Why the number 55?
For one fearless man, that number signified his desire to take on a changing world. John Henry “Jack” Tracey was the great-grandfather of 55 comms director Michael Crutcher. Jack traded in his job as a South Brisbane police officer to dash off to enlist for Australia in the Great War. Jack was at Gallipoli on that first Anzac dawn in 1915, charging across the beaches with his 9th Battalion mates. He would be shot four days later only to return to action in June. In July, he was buried in a trench collapse but recovered. Not long after, he was shot in the back and sent to an English hospital. He was discharged because of his injuries. His brothers George and Edward also served at Gallipoli before seeing action in France. George was wounded during the Gallipoli landing.
World War I wasn’t the first time that Jack Tracey had sought adventure. In 1901, the 13-year-old Jack stowed away to South Africa to offer his services in the Boer War. His father, discovering that his son had stowed away, raced across the country to cut off the ship at Fremantle. But the ship did not dock in the west and the barely-teenaged Jack arrived in South Africa, only to be turned away by the Australian military because of his youth. Jack kicked around the gold-laden southern Africa as part of a circus troupe during the five years before his return to Australia.
When the Government called for volunteers to serve in the Great War in 1914, Jack was at the front of the line. Of the more than 320,000 Australians who served overseas in that war, Jack was among the first to enlist. Jack’s service number of 55 is tribute to a Queenslander bold enough to make his contribution to a changing world.