Service remembers WWI soldiers
This Sunday, the Wickepin community will unite to celebrate peace and commemorate 91 young men from the district who died in World War I.
While local in sentiment, their Remembrance Day event will be mirrored across the world as people take stock of the catastrophic loss of life sustained during the “war to end all wars”.
Diggers from WA were front and centre over the four years the war raged, from 1914 to 1918, playing their part in key theatres of battle, whether on the rocky hills of Gallipoli, the sands of the Middle East or the muddy trenches of Western Europe.
After German troops entered Luxembourg and France on August 2, 1914, prime minister Joseph Cook said that in the event of war with Germany, Australian vessels would be placed under the control of the British Admiralty, and offered an expeditionary force to be placed at Britain’s disposal.
On August 4, Germany invaded Belgium, Britain declared war on Germany, and the next day Cook told the nation that Australia, too, was at war. On August 10, voluntary recruitment for an Australian Imperial Force began.
WA historian Geoffrey Bolton, in Land of Vision and Mirage, WA since 1826, noted that WA was allocated a quota of 1400 recruits.
“In fact, more than three times that number came forward on the first day,” he wrote. WA’s rate of recruitment was higher than the rest of Australia, which Bolton said was because of the State having more single males of military age than the Australian average, more recent British migrants and more farmers and rural workers experiencing difficulty because of a severe drought in 1914.
Almost 10 per cent of the State’s total population — 32,231 in all — were to enlist during World War I.
From Wickepin district and the communities to its east, nearly 270 men were sent into the fray, with 91 not returning to their Wheatbelt home.
Local farmer Stefanie Green, who has compiled new book “Fallen but not Forgotten”, explores some of their stories in her historical tome.
The book, to be launched in town on Sunday as part of Remembrance Day activities, offers a com- prehensive look into the lives of local soldiers from 1914 to 1995.
Ms Green said about two-thirds of those who enlisted for WWI from the area were farmers or had an occupation relating to farming, including the brothers of wellknown local identity Albert Facey.
Facey, who farmed with his family south of Wickepin, notably wrote “A Fortunate Life”, an autobiography chronicling his early life, his experiences during WWI and his return to civilian life after the war.
He served for the Australian Imperial Forces in the 11th Battalion in Gallipoli, and while he returned home, his brother Joseph Facey was killed in action on the peninsula. Another brother, Roy Facey, who went by the name of Sam, was killed in action in the Dardanelles.
Ms Green said these men would be remembered at a Centenary of Armistice Service at the Wickepin War Memorial from 10.30am on Sunday, with a lunch in the Wickepin Town Hall to follow.
The centenary of WWI was also recently marked in town by a visit from the Avon and Hills Carriage Driving Club, with members donning military regalia for a special parade on October 13.
The Centenary of Armistice Commemorative Parade was led by four horsemen in uniform representing the returning soldiers of WWI.
It also featured one riderless horse signifying the local men who did not return from the war.
Club member Marilyn Piper said drivers, ponies and horses from as far north as Meckering and as far south as Karridale participated in the parade, which concluded with a special presentation at Albert Facey Homestead.
Wickepin residents watch the Avon and Hills Carriage Driving Club in the Centenary of Armistice Commemorative Parade on October 13.