Ser­vice re­mem­bers WWI sol­diers

Narrogin Observer - - News - Mal­colm Quekett and Ann Rawl­ings For in­for­ma­tion on “Fallen but not For­got­ten”, con­tact the Wick­epin Shire on 9888 1005 or email ad­min@wick­

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.

Pic­ture: Barry Corke

Wick­epin res­i­dents watch the Avon and Hills Car­riage Driv­ing Club in the Cen­te­nary of Ar­mistice Com­mem­o­ra­tive Pa­rade on Oc­to­ber 13.

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