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When the armistice of the First World War was signed on 11 November 1918 Edward O’Rourke lay in the No 2 General Hospital in Maitland, Cape Town, with suspected meningitis. He had embarked SS Zealandic in Melbourne on 5 October, but was admitted to the ship’s hospital on 21 October. The Zealandic docked in Cape Town on 6 November and Edward was transferred to hospital. Private O’Rourke’s condition improved and, on 4 December 1918, he embarked HMAT Marathon for the return trip to Australia.
Edward was born in Lake Tyers, in Gippsland, Victoria on 26 March 1892. By early 1915 “Ted” was employed as a tracker in Orange. He enlisted in Orange on 16 July 1918 and proceeded to military camp for three months’ training prior to embarkation.
Following disembarkation in Sydney in January 1919 Edward underwent a medical examination at the 4th Australian General Hospital in Randwick. The subsequent report stated that the infection had been due to Edward’s military service, and that he was now in good health. Edward was discharged from the AIF on 23 January 1919.
Edward O’Rourke was one of nine known indigenous servicemen with a connection to Orange.