Carvings to honour Valley brothers
A DERWENT Valley woman is on a mission of commemoration after finding out two relatives who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I had trees planted in their honour.
Jackie Slyp discovered two trees in Back River Rd at Magra were planted in honour of the fallen brothers, and says she’s planning to have the trees transformed into carvings to commemorate the fallen Diggers.
William Henry Harris was killed in action on February 17, 1918, aged 26, near Ypres in Belgium.
His younger brother Harold Norman Harris died in a prison camp on September 9 of the same year, at just 19 years of age.
The Harris brothers, who grew up in New Norfolk, were among the 40th Battalion, 6th Reinforcements that left Victoria on board HMAT A67 Orsova on December 6, 1917.
Ms Slyp, whose great grandfather was a stepbrother of the fallen pair, said while studying a history degree at the University of Tasmania she learned two trees were planted in 1920 at the old Magra school site in memory of the men.
Ms Slyp said the 98-yearold trees had never been formally signposted or acknowledged as commemorative.
She said the trees were now in poor condition and had to be trimmed regularly to reduce damage to the above powerlines.
After seeking Commonwealth and State Government funding, along with financial support from Norske Skog and CWA Tasmania, Ms Slyp has applied to the Derwent Valley Council to have the trees trimmed to a base height which would allow wooden carvings to sit on top of the trunks.
“This project will involve the trees to be trimmed to a suitable height and then the installation of two chainsaw carvings would be fitted that respectfully and appropriately acknowledge the supreme sacrifice made by these young men,” she said. “I’ve approached Eddie Freeman for the chainsaw carving who does a supreme job and I feel confident that he would create a very respectful memorial that would also become something that people would want to come and see.”
Mr Freeman carved World War I memorial figures from trees at Legerwood in the state’s North-East.
Ms Slyp said the project, which was awaiting Derwent Valley Council approval, would serve as a commemorative community landmark for the fallen rothers.
“I think it could actually become quite an attraction,” she said
“Part of what we’re looking to do is implement an interpretation panel at the site, where people can come, have a look and read about their history.
“These two young men, and others from the same era, who made the ultimate sacrifice, gave up their opportunity to marry, have children, and return home — so I think from that point of view it’s really important to pay tribute to that.”
Ms Slyp is hopeful the commemoration for the fallen diggers can be erected this year to mark 100 years since the conclusion of WWI.
FALLEN HEROES: Jackie Slyp holds photos of World War I soldiers Harold and William Harris in front of the trees that were planted in their memory; below, brothers William, left, and Harold.