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Lt. Colonel Percy Treasure

Lt Colonel Percy Treasure, VD

The Last Commanding Officer of the 6th Light Horse Regiment

 

     Percy Henry Treasure was the seventh child born to Lewis and Clara Belinda on Christmas Day, 1893 at "Wanstrow", Holmwood. He attended the Holmwood School when it was situated near the Bourke Homestead and later when it was moved to its present site near the Railway Station.
   Perc finished his schooling at the age of 14 in 1907 to assist his father and older brother, Ern, with the farming on "Wanstrow" and became Lewis's right hand man when Ern left for Queensland to cut railway sleepers for the Government in 1909.
   Perc's father died on December 26, 1911 and, with Ern in Queensland and his older sisters now married, he was to become his mother's mainstay running the farm. By August 1913, then aged 19 and already an expert horseman and having acquired a beautiful waler remount which he called Queenie, Perc decided to join the local troop of the 6th Light Horse.
Percy Treasure - 1

   The Cowra Troop was then led by Lieutenant Wordsworth and other members known to Perc at that time included Jack Keys, E. Poignand, W. J. Simeon and Boer War Veteran, Jock Davidson. He quickly became competent as a cavalryman and never missed a Parade, riding Queenie the 10 miles to Cowra for every training session.
   At that time, Jim Innes, a migrant from Aberdeen, Scotland was working for Clara Belinda on "Wanstrow" and had become a great friend of Perc's, who naturally persuaded him to also join the local Light Horse.
England declared war on Germany on August 5, 1914 and, on the 11th day of that month, a very significant event took place, when the Red Cross had its beginning in Australia, when a Branch was formed under the Presidency of Lady Munro-Ferguson, the wife of the Governor General.
   Prime Minister, Joseph Cook, immediately pledged an expeditionary force of 20,000 men to Britain. The ranks of Australia's new Expeditionary Army, named the Australian Imperial Force and commanded by General William Bridges, was filled by August 20, ten days after recruiting began. Volunteers had come from every walk of life, leaving their farms, businesses and in many cases, schooling, to "join up".
   When a call was made for volunteers in August 1914, Perc immediately rode into Cowra to enlist in the AIF. Jim Innes also joined up but was persuaded by Clara Belinda to stay at "Wanstrow" for the coming harvest. Perc, with Army No 443, was accepted on August 22, 1914 and, together with 18 other Cowra men, including Jack Keys, E. Poignand, W. J. Simeon and Jock Davidson, were posted to the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 1st Brigade. Perc, with Queenie, his 18 companions and their horses, left Australia in October 1914 on board the 'Star of Victoria". He celebrated his 21st birthday in Egypt where he was to serve in the 1st Light Horse Regiment, 1st Brigade under Brigadier Cox.
   On May 12, 1915, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades, led by General Harry Chauvel, were told to leave their horses behind in Egypt and were sent as foot soldiers to the Gallipoli Peninsula. They were led to Shrapnel Valley, which took in Courtney's Post, Quinn's post and Pope's Hill. Perc's Regiment took over Popes Hill.

Percy Treasure - 2

   The Light Horse Brigades were to suffer very heavy losses in the battles in the next few weeks and Perc was wounded and evacuated to Cairo in the latter part of May. However, he must have made a quick recovery as he was returned to Gallipoli on July 25 and took part in the Battles of Pope's Hill on August 7 and Lone Pine in September.
   Gallipoli was evacuated on December 20, in what was probably the best timed and well executed withdrawal of all time - not one wounded man was left behind. Australia suffered the loss of 7,600 men, with much the same number wounded, since the landing on April 15. One of the casualties was the Commander, Major General Bridges. The 1st Light Horse Regiment returned to Egypt and their horses.
The main task of the Light Horse, now known as "The Desert Column", was to protect the Suez Canal, which the Germans, at this stage, considered the key point of the War's success. Most Light Horse travelling was done at night, the horses being able to move much better and with less water to sustain them under desert conditions. Most Officers and NCO's became expert at guiding men by the stars. Control of the watering places were the priorities of General Chauvel and Perc was to take part in the Battle for the Romani Oasis in the early part of 1916, where he was apparently again slightly wounded and evacuated to hospital for a short time. However, he was back with his Unit in March 1917, when the 1st Light Horse took part in the first Battle of Gaza, and then the attack on Beersheba.
   The fight for the water wells at Tel el Khuweilfe was an epic of endurance for the 1st Light Horse, where Perc was again wounded, this time with a shot through the groin and was left in No Man's Land for 2 days, until being accidentally found by Cowra man, Sep Flint, a driver with the 1st Ambulance who, with his donkey cart, was himself lost at that time.

