This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981
Richmond Cornwallis Eather (1888-1966), soldier, station-owner and manager, was born on 18 January 1888 at Goodooga, New South Wales, son of John Rowland Eather, storekeeper, and his wife Hannah Anne, née Crothers, both native-born. He was educated at Goodooga Public School but left at 13 to work in local shearing sheds. In 1907 he moved to Richmond, Queensland, and later to Muttaburra and Hughenden, to manage properties owned by his uncles, R., T. and H. Crothers.
Eather enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a private on 17 June 1915, embarked with reinforcements for the 15th Battalion in August and saw action at Gallipoli. In March 1916 he was transferred to the 47th Battalion which reached France in June and in August-September fought in the battles of Pozières and Mouquet Farm. Eather was awarded the Military Medal for personal bravery during this period. Promoted sergeant in September, he was posted to the 6th Officer Cadet Battalion at Oxford, England, and in March 1917 was commissioned second lieutenant in the 25th Battalion.
Early in June 1918 a series of minor counter-blows was made by British and Australian formations to relieve pressure on their French allies. On 10 June near Morlancourt the 25th took its objective in a twenty-minute assault. As the battalion's intelligence officer, Eather showed conspicuous gallantry by maintaining communications with the attacking companies after the signals officer had been wounded. He repeatedly passed through heavy enemy barrages to bring in the wounded as well as to maintain telephone lines to the forward companies, and for these actions was awarded the Military Cross.
In September the allied offensive against the Hindenburg line began, and on 3 October the 25th Battalion spearheaded its brigade's attack in a two-corps assault on the Beaurevoir line. Eather again showed great bravery and initiative for which he won a Bar to his Military Cross. The battalion attacked at 6 a.m. across three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) of open country and, after hard fighting, captured its objective. Eather then went across to the right flank under heavy fire and returned with information that the neighbouring battalion was unable to move forward. The 25th immediately established a flank defence to protect against an enemy counter-attack. Eather then went further forward towards the enemy line and brought back valuable information for guiding the next phase of this crucial operation. He was transferred to the 26th Battalion later in the month.
On 13 March 1919 at Knockbreda, Antrim, Ireland, Eather married Mary Jane McFarlane Longmore, a British Army nurse who had won the Royal Red Cross. They returned to Australia in May and until 1927 managed a family property at Muttaburra. Eather then managed Sylvania station near Hughenden and eventually bought the partners out; in 1954 he sold Sylvania and retired to Warwick. He was a prominent citizen in the Hughenden, Richmond and Muttaburra districts and served several terms on the Flinders Shire Council. His main hobbies were horse-racing and exhibiting hacks and hunters in shows. Survived by his wife and two daughters, he died on 21 April 1966 at Warwick.
Darryl McIntyre, 'Eather, Richmond Cornwallis (1888–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/eather-richmond-cornwallis-6082/text10417, published in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 1 November 2014.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981