived in Londonderry with his parents, two brothers, and sister. Jobs in the city were scarce, so he decided to go to Australia and learn sheep farming. There were cousins already out there who had a farm.
In May 1914 Harry set sail for Australia and started farming. Then in September 1914, war was declared and Harry and the O’Brien cousins all joined up straight away. Harry joined the Australia Light Horse and his cousins the Machine Gun Corps.
The 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment AIF was the only AIF light horse regiment recruited in Western Australia during the First World War.
The regiment was raised in October 1914 when it became apparent that Western Australia could provide more than a single squadron of mounted soldiers. The regiment joined the 3rd Light Horse Brigade in Egypt and served dismounted at Gallipoli.
The regiment’s most famous actions were the charge at the Nek on 7 August 1915, and Hill 60 on 29-30 August. It was in this last action that Lieutenant V.H. “Hu” Throssell performed the valorous deeds for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the only Australian light horseman to be so decorated during the Great War.
Harry was sent to Gallipoli in early 1915 and it was there on Walker’s Ridge on the 07/08/1915 Harry was killed. He was just 19 years old. His cousins were all killed on the Somme.
In Londonderry, a service was held for him in Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church and he is remembered on a plaque in the church also on the war memorial at the Diamond.
The family did not know Harry had a grave and it was about twenty years ago that a lady from the Irish Republic was on holiday in Turkey and was walking round a war cemetery and spotted the grave. She very kindly contacted the newspaper in Londonderry and they appealed for family to come forward.
The war graves commission very kindly sent the family pictures of the grave.
The family commented, “Harry was a very brave young man and it is heartbreaking that all his dreams of a life in the wide open spaces of Australia, ended in the hell that was Galipoli.
“Harry is buried in Ari Burnu cemetery and if any of you are out there on holiday please pause a moment by his grave.”
+McNEILL, Henry George
10th. Australian Light Horse. Trooper. 735. Died 07/08/1915. Aged 19. Son of John O’Brien McNeill and Eleanor McNeill, of 24, Wesley St., Londonderry. Ari Burnu Cemetery, ANZAC, Gallipoli, Turkey. Daimon WM Londonderry, Carlisle Road PCI WM