MATES IN ARMS: Private Joseph John Egan, of Allansford, Vic, (left) and VX42936 Sergeant Cyril Geoffrey Boyle, of Mepunga East, Vic (right) in Palestine. Both enlisted with the 2/23rd Battalion on 29 June 1940.
MATES IN ARMS: Private Joseph John Egan, of Allansford, Vic, (left) and VX42936 Sergeant Cyril Geoffrey Boyle, of Mepunga East, Vic (right) in Palestine. Both enlisted with the 2/23rd Battalion on 29 June 1940. Australian War Memorial

Family's battle for honour ends at last

THEY had a haircut, and signed up for war.

Joseph John Egan was destined to fight for his country, but didn't know his family's battle for his honour would continue for 75 years after his death.

Kelvin Johnston who lives in Ballandean, is Mr Egan's great nephew.

He has led the fight for the family to receive their lost loved one's medals.

He said the dispute, which was only resolved several weeks ago, had chipped away at the family's faith in Australia's strong "Lest We Forget" ethos.

Mr Johnston said the resolution of the battle had brought a great sense of relief to his family.

"It means that any bitterness that we had with sending a loved one to battle... that's now passed and we can actually honour him for his service," Mr Johnston said.

While he was too young to know his great uncle, barely an adult when he left for war, Mr Johnston had heard plenty of stories about him.

Many of them were from Private Cyril Geoffrey Boyle, a Tweed Heads man who served alongside Mr Egan in battle.

"They all signed up in Warrnambool (Victoria) on a Friday night after getting a haircut," he said.

"He was a very brave man from what I can gather from talking to Pt Boyle, who was actually next to him when he was killed," Mr Johnston said.

It was May, 1941. Pt Egan was involved with Operation Brevity, on the border of Egypt and Libya.

Mr Johnston said his great uncle led the charge, while his own lieutenant resisted going to battle. ,

"It sounded absolutely horrendous," he said.

"Apparently my great uncle was hit with a shell.

"(Boyle) said he's still got shrapnel wounds in his chest."

After taking the matter to the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal in 2013, Mr Johnston said the family was "jubilant" to now have his medals, which were with his Aunty Patsy.

"It was really nice to think, finally, our family's being honoured," he said.

Stanthorpe Border Post


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