Sto­ries of sol­diers en­shrined

Stirling Times - - Front Page - Jon Bas­sett

HOW sol­diers sur­vived when they came home will be re­mem­bered when the cen­te­nary of the Armistice that ended World War I is com­mem­o­rated at An­zac Cot­tage in Mt Hawthorn on Re­mem­brance Day.

“They came back and of­ten they be­came prob­lems in so­ci­ety; they took to drink be­cause they were of­ten writ­ten up as a bril­liant hero but they were just a bloke,” Friends of An­zac Cot­tage sec­re­tary Anne Chap­ple said.

The cot­tage was built by the Mt Hawthorn com­mu­nity for Mrs Chap­ple’s grand­fa­ther Pri­vate John Porter, who was the first re­turned sol­dier in 1915 af­ter be­ing wounded on the first day of the Gal­lipoli land­ings.

Mrs Chap­ple said her grand­fa­ther was like many who fol­lowed af­ter Armistice three years later.

“He never spoke about it and said there were oth­ers more wor­thy than him,” she said.

The cot­tage has col­lected sev­eral sto­ries about the lives of re­turned sol­diers.

“Alf White helped build the cot­tage then signed up; he was wounded in both arms on the West­ern Front and had one arm am­pu­tated, but when he got back he re­sumed his job as a brick carter,” Mrs Chap­ple said.

Light Horse­man Alf Git­tos had se­ri­ous eye dam­age from the wind-blown sand of the Mid­dle East and had to give up work only a few years af­ter re­turn­ing.

PLAQUES at 1265 trees along Kings Park’s Hon­our Av­enues act as a re­minder to the pub­lic of the sol­diers, sailors and air­men who died over­seas or who have no known grave.

“I of­ten have com­ments from peo­ple say­ing ‘we walk about the park, we look at the plaques’ and they have sig­nif­i­cance for them, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a young man who is re­mem­bered,” Hon­our Av­enues Group sec­re­tary Robin Slater (82) said.

There is only one oak tree left from the first plant­ing along May Drive in 1919.

Three years later, mem­bers of the 14-strong High­gate RSL-based vol­un­teer group started tend­ing the 1700 plaques each week.

“Ev­ery one of us gets a great deal of pride from it and the sig­nif­i­cance of the plaques is great to us, as we are ex-ser­vice­men and they re­mem­ber the guys who went be­fore us,” Mr Slater said.

While most plaques are from World War I and World War II, some tell of the ser­vice by those in con­flicts as late as Bor­neo in the mid-1960s.

“Some days you come up here and there’s a flower on a tree and it could be the day that per­son died,” group pres­i­dent Ken Jones (86) said.

Hon­our Av­enues started in Victoria in 1917, be­fore found­ing Kings Park board mem­ber Arthur Lovekin ded­i­cated the trees on May Drive to 404 sol­diers in 1919.

Af­ter World War II, 300 su­gar gums were planted on Lovekin Av­enue in 1948, and Marri Walk near the Rio Tinto Na­turescape ded­i­cated in 1999.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d487786

Liv­ing His­tory re-en­ac­tor Grant O'Neil at the en­trance of the 1916-built An­zac Cot­tage.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d487835

High­gate RSL mem­bers Ken Jones and Robin Slater are seen here with the last tree planted in 1919 af­ter World War I.

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