Anzac Chaplains

WORLD War I army chaplains John Fahey DSO and Walter Dexter DCM were honoured with a service to all armed forces� padres at a RSL sunset Anzac Centenary service attended by about 400 at King Park last night..

�My great-uncle Father Fahey was one of two chaplains who ignored instructions and who landed with the first troops at Gallipoli,� great-nephew Phil Ryan said.

Irish-born Father Fahey was the Catholic chaplain to WA�s 11th Battalion, and at Gallipoli he tended all faiths, the dying and dead, often at the frontline where he captured a Turkish rifle, before being mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry under fire.

He became the longest serving front-line Australian chaplain on the Western Front until November 1917.

�He spoke of the simple faith of the average Australian soldier saying �I�ve done my best�, as they went to their deaths,� Mr Ryan said

After the war, Father Fahey was the priest at Cottesloe�s Star of the Sea Church until 1959 when about 2000 people were at his funeral.

English-born Walter Dexter DSO was a mounted veteran of the Boer War and a former sea captain who was the chief chaplain of 1st Division AIF, and was one of the last to leave the Gallipoli Peninsula after the eight-month conflict, when he walked through cemeteries scattering silver wattle seed.

�He wrote, �If we have to leave here I intend that a bit of Australia shall be here. I soaked the seed for about 20 hours and they seem to be well and thriving.� WA grandson James Dexter said.

On the Western Front, Chaplain Dexter organised films and music for troops, and was awarded the military cross for tending the wounded at Ypres , France.

He died in Victoria in 1950, after returning to the church when his soldier-settler farming venture near Geelong had failed.

N Services continue at the State War Memorial, Kings Park, 5pm until Friday.