There are few people in the world that are so alone that they would record their boss as their next of kin, but such was the case with Herbert Hamilton.

He was a farmhand in Millers Forest,which is in my electorate of Paterson.

Bert, as he was known, enlisted in the Australian Army on 7 December 1915.

In his papers he declared that both his parents were dead and he had no known family.

As a child, he was a ward of the state.

He left Australian shores to fight in the war and arrived in France in August 1916.

Here Private Herbert Hamilton was taken on with C Company of the 51st battalion and joined preparations.

The attack went ahead on 3 September.

After the battle, Private Hamilton was listed as missing in action.

His death was later confirmed, on 23 April 1917, by a court of inquiry.


In 1922, the Army records office wrote to Bert's former boss, Tom Elkin, whom he had listed as his next of kin on his enlistment papers.

The office was looking for Bert's relatives so his medals could be issued.

But Tom had no knowledge of any relatives.

For almost 100 years, Bert Hamilton had no-one to mourn his passing, and his medals were never issued.

I am relieved to report that that has changed.


Private Hamilton's memory is now honoured in my electorate of Paterson.

This is due to the impeccable and tenacious work of two local historians, John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher.

As part of their local centenary of Anzac commemorations contribution, Mr Gillam and Ms Fletcher discovered anomalies in the issue of medals and mementoes and even reports of a 2½-tonne stockpile of unclaimed war service medals.

Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society president, Ken Barlow, supported the historians' application to DH&A to have the medals issued to the society's approved museum to appropriately commemorate Private Hamilton's service
and sacrifice.


When this stalled, I was honoured to intervene by contacting the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Dan Tehan, on behalf of the historical society.

The medals were issued and a precedent was set for other bona fide applicants to have the medals issued posthumously.

I was given the honour—it was, indeed, such an honour—of making the official handover of these medals to Mr Barlow at a ceremony attended by various RSL sub-branch
representatives.

Private Herbert Hamilton, you are no longer alone.

Paterson remembers you.