Percy Treasure - full

Back Row: Lts A Guillan, K. Robinson, J. Bredin, T. Sanderson, J. Cameron, J. Elliott, K. Kearney, W. Ervin, M. Wheatley, G. Elliott, J. Mclean.
Centre: Lts A Clarke, M. Commons, B. Maguire, K. Oliver, Capt. Kierath, Lts R. Field, R. Rutherford, J. Loughlin, J. Squire, J Taylor.
Front: (Dentist) Capt Fitzharding, P. Millar, Major May, Major Neville, Lt Col Treasure (O.C.), Major Oliver, Major Mckellar, Capt Miller, Lt J. Riding, C. Freebairn.


   The epic rescue by Driver Flint is now documented in memorabilia in the foyer of the Cowra Shire Council Chambers. Sep found him lying nearly dead in a trench. Lifting his patient onto the cart, Driver Flint tried to return to the Australian lines but enemy fire killed the donkey. With great presence of mind and courage, Sep got Perc behind the dead animal, waited several hours under fire, until darkness allowed him to drag his patient to safety.
For his dedication to duty and extreme courage, Driver Flint was awarded the Military Medal.
     Percy survived his injuries, the reason given later was that, at the time of being shot, he had been suffering from dysentery, his intestines therefore were deflated and had not been pierced by the bullet..
The fight for the water well at Tel el Khuweilfe by the 1st Light Horse was finally won, and the Desert Column, led by the 4th and 12th Light Horse, and supported by the British Yeomanry, attacked Beersheba, then the stronghold of the German and Turkish front in Palestine.
     The Light Horse Brigade charges on Beersheba led by General Harry Chauvel on Thursday, November 1, 1917 has been described as the most epic Light Horse frontal attack ever made. However, their casualties were remarkably light, some 31 Australian's killed and 36 wounded.
Apart from the capture of the Palestinian town and the surrender of a large number of German and Turkish officers, the assault force gained some 400,000 gallons of water.
     The 1st Light Horse were involved in a series of shattering offences against the strongholds in the Middle East in 1918 beginning with the capture of Jericho in February and then in September the Battles of Sharon, Samaria and Anman. Finally the attack on Damascus, led by General Chauvel and commenced with an air raid by Australian Ace, Ross Smith, brought about the surrender of the Turkish Army, which signed an Armistice with the Allies on October 31, 1918.
     Despite being wounded 3 times, suffering a degree of deafness no doubt caused by gunfire and a serious bout of malaria, at the end of 1918, Perc survived the Great War, as did his mount, Queenie. However at the end he and his fellow Light Horsemen had to face the tragedy of leaving their well loved horses behind when they were shipped back home.
     There was a big party held in the "Wanstrow" woolshed the night Perc returned. The woolshed was decorated with balloons and gum leaves and lit with lanterns.
Jim Innes also survived the War and, after spending a short time with his parents in Aberdeen, Scotland, returned to Australia, drawing a Soldiers Settler Block at Millthorpe, NSW. In 1920, he married Jessie, daughter of Woodstock Storekeeper, Jack Mudge and, like Perc, joined the local Light Horse Troop, of which he became Troop Leader in 1926. Jim Innes entered Local Government in 1928 and remained involved in that field for most of his life.
     Perc, with his younger brothers, Jim and Bert, remained on "Wanstrow" until 1921, when they dissolved their partnership, selling the property to neighbour, William Wright.
After the farm was sold, Perc bought a Butcher Shop in Cowra which he ran until the outbreak of the Second World War. He continued his involvement in the local 6th Light Horse Regiment, eventually becoming its Commander.
     On moving to Cowra at the beginning of 1922, Perc became involved in most Cowra organisations, including the Masonic Lodge, RSL, Cowra Show Society, Cowra Jockey Club, Hospital Board, Bowling Club and, in 1924, was elected to the Town Council.
     In 1926, Perc and wife Doreen, who had no children of their own, became actively associated with the Scouting Movement and, as Scoutmasters, they were to become surrogate parents to the whole troop. Perc was Scoutmaster until the outbreak of the Second World War.
A good organiser of people, he quickly became a popular Scoutmaster and, with late night shopping the vogue, P H Treasure's Butcher Shop was the mecca of the local boys. Having a special knack with children, he spent time camping out bivouacs and accompanying his boys on many annual camps and some trips to Sydney and Melbourne.
     A special highlight for the 1st Cowra Scout Troop was a visit by the Governor of NSW and Chief Scout, Sir Philip Game to Cowra in September 1930 to open the Cowra Show, where the Troop formed a Guard of Honour for his arrival at the Showground. One of the juniors noticed that the Governor was not wearing his Scout badge and brightly informed his Section Leader, Harry Brien, who conferred with the Scoutmaster. After informing Sir Philip of his intentions, the Scout leader formed a "Court of Honour", consisting of two senior scouts, Harry Brien and Charles Matheson, with the most junior, Bob Greugeon in the centre to confront His Excellency and proceed to fine the Governor the traditional sixpence.
