The 'unknown soldier' was found to be Private John Cowper of Basin Pocket
The 'unknown soldier' was found to be Private John Cowper of Basin Pocket Contributed

Unknown soldier's identity revealed

AFTER a call to the community in the QT before Anzac Day, the Ipswich Genealogical Society has found the identity of its "unknown soldier".

Society president Irma Deas said the group received a large-size portrait of a World War One-era soldier, believed to have come from the Ipswich area.

"We got the portrait from one of our supporters, who attends many clearing sales at country properties, but he was not certain exactly which property the portrait had come from," Mrs Deas said.

"It was part of a bigger lot he received, but it was in such good condition.

"He did not want to see it wrecked or thrown out."

Instead, it was donated to the society, and hangs in the headquarters at the Ipswich Historical Society.

"We were given an indication as to who it may have been.

"But we were not certain, so we decided to ask Ipswich residents, through the Ipswich Advertiser, if anyone could confirm his identity."

Mrs Deas said the response was almost immediate, with a number of items coming to light.

"When we followed through, we found this was in fact Jonathon 'Nugget' Cowper, who was born in Yorkshire in England, but grew up in Ipswich, after his family moved here in 1885 when he was about 12 months old."

Mr Cowper, by then a coal miner, enlisted in the AIF on September 6, 1915, at the age of 33.

He was posted first to Egypt in 1916, and then to France, arriving at the battle front in September 1916.

"But on December 21, he was removed from the trenches, suffering from trenchfoot, and was hospitalised for many months, before being returned to Australia."

Post war, Mr Cowper returned to coal mining in Ipswich, eventually moving to Mackay in north Queensland by 1936, where he passed away in 1947, and was buried in the Mackay cemetery, Mrs Deas said.

"It appears he died a bachelor, having never married, his family erecting a headstone 'In loving memory of our dear brother' on his grave in Mackay."

With the identity of the "unknown soldier" now revealed, Mrs Deas said the portrait would remain in the society's offices, but with full details of Mr Cowper available to researchers.



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