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Wentworth Courier

Honours for flag creators

Honours for flag creators - Gallipoli Star

Wentworth Courier
Wednesday April 14th, 1999
page 12.

By James Wilkinson

George Poulos and Joe Bollen* have been presented with the Gallipoli Star medal for their efforts in creat­ing and designing the Bondi Beach flag.

The first two non-war veterans to be presented the medal, Mr Poulos and Mr Bollen have joined an elite group.

Mr Poulos, a Dover Heights resident, said:
‘The Bondi Beach flag was always considered to be a Gallipoli flag.”
When designing the flag, Mr Poulos con­sidered a number of things to represent Gallipoli. These in­cluded the rising sun of the Anzacs; eight-pointed Gallipoli stars; the beach; and the blood on the beach.

The medals were presented by Vietnam veteran Ross Smith, who in 1989 re­created the medals and gave them to 200 Anzacs.
The medals are based on those originally made for the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in 1916. However, the British government did not formally ap­prove them at the time and they were melted down.

Mr Poulos said: “What the medals mean is that Australia was born in Gallipoli and it is the womb of the nation. We were born from a blood sacrifice in 1915. I want Australians to understand their birth place and the rising sun. Let’s be proud of it.”

Last year, Mr Pou­los’s Bondi Beach flag was adopted by Waverley Council after many years spent on the design of the flag.

They were flying high on the Campbell Parade flagpoles for six months last year.

Mr Poulos said:
"We have the greatest beach in the world and having a flag for it is a way of showing it. It gives the commu­nity a sense of identity and a sense of belong­ing".

A Gallipoli Star Medal was also awarded to the flag. That medal is being presented to Waverley Council on Tuesday, April 27.

*Joe Bollen is the designer of the City of Sydney Sesqui-centenary flag.
Joe aided in the design of the Bondi Beach flag.
In 2000 he was appointed Flag Manager of the Sydney Olympic.
He is a long-standing believer in the fact that the Rising Sun is the prime symbol of Australia.

The Gallipoli Star

The Star That ….Almost …..Never Shone

The Gallipoli Star had its genesis in a proposal by Lt Gen Birdwood GOC 1 ANZAC in October 1917, that members of the AIF and NZEF, who had departed their homelands before 31 Dec 1914, be awarded the “1914 Star”. After their first engagement, the momentous battle at – Gallipoli – this proposal was converted to a medal recognising service at Gallipoli.

In a cablegram from the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, received by the Colonial Office on the 11th May, 1918, the GG stated clearly that the “…Commonwealth Government considers Gallipoli star should be issued only to officers and men who landed actually on Gallipoli.”

His Majesty the King, approved of the design for the Gallipoli Star medal and ribbon to be awarded, in his own words, to “..all Dominion officers and soldiers of the Aust, NZ, and Newfoundland military forces who actually served with an Expeditionary Force provided that they landed on the Gallipoli peninsula prior to the evacuation thereof.”

The star and the ribbon were designed by Warrant Officer, R. K. Peacock of the Defence Department.

The Gallipoli Star consists of an eight pointed star in bronze and on the face of the star is a silver circle with a crown in the centre surrounded by the words “Gallipoli 1914-15”, a point of the star representing each of the six States of the Commonwealth, the Territories and New Zealand.

Historians indicate the significance of having both 1914 and 1915 on the medal is the the ANZACs sailed for Gallipoli in December, 1914, landing on 25 April, 1915 and the campaign concluded in December, 1915.

The symbolic ribbon consists of an outer edge of gold and red representing the silvery sheen of the fern and the flower of the Rata of New Zealand, separated by a central strip of blue representing the sea which the troops depended on. Australian War Memorial Accession tag No. 6327 confirms that thousands of metres of ribbon were woven, and were actually ready for issue.

Serious difficulties arose after the announcement of the award of the medal had been made, owing to the strong objection being taken by some British Members of Parliament and the press in England because the GALLIPOLI STAR could not be conferred on the British troops who fought on Gallipoli . It was then abandoned.

Since 1918, notably in 1949-50, and in the period 1962-66, efforts have been made in Australia, through parliamentary representation, to have the Gallipoli Star awarded. These efforts resulted in the Gallipoli Medallion, with corresponding lapel badge, being issued by the Aust. and NZ governments in 1967.

However, the Gallipoli Star did not shine again, until, Ross E. Smith, OAM of Canberra manufactured the medal and ribbon from the original design in order to commemorate the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Landing of the ANZACs on Gallipoli, 25 April, 1915-90.

Ross Smith was born and educated in Dalby, Queensland, attending the Dalby State School and the Dalby State High School. He enlisted in the Army in 1963 and after recruit training was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He served with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment in Australia and Papua New Guinea and with the 6th Battalion on operational service in South Vietnam during 1966 and 1967.

He transferred to the Australian Army Aviation Corps in 1979 and held the appointments of Squadron Sergeant Major and Regimental Sergeant Major with the 1st Aviation Regiment and Australian Army Aviation Corps Regimental Sergeant Major with the Directorate of Aviation (Army). In December, 1986, he assumed duty as the Sergeant Major Ceremonial with the Directorate of Personnel Support (Army).

Mr Smith was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queens Honours List 1984 for his services as Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Aviation Regiment, and in 1988, he was also awarded the Chief of the General Staff’s Commendation for meritorious service as Sergeant Major Ceremonial of the Australian Army.

By Ross Smith’s initiative, one thousand Gallipoli Medals were produced and of these, two hundred were awarded as a personal gift by Mr Smith to the remaining veterans, at the time, of the Gallipoli campaign (one hundred and fifty Australians and fifty New Zealanders).

The remaining medals were made available through a sole franchise agent, Suttle Medals, of Summer Hill, Sydney.

It should be noted that, regrettably, the Gallipoli Star remains a private award, without official standing.

Commemorating as it does, the birthplace of the Australian nation, it should be Australia’s highest military award.

Gallipoli’s distance from both Australia and New Zealand is its greatest drawback and yet it’s greatest asset. It means that few Australians and New Zealanders can visit the battlefield, yet it deepens the roots of ANZAC in our minds. An ironic paradox is that in life the ANZAC did not capture Gallipoli; yet in death they hold it immortally – LEST WE FORGET.

George Poulos. Iconographer, Vexillographer and Vexillologist.

[Written, with the aid of material supplied by Ross E Smith and the RSL Branches, Mackay, Queensland.]

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