The Centenary of Anzac 2014-2018 is one of the most important commemorative periods in Australia’s history and this year, Remembrance Day marked 100 years since the Armistice of the First World War.
The Australian Government has supported projects that commemorate the end of the War over the past four years, and it was a privilege to be part of the Armistice Centenary Grants Program. I established the ‘Dobell Community Consultation Committee’ and together with local RSL Sub-Branch representatives and the National Servicemen’s Association, projects were selected for one-off grants to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice locally.
The Wyong Family History Group received funding to install 21 Banners along Tuggerah Straight featuring the names of men from Wyong district who were killed in WWI, and the year of their death. Banners also feature the names of major battles and images of the Wyong memorial and poppy, the symbol of Remembrance Day.
Wyong RSL Sub Branch are partnering with Central Coast Council to build a memorial at Jilliby Cemetery that recognises the servicemen and women from the Wyong region who contributed to the war effort. Many people from the area who died at war are buried in the Cemetery. The Sub-Branch has purchased a seedling from the lone pine and the memorial will consist of a large sandstone piece with plaque.
Many residents of Bupa Aged Care in Bateau Bay have strong links with Australia’s war efforts, and to recognise this the WWI monument will be restored and a quilt designed and made by residents to symbolise the sacrifice of both men and women to the war effort is being made and framed for display.
The National Servicemen’s Association Tuggerah Lakes branch have built a sandstone memorial on the grounds of the Glenvale School, which will be used by the school community for Anzac and Remembrance Day commemorations. I was honoured to be part of the official unveiling of this memorial and present an Australian Flag to fly on the new flagpole.
Two bronze statues, weighing 350kg each and replicating the Martin Place memorial, have been erected at the Toukley RSL Cenotaph, where more than 400 local servicemen’s ashes are interred. At their dedication service we heard from local teenager Mia Thomas, whose Great Great Grandfather Captain Alfred Shout was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in battle shortly before he died from injuries in August 1915.
Like many Central Coast residents my family has been touched by war. My great-grandfather William Henry Murray saw combat at Gallipoli and while serving in France in the 2nd Australian Pioneer Battalion he was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery for assisting wounded troops under heavy fire.
Commemorations like these are important to keep our memories alive and show gratitude to those who fought for our freedoms. It is also a reminder of the toll war takes on communities and the importance of peacekeeping.
Lest we forget.
The Australian Government is inviting organisations through an open competitive process to apply for the Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program - Major Commemorative Grants - open for application. Click here for details on the grant.