The gates and history

THERE are two points I want to clarify about the article ‘‘Gate-opener a real hero’’ (Herald H2 19/5).

First, Townson Oval has no connection with the name of the memorial at Mitchell Street, Merewether. Townson Oval, which lies within Mitchell Park, was so named in the early 1970s. The earliest record I have seen of a name for the memorial was in The Newcastle Morning Herald on March 14, 1921, which reported on the unveiling of the ‘‘Merewether memorial gates’’ by Brigadier-General John Paton. In the register of war memorials in NSW it is called ‘‘Mitchell Park Memorial Gates – Merewether’’.

Second is the question of who was the last Anzac to leave. There is no doubt that John Paton, as a colonel in December 1915, was in charge of the last party to evacuate the shores of Gallipoli, nor that he was a hero. But in 1955, based on fresh evidence presented to him, Charles Bean, official Australian WWI historian, changed his opinion about the last person to leave from Captain Stanley Watson to Captain Charles Littler (the beach captain), not Colonel Paton.

The Merewether RSL sub-branch is proud to have the connection with Brig-Gen Paton, whose name is embossed on the Mitchell Park Memorial Gates.

Geoff Rich, Merewether RSL Sub-Branch

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