Local Anzac’s story brought to life again
The story of an Albany Anzac who was killed in battle in 1917 has been given new life through a chance finding by a school group from England.
When Nottingham schoolteacher Darren Wood took his students to the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, they stumbled across the grave of Albany-born World War I soldier Private Daniel Oreo.
Upon learning Pte Oreo was born in Albany, Mr Wood reached out to the Albany community about 15,000km away through the Historic Albany Facebook page.
He was searching for more information or relatives of the fallen soldier with the unusual surname.
Social media enabled him to connect with former Albany woman Bron Oreo, who married Pte Oreo’s great-nephew.
“Darren told me ‘it was weird how we discovered him. I was just showing the students the roll of the fallen and as I flicked through the pages, one lad said ‘stop, we’ve just seen his grave over there’.”
“Darren and I were both buzzing about their find — and he said it was as if he was calling out to be discovered.”
Pte Oreo was born in Albany in 1897 to Eladio and Jane Oreo.
He was the ninth of 15 children, based on the records Ms Oreo has found.
Ms Oreo said he enlisted on October 2, 1916 in the 28th Battalion, 7th Infantry
He was killed in action at Passchendaele, Belgium on September 20, 1917.
Testimony from fellow soldiers described him as a tall young man who was killed in the moments before they charged from the trenches to mount an attack.
“I am sorry, I do not know where he was buried, and we went over just after,” Private Louis Johnston from Cranbrook said.
“We took our objective and held it. The ground was held.”
Ms Oreo said she was inspired by the power of social media.
“I was amazed to read what Darren had posted and I could tell from what he said he had done some research on Daniel prior to posting this on Facebook,” she said.
“It has been so uplifting. I have shared this story with a few of the Oreo cousins and an uncle. It is just wonderful to be a part of it.
“We all know the sinister side of social media, but in this instance it has brought this story to life again, and through this we have been able to see where Daniel now lies.”
She said attending the dawn service in Gallipoli on Anzac Day and visiting Pte Oreo’s grave had been on her bucket list since she started her research.
“I believe no Oreo has had the opportunity to go and see this,” she said.
“I am indeed very grateful to Mr Wood for finding him and for me to have this opportunity to be able to share his story with the class.
“He, like many men and women who fought for us, never got to see his family or homeland again, nor could his parents bring him home.
“He is now resting among a field of heroes in a foreign land. Long live the memory of Daniel Oreo.”
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