The Hay Memorial High School, built in 1923 and the first of its kind in Australia, has a motto: ‘Pro Tanto Quid Retribuemus’, which translates as ‘What will we give in return for so much sacrifice?'. These words were a continual reminder of ‘the sacrifice made by district residents, of all classes, during the Great War’.
Men such as Lieutenant Roy Matthews – whose uniform jacket, cap and other personal items, form part of the school museum collection – set fine examples for students. Enlisted as a private, Matthew showed initiative, leadership and courage and rose to the rank of lieutenant in the 5th Australian Field Artillery Brigade. Twice wounded, he returned to the front and was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Hargicourt, west of Bellicourt, on the night 26–27 September 1918. He was in charge of the ammunition supply to a forward battery position and maintained ‘cool courage and control’ to ensure the ammunition was safely delivered, despite a heavy enemy barrage resulting in heavy casualties to drivers and horses.
His brother Captain Rupert Matthews of the 4th Battalion was also awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Pozières, despite being wounded in the face.
For selfless courage under heavy fire, local boy Private William Jackson of the 17th Battalion, from Gunbar Station, was the youngest Australian ever awarded the Victoria Cross. During a raid in June 1916 near Armentières, France, he brought in a captured prisoner and returned to assist several wounded members of his party. While bringing in a wounded man, he and Sergeant Camden were hit by a shell. Jackson’s arm was badly injured, but after receiving medical attention he returned to no-man’s-land to help bring in the sergeant and the wounded man. His arm was amputated and he was invalided home in September 1917.
In 1920 a fund was inaugurated to build a community high school. Publicity at the time spoke of the school as being ‘lasting, effective and useful’, and ‘the best school in the state, worthy of the local men who had given so much during the war’. A 25-acre site was donated and locals raised £6000 to secure the Education Department’s subsidy on £-for-£ basis. Fundraising events were held throughout the district in Leeton, Hillston, Booligal, Savernake and Gobbagaula, to name a few.
The school opened to much acclaim on Anzac Day 1923.
‘Hay District War Memorial High School’, Hillston Spectator & Lachlan Advertiser, 27 August 1920: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/131052450
‘The Hay War Memorial High School: Unexcelled as a War Memorial in the Commonwealth’, The Riverine Grazier, 27 April 1923: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/140126959
Service Record for Lieutenant Roy Sydney Tyson Matthews MC: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=8030272
Honours and Awards – Roy Sydney Tyson Matthews: http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1068297--19-.PDF
Service Record for Captain Rupert Mackay Tyson Matthews MC
Honours and Awards – Rupert Mackay Tyson Matthews: http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1068580--22-.PDF
Service Record for Private John William Alexander Jackson VC 588: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=8334263
Honours and Awards – Private John William Alexander Jackson VC: http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1068536--7-.PDF
Hay War Memorial High School
Hay NSW 2711
Phone: 02 6993 1408
Film and sound
Videos related to Hay and WWI: http://www.haywarmem-h.schools.nsw.edu.au/museum