The 25th April marks an important national day in Australia's and New Zealand's calendar. And the Dawn Service is a vital part of that day - for it was a dawn that the Allied servicemen landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
In cities and towns all across Australia you will find war memorials to remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice in war. Some like the Australian War Memorial in Canberra require a two day visit to fully absorb it all. In Western Australia three of our most significant examples are the Kings Park War Memorial overlooking Perth and the Swan River, the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial in Albany, and the HMAS Sydney Memorial in Geraldton.
You can see them below - clockwise from left - Geraldton, Perth, Albany.
On our travels around Western Australia we often stop at town war memorials and read the names inscribed there. In small towns there might be just a simple stone column with only a few names. Despite their size they are a significant part of the town and district’s history.
We have found the simplicity of some memorials really stir the emotions.
Not many sunrise locations in Western Australia look east over the ocean. The ANZAC WAR MEMORIAL in the Onslow Memorial Park at Beadon Point in Onslow takes advantage of this. Unveiled at sunrise on Anzac Day 2008, the memorial was designed by internationally acclaimed artists Joan Walsh-Smith and Charlie Smith.
The Corten steel sculpture is a stylized interpretation of the Australian Defence Force’s Rising Sun insignia badge, and is geographically positioned so that the sun rising over the bay shines directly through the arch at dawn on Anzac Day. The inscription simply says “We will remember them”.
The Smith’s say is was a surprisingly difficult feat of astrophysics to calculate exactly where the sun would rise on the 25th of April, to ensure the sun would be exactly central within the six metre high arch. This was achieved with the assistance of the surveying skills of Shire Engineer, Jeffery Breen.
“Our difficulty was the fact that we would be installing the memorial months before Anzac Day.” There must have been a huge sigh of relief when the sun rose that first Anzac morning.
Even though our stay in Onslow wasn’t in April, I was so enthralled by the atmosphere surrounding the memorial, I visited it at sunrise every morning of our stay. It is easily accessed along the path from the caravan park.
The Onslow War memorial was dedicated on the 15th September 2008, by Reverend Steve Cloudsdale, Chaplain to the Pilbara Regiment and attended by the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Alan Griffin MP. The ceremony also marked the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Onslow by enemy aircraft. Pilots from 2 FTS RAAF Pearce performed a fly past.
Nearby two brass slouch hats also created by Smith Sculptors and dedicated to the Onslow Volunteer Defence Corp, rest on a concrete bench. Soldiers wear their slouch hats with a khaki hatband, known as a 'puggaree', with the Rising Sun badge on the left-hand side.
The Navy used the Onslow jetty for refuelling during World War II and the RAAF operated a radar station at Onslow. The town was bombed on the night of 15 May 1943 when Japanese planes dropped three bombs on what they thought was the airstrip, but was actually a claypan. There were no casualties or damage.
Following the success of the Onslow memorial, the Shire of Ashburton was approached by Swansea RSL in New South Wales and the Smith’s agreed to build a replica at Swansea. The Swansea RSL Rising Sun Anzac Memorial was completed in 2015.
Joan and Charlie and their team at Smith’s Sculptors in Perth also designed and built the HMAS Sydney memorial in Geraldton, as well as many other commemorative and public artworks, including the National Memorial to the Australian Army on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
Overlooking wheatfields and facing the rising sun on the eastern summit of Yeerakine Rock, a three and a half metre high corton steel silhouette cutout sculpture depicts a Light Horseman on his horse. Designed and created by artisans from Arforms in Bilbra Lake, Perth, the sculpture is layered and embossed to add realism and detail. Funded in part by more than $1000 from community fundraising, the memorial was officially unveiled on 25 April 2015 to commemorate the Anzac Centenary.
The sculpture is dedicated to the many men and horses from the Kondinin district who served in World War 1 in the 10th Light Horse Regiment, as well as other service personnel. Recorded on a plaque are the names of locals who lost their lives in WWI and WWII, shattering the small community.
The 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment AIF (Australian Imperial Force) was the only AIF light horse regiment recruited in Western Australia during the WW1. The regiment began in October 1914 when it became apparent that Western Australia could provide more than a single squadron of mounted soldiers.
