Comments (None yet)

Add New Comment

4 corrections, most recently by aus.bailey - Show corrections


Cairns Welcome to Great Hero.    

Caleb Shang, the greatest of Cairns  

soldiers, came home on Friday night.    

He was a passenger by the Mori-   aita, which was expected to arrive   shortly after breakfast. From early   morning the town was astir in antici-   pation of meeting Shang, whose re-   cord of having twice won the Dis-   tinguished Conduct Medal, the next   highest decoration to the Victoria   Cross, as well as the Military Medal,   has not, we think, been equalled by any Queensland soldier in the field.

There was no time to arrange any   fitting public demonstration, but his comrades of the Returned Soldiers' League had been instructed by their officials to assemble in the fullest pos-  

sible strength to give him a digger's welcome on his arrival. A China boat passed the entrance to the channel, and was taken for the Morialta, but proceeded north on her way. Hours passed, and frequent telephone mes- sages were sent to the offices of the shipping company asking for news of the Morialta. It was not till late in the day that word was received that   the vessel had broken down, and  

would not be expected to arrive until  

seven o'clock in the evening.

At that hour the Morialta was seen making her way past Cape Grafton, but just as she was entering the channel, she was noticed to come to a standstill. A hasty message was sent by the Soldiers' League to the port pilot, Captain Middleton, who was ex- pecting one of his former boatmen back by the same vessel, and that gentleman readily agreed to lift Shang from the Morialta and bring him to Cairns in the pilot boat. This was apparently not necessary for the vessel got under way and made the

channel under her own steam.

At about a quarter to nine, just be- fore the moon rose over the MacDon- nell Range, the vessel slid quietly to her berth at the wharf. Half an hour

previously the wharf was deserted, save for the presence of a few fisher- men. But from mouth to mouth the word had been passed that the Mori- alta was in the channel and that

Caleb Shang would be shortly in his   home town. lt was late shopping   night. Many would-be purchasers

hurried or postponed their business,   and made for the wharf. The Cairns Citizens' Brass Band, which has al- ways been right in the front line where anything connected with active service was concerned, left its post in the principal street and made for the

wharf also.

By the time the Morialta was swinging into her berth, the wharf   was densely packed. Every coign of vantage was occupied. Almost every citizen of Cairns, from His Worship the Mayor down to infants in arms, was there. All the returned soldiers turned out, wearing their badges. Staid business men vied with youths in their endeavors to seek a spot near- est to the gangway, where they could get a close and early glance at the hero. The moon had not yet risen, and in the dim light of the wharf lamps Cairns patriots had their first view of Shang. He was standing alone on the boat deck aft, and one of the diggers on the wharf, who had fought and been wounded in the same battalion, the glorious fighting forty fifth, spotted him. "There he is," he cried, excitedly, and from then on a merry interchange of greetings was flung across the water.

When the gangway was at last low- ered, the Mayor (Alderman Gelling) climbed to the main deck, shook hands and personally welcomed Shang and led him to the head of the gangway, where he met his mo- ther and his relatives. The band, which had taken up a position further along the wharf, level with the foc's'le, struck up, "See the Conquer- ing Hero Comes." The Mayor, who had to shout his words to lift his voice above the strains of thc music, introduced Private Shang to the gathering, which must have numbered at least three thousand souls.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said   Mayor Gelling, "this is Private Shang, D.C.M. with a bar and M.M. whom we, as citizens of his town, are here to welcome (Cheers.) Cairns is proud of him. (Cheers.) You, Pri- vate Shang, have done so much for us on the battlefield, and we realise our obligation to you. We are deter- mined that our appreciation of your gallantry will be shown in no uncer- tain manner. (Loud cheers.) The decorations you have won are the   equivalent, in my mind, of the V.C. (Hear, hear, from the soldiers.) This is only an informal welcome, and an official welcome to Private Shang and Sergeant Dalziel, who won the V.C., will be given at a very early date. (Prolonged cheering.)        

The Mayor then called for three cheers for Private Shang, and they were given with a fervor that had not previously been experienced in Cairns. The assembled diggers, under the president of the League, Mr. Taylor, added a vociferous "tiger" to the salvo of cheers.

The hero made an attempt at a reply, but an untimely burst of steam from the Morialta's exhaust pipes drowned his voice. His second at- tempt was prevented by his own emo-

tion. He was holding his mother's arm, and said something which was quite undistinguishable. Seeing his confusion, the Mayor aptly remarked "Shang is a better fighter than a pub- lic speaker." His remark was drowned in a tumult of applause.

Shang then descended the gang- way, and was promptly surounded by old friends and well-wishers, whose welcome was as generous as it was spontaneous. "Good boy, digger,' "Good old Shang," were shouted at him from those who could not reach him. The ladies of the Welcome Home Club pressed around and shook his hand.

Alone on the top deck, a returned war nurse. Sister Bonnar, who hails from the Tableland, and whose bro- ther won the Military Cross in action quietly watched the proceedings.

Shang's sisters, who had clung   close to his side at length led him off to his brother's car, followed by more   and more bursts of cheering. Many    

who saw him remarked, "How well he looks!" A digger with a lusty voice   chimed in, "and so do his ribbons!"  

It was thus that Private Shang,

bravest of soldiers, came home from  

the war.