War memorial now underway
WITH an estimated total cost of $200,000, Victoria Park RSL’s long-awaited memorial wall is finally under construction at Playfield Park.
To date, the sub-branch has raised about $180,000 but more pledges are desperately needed as it must repay a $100,000 loan to the Town of Victoria Park, which has also donated $50,000 to the worthy cause.
President Kelvin Liddiard said a $50,000 grant from the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program announced by Swan MHR Steven Irons on Thursday had added to a $25,000 Lotterywest grant received late last year for the project.
The curved brick wall will be finished – complete with bronze plaques for the names of more than 400 from the Town who served in World War I – by April 25 in time for Anzac Day and the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.
Mr Liddiard said the memorial wall was particularly significant because Victoria Park was one of only a few main recruiting centres for the Great War.
“In those days – only 13 years after federation in January 1901 – the Australian Army was made up purely of volunteers. It didn’t have a regular army,” Mr Liddiard said.
“Victoria Park was set up as a major recruiting centre, like Kalgoorlie, Fremantle and Mosman Park. From there, men went to Blackboy Hill in Greenmount for training Blackboy Hill was .“the birthplace of the Australian Imperial Force in WA and more than 32,000 men trained at the camp before heading off to war.
“This wall will honour all the men who were born in, or lived in the environs of Victoria Park at their time of enlistment. Many, of course, did not return from the catastrophic war that took the lives of more than 61,000 Australians.”
He said among the names on the wall would be Victoria Park’s first mayor, Captain Robert Thompson McMaster, who died aged 50 in the fruitless battle of The Nek at Gallipoli on August 7, 1915.
“McMaster, designer and architect of the Victoria Park Hotel, was among seven officers and 73 men from the 10th Light Horse killed at the battle and later graphically portrayed at the climax of Peter Weir’s 1981 film, Gallipoli,” Mr Liddiard said
“Members of the stillprominent Devenish family also fought and died. Arthur Lancelot Devenish was killed on April 25, 1915 at Gallipoli while brothers Charles Rowland Devenish and George Frederick Devenish survived.”
The sub-branch also received a $9814 Veteran and Community Grant program from the Australian Government last week. It will use this for a fridge, an outdoor barbecue kitchen and furniture.
Inspecting the work on the new war memorial: Victoria Park RSL president Kelvin Liddiard, Department of Veterans’ Affairs community support officer Fergus Beer, Lotterywest’s Lucy Reynolds, RSLWA chief executive Phil Orchard, Town of Victoria Park acting chief executive Nathan Cain, Department of Veterans’ Affairs community support officer Gabby Ryan and Victoria Park RSL vice-president Trevor Freestone.