The regiment joined the 3rd Light Horse Brigade in Egypt and served dismounted at Gallipoli. The regiment's most notable actions were the charge at the Nek on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 7 August 1915, and Hill 60 on 29-30 August 1915 which was the last major assault of the Gallipoli Campaign. The Light Horse regiments were noted for their plume of emu feathers on their slouch hats.
Used by indigenous people for thousands of years as a water source and elevated lookout, the rock was first sighted by Europeans by Surveyor General John Septimus Roe when he camped there on 22 September 1848. A water catchment was built in 1927 to provide water for Kondinin. There are two walk trails through the sheoak woodlands, one leading to the summit to see the memorial and expansive views. There are interpretative panels along the way.
My only regret was that I wasn’t there at sunrise to see the sculpture silhouetted against the rising sun. Please wear suitable walking footwear and a hat. If walking at sunrise, please take a torch.
In Kondinin itself you can visit the Kondinin War Memorial and the Memorial Garden located on the corner of Jones Street and Gordon Street. On Anzac Day transport will be available from the rock’s first carpark for the drive up for those unable to walk. Contact the Kondinin Shire Office for details.
Location: Sloan Road, Yeerakine Rock, located 13km south of Kondinin via the Williams-Kondinin Road
The simple wooden cross of the VIETNAM VETS MEMORIAL in the 80 Mile Beach Caravan Park south of Broome, draws people every April and August.
Located at the edge of the caravan park just below the sand dunes and surrounded by a low white picket fence, it was built by Vietnam Veterans who stay at the caravan park annually. It remembers those who have lost their lives in the various conflicts in which Australia has been involved.
Vietnam Veteran, Ray Miles from Wongan Hills, later in life stayed at the Caravan Park for a few months each year. It was here he conceived the idea for the memorial. With the help of others he raised the funds for the materials and the caravan park owners set aside a space for the construction and committed to its maintenance. For all those involved and others, it is a special place to remember mates lost in Vietnam.
The memorial was officially opened and blessed by the Rev Judy Knowling of Frontier Services on 18th August 2010. This simple white cross is made the more poignant by its remote location, and yet hundreds attend the services annually on Anzac Day 25 April and Vietnam Veterans Day 18 August, on the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.
The design of the cross is the same as the Long Tan Cross, designed by ‘Pioneers’ from the 6RAR-NZ Anzac Battalion’s Assault Pioneer Platoon and constructed in the 6RAR-NZ lines at Nui Dat in Vietnam on the third anniversary of the battle, on 18 August 1969.
Australia's military involvement in the Vietnam War from August 1962 to April 1975 was the second longest in duration of any war in Australia's history.
Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park is popular with people travelling north. Long stretches of beach, popular for fishing and beach combing, 80 Mile Beach is the longest uninterrupted beach in Western Australia extending 220km. It is classified as an important bird area for shorebirds.
Location: 80 Mile Beach Caravan Park, Wallal Downs, via Great Northern Highway and Eighty Mile Beach Road (unsealed), 375km south of Broome.
Recently during our little Easter weekend trip through some of the Western Australian wheatbelt we visited the town of Pingelly which looms large in my father's family history. I went into their Memorial gardens and found on the wall there the name of my great uncle Norman Albert Clayden who died at the age of 19 on 27 April 2015 at Gallipoli. I had seen his name on the war memorial in Perth and Canberra, but somehow seeing it on this local memorial made it seem more real. He was in the 11th Battalion. I have blogged about him before. He has an unmarked grave at Gallipoli.
A couple of weeks ago
A couple of weeks agoI found a discrepency in the date of his death. It was not the 2 May as reported in the official records, but it was actually 27 April only two days after the Allied landing at Gallipoli. Such a terrible waste of young life. I actually have some more research to do after going to a historical writer's talk the other day. He said the descrepency could have come about between the date of his death, and the date it was reported to the command post.
When you travel around, I hope you take the time to visit our war memorials, and learn something about our history and the men and women who gave their lives.
Smith Sculptors: www.smithsculptors.com.au
Things to See and Do in Onslow:
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