Stories of soldiers enshrined
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.
Living History re-enactor Grant O'Neil at the entrance of the 1916-built Anzac Cottage.
Highgate RSL members Ken Jones and Robin Slater are seen here with the last tree planted in 1919 after World War I.