ALMOST a century after this flag was taken as a treasured keepsake from the bloody battlefield of Gallipoli, it will play a central role at today’s Anzac Day memorial service at Adamstown.
Still smeared with the mud and dirt of the Gallipoli battlefield, and signed by the soldier who took it from those fateful shores, the flag is the subject of a mysterious story that traces it from Anzac Cove, to Scotland and then to Adamstown.
‘‘It’s the mystery that makes it all that more enticing,’’ Adamstown RSL sub-branch secretary Doug Wallace said.
The red ensign was flown by Australian soldiers at war and in Anzac marches until the current design specifications were formally recognised in 1954.
Mr Wallace said the company flag was carried by an Adamstown soldier until he was mortally wounded at Gallipoli and given to his mate, Private Gordon MacDonald, also of Adamstown.
Private MacDonald survived the horrors of Gallipoli and, after signing the flag in ink, gave it to a Scottish girl known only as Margaret for safe keeping while on leave before he was shipped to the Western Front.
Killed on the Western Front, Private MacDonald never returned to claim his flag but the ensign did make its way to Australia when Margaret emigrated after the war.
In old age, Margaret contacted the president of the Adamstown RSL and gave the flag to the club in 1993.
It was stowed in a tea chest for almost 17 years before it was discovered by Mr Wallace.
‘‘It looks like people had just forgotten about it,’’ Mr Wallace said.
The naval veteran who served in Vietnam and Northern Borneo said the flag represented the hopes, dreams and motivations of not only the two soldiers who shared it but all those who fought for their country.
‘‘It is irreplaceable and it reminds you of your own service,’’ Mr Wallace said.
‘‘When you look at a flag you remember who you are, where you come from and what you stand for.’’
Mr Wallace said that after taking centre stage in today’s service the flag would take pride of place in the The Adamstown Club.
‘‘It needs to be on display somewhere not hidden away,’’ he said.