Sir Philip paid the fine on the spot and later had it mounted as a trophy for annual athletic competition between the district scouting troops. The Governor's Sixpence became an eagerly contested annual event in the Cowra district for many years.
     Perc, a life member of the Cowra RSL, was President for the years 1936 to 1939. In the 1920's and 1930's, readers of the local newspaper would look forward to the reported happenings of the local Branch. Such vigorous debaters as Jock Davidson, Edgar Moseley, Ernie Dawson, Eric Steel, Harold Holman, Dick Bryant and others made very interesting reading.
     Perc, a member of the Masonic fraternity for over 65 years was Master of the Cowra Lachlan Lodge in 1933-34. He was a member of the Cowra Show Society between the two Wars, being ringmaster and race caller for a number of years. He and Doreen were champion show riders on their pair of beautiful deep chestnut show hacks, Digger and Victory, and performed at many district shows in the 1920Õs and 1930's.
     The Bowling Club at Cowra was established in the early 1920's and Perc was one of its first members, being on the Committee when the front green (now considered one of the best bowling greens in the State) was established in 1924. Also the first Clubhouse was built by H H S Francis in that year.
     Perc was to have a life interest in bowls, becoming Singles Champion in 1936 and in the winning Fours, Triples and Pairs for a number of years. He was President in 1937 and 1938, resigning when the 6th Light Horse was demobilised in 1940.
After the end of the Second World War, Perc and Doreen established a Jeweller's Shop in Fairfield and in 1952 retired to Balgowlah, where Perc became President of the North Manly Bowling Club and skipped the winning Fours in 1959 and 1960 and was a member of the winning Fours and Pairs in 1964 and 1965 and the Tournament of Champions in 1965.
     Despite his many interests, the Light Horse remained Perc Treasure's great love.
     He organised and led the procession down Kendal Street during the district's "Back to Cowra Week" in 1926 and arranged Light Horse displays of military drill, tent pegging, flag and rescue races and other events at every Cowra Show until 1939. He led and organised the procession for the Bi-Centenary celebrations in Cowra in 1938.
     With the absence of Colonel Harry James from Newcastle, who was originally in charge, Perc with his chestnut mount, Digger, (actually owned by the 6th Light Horse Sergeant Major, Gordon Chapman) led the Light Horse Contingent to Sydney in 1938 for the NSW Bi-Centenary celebrations.
      The Light Horse billeted at Randwick Racecourse and, during their stay, rode to Cronulla for the making of the first part of the epic film produced by Charles Chauvel of the "Forty Thousand Horsemen". The setting for the desert scenes were enacted on Wanda Beach, with suitable hidden trip wires on the sand for effect. The second part of the film was enacted at Orange, NSW during the 1939 Camp, with the surrounding countryside for the segment portraying the hills around Beersheba.
     On the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the 6th Light Horse was mobilised and sent first to a camp in Orange, then, in the early part of 1940, the whole Brigade, which included the 7th and 21st Light Horse, to a Brigade camp at Wallgrove, Sydney.
Perc Treasure and other leaders tried valiantly to have the whole unit accepted intact as an AIF Brigade, however, without success.
     On March 28, 1941, the 6th Light Horse went with their horses for a two month Brigade camp at Wallgrove. At the end of that camp, horses became obsolete in this war and they were taken back to their properties for the last time.
     In October 1941, the Regiment assembled at Cowra, where it became the 6th Australian Motor Regiment, with most of its Officers and NCO's, including its Commanding Officer, doing an Armoured Training Course mainly at Puckapunyal, Seymour and Singleton. The Japs having entered the War in December, the Regiment headed for Jervis Bay (to protect the South Coast) on active service. In 1942 - left Nowra and headed to Kempsey and Boonoo Boonoo. Intensive training in jungle warfare at Wauchope, spending some time there, the Regiment then headed for Narellan where it spent 3 weeks over Christmas. It then went to Drysdale in Victoria where the Regiment was disbanded and all members joined other Units around Australia and New Guinea, with the Commanding Officer, Colonel Perc Treasure, now 51 years of age, finishing his Army career as a Staff Officer at Puckapunyal.

Regimental number443
ReligionMethodist
OccupationLabourer
AddressHolmwood, near Cowra, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Next of kinMother, Mrs C. Treasure, Cowra, New South Wales
Enlistment date22 August 1914
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Light Horse Regiment, C Squadron
AWM Embarkation Roll number10/6/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A16 Star of Victoria on 20 October 1914
Rank from Nominal RollSergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Light Horse Regiment
 Returned to Australia 15 November 1918

 

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