First Australian to die overseas at war honoured in hometown, Kiama

The descendants of a Kiama man who was the first Australian to die at war arranged a fitting tribute to his sacrifice.

Dozens gathered at Kiama Cemetery to unveil a new monument and plaque in honour of Robert Weir on Saturday morning.

Mr Weir died aboard a hospital ship, while serving in Sudan on May 1, 1885.

Kiama MP Gareth Ward, Mayor Mark Honey and the fallen soldier’s family paid tribute in a service involving mounted troops, wreath-laying, prayers and the Last Post.

Descendent David Potts went to great lengths to restore the monument.

“I tripped across this mouldy, old, degraded sandstone monument, it meant nothing to anyone,” he said.

“It was in such poor condition, you couldn’t read it.

“(Replacing) it was important, the plaque fills in the gaps for anyone walking through.”

The new monument was carved by a local tradesman out of sandstone from a Kiama-based farm.

The Weir family, Kiama and Jamberoo RSL club and NSW Veterans Affairs department worked to secure funding for the memorial.

“History’s important to people in our area,” Mr Ward said.

“It’s really quite a tragic story, and quite important to remember the first life lost in battle.”

Mr Weir was known to fellow comrades as a quiet, honest young man.

He was buried in Sudan, but his memory will be forever honoured in his home town.

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