Updated: Jun 29
Recently at Broken Head, near Byron Bay on the north-east coast of NSW, the little wooden church of St Oswalds held its final service. It was a sombre experience. No less for the fact the church had been established starting with a bequest from Arthur Beaumont Goard, a soldier killed in World War One.
The bequest from his will of 50 pounds was the start of a community effort to build the small church. It was eventually dedicated in 1922 to Goard and two other soldiers who lost their lives in the same war: Jacob Frederick Flick and Frank Kimpton.
Born in Murrurundi, NSW in 1888 to school principal William Samuel and his wife Selina, Arthur signed up in 1916. He had studied agriculture at Hawkesbury College and after graduating, obtained land near Byron Bay and took up dairy and pig farming. His boyish looks and easy-going nature afforded him many friends in his farming and church community.
Arthur Beaumont Goard. Courtesy Australian War Memorial.
Assigned to 2nd Battalion, 22nd Reinforcements he embarked on the SS PT Nicholson from Sydney in November 1916 and arrived in Devonport two months later. He qualified first class when he completed the 8th Rifle Course held at the School of Musketry, Tidworth and had a good working knowledge of a Lewis gun, a light machine gun used prolifically through World War One.
From England, Goard and his unit went to France. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in July of 1917, but it was only a few months later he was killed in action at Passchendaele in Ypres, Belgium. The family was devastated.
A fellow soldier stated Goard was killed by a shell-burst in the jumping-off trench, and was to have gone for a commission after the attack. He was buried at Aeroplane Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.
The service sheet to the final meeting at St Oswalds Church, Broken Head. Photo from Ben Franklin's Facebook page.
The story doesn't end there though, as when his will was read, it was found he had left large portions of money for his siblings and the farm, including stock and plant, to his parents. Arthur also included "50 pounds to the Trustees of the Church of England Broken Head, Byron Bay, such sum to be expended in the erection of a Church of England at Broken Head, Byron Bay".
The land the church is built on is one acre and was also donated by Mr Goard. His family donated the lectern and altar and Mr and Mrs Flick, parents of Frederick, donated the baptismal font. The name St Oswald came from the first English king to be canonised.
Memorial plaque at St Oswalds, Broken Bay in memory of Arthur Beaumont Goard.Photo from Ben Franklin's Facebook page.
'The Churches: Anglican', Daily Examiner, Friday 9 November, 1917, Page 1
Byron Bay Community Board, Facebook, accessed 20th June 2021, Byron Bay Community Board : Save "St Oswald's" Broken Head - built by the community as a memorial to 3 local soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. | Facebook
'Arthur Beaumont Goard', National Archives Australia, accessed 20th June, 2021, recordsearch.naa.gov.au
'Lewis Gun', Wikipedia, accessed June 20th, 2021, Lewis gun - Wikipedia
'Goard - Arthur Beaumont', Western Sydney University, accessed 20th June, 2021, GOARD,_Arthur_Beaumont.PDF (westernsydney.edu.au)
'St Oswalds - Broken Head Memorial Church', The Byron Bay Record, Saturday 12 November, 1921, Page 5.