THE names of all Fremantle servicemen who died during World War I will light up the town hall this weekend as the port city prepares for one of the most important Remembrance Days in a generation.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War and Fremantle’s role has already been marked with a train journey last Friday from Blackboy Hill to the port, commemorating the departure of the country’s first troops—albeit a day earlier than the actual date.
Hundreds of school children lined the platform before troops and dignitaries marched to the maritime museum for a service.
On Saturday the STS Leeuwin sailed into Gage Roads carrying the families of members of the 11th Battalion, who exactly 100 years earlier had sailed for Egypt before heading to Gallipoli.
The 11th was the first battalion recruited in WA and was the first ashore in Turkey, playing a major role in defending the beachhead. Later the battalion saw bloody action in the trenches of the Western Front. During the war, 1115 members of the battalion were killed and another 2249 wounded.
Defence chaplain Marie-Louise Collins held a small service and passed sprigs of rosemary to family members, who cast them into the sea as a gesture of remembrance to those who didn’t return.
The commemorations continue with the lighting display on the weekend before Tuesday morning’s Remembrance Day service at Monument Hill. The service starts at 10.45am, and a feature will be students laying 849 crosses bearing the names of local soldiers killed in action.
If you’ve got an early Herald, Australia’s submarine service celebrates its 100th anniversary on Friday November 7 at 11.30am in Kings Square by gaining freedom of entry to Fremantle. Mainly a ceremonial honour, it gives the “silent service” as they’re known, the right to parade through the streets.
In East Fremantle, Leeuwin Barracks will hold a Remembrance Day service at 10.15am at the main flag station.
The Applecross RSL sub-branch holds Remembrance Day service at the Clock Tower Memorial in Melville Civic Square on Almondbury Road. It starts at 10.45am and people are invited to lay a floral tribute.
In Cockburn, a catafalque party from the Royal Australian Navy’s Stirling base will kick off the service with a march to stand guard around the memorial at Memorial Hall on Rockingham Road at 10.30am.
Following the service dignitaries and diggers will head back to the nearby RSL hall for a lunch.
“WE may even say that we want that little section annexed to the RSL.”
The Barnett government’s local government mergers have Cockburn veteran Arthur Stanton and his comrades shellshocked; if the new boundaries are adopted they’ll be behind enemy lines, in Fremantle.
The Cockburn RSL Hall and war memorial both fall within the expanded Fremantle border and Mr Stanton says this has caused the group some consternation as Fremantle already has its own league.
“You’ve got to change the name, so do we revert to the original name after World War I of Spearwood or do we change it to Jervoise Bay,” he asked the Herald. “There’ll be three sub-branches in Fremantle; the Fremantle branch which is almost dead, Bicton-Palmyra, and the most progressive RSL in Western Australia—Cockburn.
“But there’s a hell of a lot of history tied up in Cockburn— people might not know but the monument that’s at Memorial Hall was originally in Spearwood. You can’t just throw that away.”
Mr Stanton says every year the club presents Anzac memorial awards to 24 local primary schools (including Fremantle) and says even after the mergers it’ll make incursions across the border into the new City of Jervoise Bay to make sure the connection isn’t lost.
Meanwhile the club’s had some good success helping young veterans come to terms with their experience (“Got your back,” Herald, April 26, 2014).
Mr Stanton says the club attracted eight returned soldiers to march earlier this year and, as word has spread about its ground-breaking approach to post-traumatic stress, more have since joined the club. It’s been targeting personnel who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor.
It’s now got a big enough contingent that it had been planning to hold the country’s first service dedicated to Middle-East conflict next October, but that was put on hold when prime minister Tony Abbott announced a national day of recognition for March.
Mr Stanton said the club may still hold its own ceremony, but will make sure it’s on the same day as the rest of the country.
Reports by STEVE GRANT Photos by DAVID NICOLSON