As we approach the Centenary of the dedication of The Longwarry and District War Memorial on November 11th this year, we continue the story of its history and how it all came about.
This newspaper report of the first Annual General Meeting of The Longwarry Soldiers Memorial League provides an insight into the people that raised the funds to erect the Memorial. Many of the names will be familiar to long time District residents, many of the family names are still in the District today, the descendants of these men.
Gippsland Independent, Thu 6 Jun 1918 Page 4
“On Wednesday, 29th inst., the Longwarry Soldiers’ Memorial League held its first annual meeting, about 30 members attending. The preliminary balance-sheet (to May 31) shows receipts £308, expenditure £127, profit £181 (excluding gold medals in hand value £5 10s). Mr. Vickery and Cr Smethurst (retiring President) both standing down, Mr. G. A. Smith was elected President for the ensuing year. The ballot for senior Vice-President resulted in the election of Mr. W. Proctor, of Labertouche). The other office bearers were elected unanimously as follows:—Vice-Presidents, Cr J. Smethurst, Messrs. Vickery, Goodrich, Bain, and Hughes (Modella) ; hon. Treasurer, Mr. E. Vickery; hon. Auditors, Cr Mc Hugh and Mr. W. J. Young; executive committee, Messrs. W. J. Young, Toy, Haysom, Hooppell, Ford, C. Eacott ; hon. secretary, Mr. C. H. Powis.”
The gold medals mentioned in this newspaper report were presented at a reception given to every District soldier and nurse when they returned home, either wounded during the war, or when they came home after the war.
There are 119 names from the first World War inscribed on the Memorial and based on the closest census of the time we estimate that this is about one in every 5 males enlisted and when you consider that the census included males under 18 or over 40 no doubt the real figure is probably closer to 1 in every 3 or 4 local men between those ages enlisted.
Included in those 119 names, on the western face of The Memorial, there are 27 names of men who never came home. That is 1 in every 3 local men who fought were killed, they are either buried in war cemeteries in France, Belgium or England. Some were buried at sea as they died on ships taking them to hospitals and still more are buried in the battle grounds of Gallipoli and Western Europe, their bodies were never found. Many more were severely wounded.
If you are at the Monument and take the time to read all the names you will see that many families had more than one son enlist, some families had as many as 4 fighting overseas, and tragically some families lost more than one member.
With the help of the Students at Labertouche and Longwarry Primary Schools last year, the records of 60 of these men and women have been researched and from this we know that there was a wide variety of backgrounds of these men and the one nurse whose names were inscribed on the Memorial.
Some were born and lived in Labertouche, Longwarry or Modella, others were born in the District but had moved away when they enlisted and then there were those born elsewhere, some overseas, who had moved to the District to work before war broke out.
At the rededication ceremony to mark the Centenary of The Monument, a very special event will take place; history will be made as a name will be added 100 years after it should have been included.
Come along to Remembrance Day on November 11th to pay your respect to all service men and women across all conflicts and to witness and acknowledge the person whose name will be added after 100 years.