Gympie man who made war, but helped build peace
GYMPIE-born Arthur Laing was a survivor, firstly of the dangerous occupation of underground mining and then his service in both World Wars.
But he died too young, after not only making war, but helping to build the peace, forging an enduring international link between Australia and France.
He enlisted in Brisbane for active service in World War I on January 11, 1916.
His heroic contribution is recorded and preserved through the efforts of the Gympie Family History Society.
He served in France and was with his company when peace was declared, but stayed behind to help with the reconstruction effort, a task which helped Australia and New Zealand win the hearts of millions of French people, including the residents of Villers-Bretonneaux, who have turned their village into a permanent memorial to the Anzacs, including streets with Australian names and schools which display signs such as “Never forget Australia.”
His work after the war was still dangerous, as he cleared delayed action mines and helped repair roads and bridges in the area.
He returned to Brisbane Rd, Gympie and worked as a labourer, marrying Eileen Mackey on May 16, 1923.
He re-enlisted with the Army on October 18, 1939, to serve in World War II and was a corporal with the 14th Garrison Battalion.
Discharged from the Army in 1941, he died five years later in Brisbane.
He was 46.