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Christopher Gage's headstone, New Irish Farm British Cemetery, Belgium. Image courtesy Sharon Hesse.

Christopher Gage’s headstone, New Irish Farm British Cemetery, Belgium.
Image courtesy Sharon Hesse.

Christopher Henry Gage and his brother Charles Alfred Gage were born in Eugowra to Christopher Henry Gage (Snr) and his wife Mary (nee Sloane). They were two of nine known Aboriginal servicemen from the Orange area, and they were both killed in action.

Christopher was living in Orange with his wife Violet and their two young sons, when he enlisted in April 1916. He spent two weeks at camp in Dubbo, before joining the 54th Battalion at Bathurst. Gage embarked from Sydney in August 1916, and arrived in England in October. He proceeded to France in December 1916, less than two weeks after his younger brother Charles was killed there.

In April 1917 Christopher was promoted to Lance Corporal. On the night of 24 September Gage’s unit was moved into the front line trenches at Polygon Wood near Ypres, where they remained until the morning of 26 September, awaiting their orders. They came under fierce attack at 5.45 am, and shelling continued all day. The following morning Gage and four of his comrades were found, having been struck by a shell that killed them all instantaneously. Lance Corporal Gage was one of three men from the Orange district to be killed in the Battle of Polygon Wood.

Lieutenant JAS Mitchell wrote a letter of condolence to Gage’s widow, Violet, describing him as “a very popular man” who “died a game death”.

Violet and her sons, Noel and Walter posted the following poem in Christopher’s death notice in The Leader:

Killed in action, the cable said,
That is all the tale they tell
Of the soldier brave who loved us,
Of the one we loved so well.
How his life was spent, we know not,
What the last word, look or thought,
Only that he did his duty,
Died as bravely as he fought.

Lance Corporal Gage’s name appears on the Patrician Brothers’ Roll of Honour, the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll and on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte CH Gage”; it was donated by JH Hamilton. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Leader, 28 December 1917, p. 6.
The Late Corporal Gage