South Solitary Island Lighthouse – Keepers at Gallipoli

In the pages of the South Solitary Island Visitor log book are two very important and separate entries – one dated 10 July 1914 and the other on the 23 September 1914. Both entries having been made as Lightkeepers left the Island to join the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the 1914-1918 War. One keeper was born in Glasgow and the other in London – both had served in the British Navy, and both had served as Signallers.

South Solitary Island Lighthouse Visitor log book – 1880-1933, National Archives of Australia, C748 [1]
By circumstances or fate, or both, they would find themselves on the battlefields of Gallipoli at the same time and both would sadly make the ultimate sacrifice. If not on the same day, then within days of each other. One was Scottish, the other English and both fighting with Australian forces.

We can rightly look to their courage and sacrifice as part of the foundation of the ANZAC spirit borne out of that conflict.

No. 65, Private James Logan 1st Battalion, First Infantry Brigade.

His military record shows he was born James Glendinning Aiken Logan on the 26 Sep 1878 in Govan, Glasgow, Scotland, was single and had served 15 years with the Royal Navy in Signals. He enlisted at Randwick, Sydney on 31 August 1914. He was transferred to the 1st Battalion HQ – Signallers on 2 January 1915.

He had nominated his sister’s daughter, Miss Daisy Logan Gordon, Montreal Canada to receive his personal effects. He also had a brother No. 1916 Sergeant A. S. Logan, Engineers Depot, Moore Park who had made enquiries regarding James.

Along with the Battalion and Australian Infantry Force, James was shipped to Alexandria, Egypt and then on to the Dardanelles.

E. Company, 1st Australian Expeditionary Force, October 18, 1914 … [S.S. Afric, A19], https://collection.sl.nsw.gov.au/record/16A7G2Dn
Records show James was killed in action between the 1st and 4th May 1915. 

James’ brother advised the Defence Department that their mother Mrs Jane Logan was still alive and living in Glasgow and would be pleased to receive any service medals etc.  to which he believed she was duly entitled.

On July 10, 1914 – James Logan – wrote in the Visitor log book

Just finished 5 months duty Relieving Officer, & during my stay, made very pleasant by all it proves the old saying “The best of friends must part.” So goodbye to all For Auld lang synes sake

A further notation in the Visitor log book indicated he had

Left Sydney – first Expeditionary Force and then sadly  James Logan Relieving officer  Killed Gallipoli April 28th 1915

No. 956, Private Walter J. Lowen, 13th Battalion.

On September 23, 1914 an entry made in the Visitor log book reads

Walter Lowen  2nd Assistant Solitary Island

Left for Sydney expecting to go to the front

Lowen enlisted at Rosehill Camp Sydney on 28 August 1914 and was taken in as a Signaller. His military record shows he was born in London, was 25 years old, was single and had served 5 years with the imperial Navy. He had nominated his mother Mrs Elizabeth Lowen of London as next of kin.

He embarked the HMAT A38 “ULYSSES” in Melbourne on the 22 December 1914 headed for Egypt.  Then deployed to the Dardanelles and Gallipoli. This now coincident with James Logan’s deployment.

Records show Walter was killed in action at Gallipoli on the 4th May 1915.

Having noted the death of a Private W. Lowen 13th Battalion in the casualty lists, a letter in the name of the Sydney-based Superintendent of Navigation was despatched to the Defence Department seeking clarification as to whether this was the same Walter J. Lowen 2nd Assistant Keeper Solitary Island Lighthouse, an officer of the department. This was subsequently and regrettably confirmed.

EXTENSION OF PROBATIONARY APPOINTMENT. (1915, January 13). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 – 2001), p. 257. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article227053458

A further notation in the Visitor log book tells us he had been

Killed in action at Gallipoli – per C J G

where C J G was the then Principal Keeper – Christopher J Gardner.

Both Logan and Lowen are named on the Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing.

References

[1] South Solitary Island Lighthouse Visitor log book – 1880-1933, National Archives of Australia, C748 P1, https://bit.ly/3v0n5Iu

[2] James Logan, National Archives of Australia, B2455

[3] Walter Lowen, National Archives of Australia file, B2455

Acknowledgement

Researched and prepared by Brian Roy Crossingham

20/04/2022

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