Lieutenant Roderick William Urquhart
March 1886 – August 1916
The Hexham Polo Club has a rich history and from 2014 - 2018 we will be remembering our former players who bravely enlisted in WWI, 100 years ago. Some of these ANZACs fought in Gallipoli and the Middle East, others in Belgium or France’s trenches.
When war was declared in 1914, the Hexham Polo Club was made up largely of Western District graziers. Highly skilled horsemen, marksmen, mechanics and jacks-of-all-trades as farmers often tend to be. However not all these men were permitted to enlist. Some had had injuries preventing active service while others were retained at their farms to safeguard Australia’s war time food supply. The Hexham Polo Club was placed into a recess for the duration of the war.
No greater was the WWI sacrifice of Hexham Polo Club brothers from ‘Boonerah’ Hexham - Roderick William Urquhart and Arthur Keith Urquhart - who served in the 8th Light Horse Regiment and miraculously they survived The Nek and were evacuated from Gallipoli. Roderick was transferred to a desert fighting unit at Romani - East of the Suez Canal - and died in action. His younger brother Keith went on to achieve Flight Officer status in the Australian Flying Corps and flew for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. Although Keith returned safely home, he had tragically lost both his brother and father during war time with his father Rod Snr. passing away at home in 1917. The Urquhart family later donated the Urquhart Cup to the Hexham Polo Club in memory of Roddy. The Urquhart Cup remains our most highly sought after trophy today.
Roderick William Urquhart was buried in 1916 where he fell in the sands of Palestine.
Other Hexham players who joined the ANZACs include* W. R. Cumming (Ronald) who became a Captain in the 39th Battalion was awarded Belgium's Croix. He survived being shot in the chest in combat. R.G. Chirnside (Gordon) became a Captain in the 1st Battalion. He survived the Gallipoli Campaign and later received an OBE and the French Legion of Honour for bravery in combat at Pozieres Ridge. A. M Calvert (Alan) aged 33 signed up and served in the 2nd Motor Transport Company as a driver on the Western Front in France. J. A. D. Affleck (James) served as a Gunner in the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade.
By 1922 our returned soldiers were joined by members of the Affleck, Armstrong, Calvert, De Little, Hood, Kelly, Manifold, Mann, Palmer, Weatherly and other prominent Victorian families to resume polo in the state’s West.
Together, these families shaped the interwar renaissance of the Hexham Polo Club and guaranteed its success long into the future.
Lest we forget
Written by Steve Sprague, President - Hexham Polo Club, for the ANZAC Centenary 2015.
*We continue to research the war service files of our members. If you are able to assist us in maintaining the accuracy of this list or would like to share family anecdotes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org