To commemorate the Centenary of Anzac (2014-2018) the City of Ballarat, with the generous support of local institutions, committees, associations and individuals, launched a mobile website titled ‘Honouring Our Anzacs’. This easy to navigate platform enables access to the stories behind the 3,801 brave Ballarat men and women who fought for our country’s freedoms during the Great War. This mobile website is designed to enable access to the information available for those who have a memorial tree planted along the Ballarat Avenue of Honour.
While every effort has been made to ensure the information on this platform is complete, we seek the support of those who have in their possession the stories and photographs of those along the Ballarat Avenue of Honour.
If you have any information and particularly photos of any of the people mentioned on this web site, please contact the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee.
|Our Remembrance Day service this year specifically remembered twenty Avenue men who made the supreme sacrifice but who have no known grave, denying their grieving families even the slight consolation of knowing their loved one at least had a headstone carrying his name and honouring his service. We were able to identify the schools attended by each of these men, so invitations were sent out inviting the schools to lay a floral tribute during the service. Several of the soldier’s schools closed many years ago, but ten schools sent along delegations comprising pupils, teachers and parents. Ballarat High School’s Denise Hoogkamer and Connor Madigan called the soldiers’ names and schools before tributes were laid by our distinguished guests, local citizens and the delegations from Ballarat Grammar School and the Black Hill, Sebastopol, Buninyong, Mt Pleasant, Miners Rest, Pleasant Street, Wendouree and Newington Primary Schools. At the conclusion of the service, committee members helped the students to locate their soldier’s name on the Memorial Wall and place a poppy beside it.
Works to restore the Memorial Rotunda at the Arch of Victory will continue over the coming months. Ballarat builder and preservation specialist PFB Building will carry out the conservation works, including cleaning, repairing render, applying waterproofing and repainting. The works, which have been approved by Heritage Victoria under a heritage permit exemption, are being funded by the City of Ballarat ($20,000) and the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee ($20,000), generously supported by the Haymes Foundation.
Constructed in 1938, the Memorial Rotunda commemorates the Ballarat and district soldiers, sailors and nurses who served during World War One. The Rotunda provides an alphabetical list, and plaque numbers, of the service men and women who are commemorated in the 22km-long Avenue of Honour. The adjacent Memorial Wall carries a listing of the same names in plaque order.
The Rotunda was relocated from the north side of the Avenue of Honour to the Memorial Wall site in 1993. The restoration works are planned for completion ahead of the November 11th Remembrance Day service at the Arch.
The annual Mother's Day service at the Garden of the Grieving Mother adjacent to Ballarat's Arch of Victory attracted a crowd of around fifty people who laid flowers at the foot of the grieving mother statue to celebrate mothers on their special day and remember those grieving parents who lost children during World War 1. The Mayor of Ballarat, Cr. Des Hudson, welcomed the attendess, before Garry Snowden told the story of two World War 1 mothers.
Catherine McNamee's son Kenneth joined the AIF in July 1915 and served on the battlefields of France as a battalion runner, delivering messages between the command posts and the front line, for which he was awarded a Military Medal in December 1916. The following April, he was reported "missing in action" at Bullecourt with a court of enquiry later determining he had died on the battlefield. His despairing mother, having given permission for her under-age son to join the war effort, lived for years with the forlorn hope that he would be found alive. In 1921, in response to an enquiry from the Base Records Office, she wrote: "I think he must be in Germany in some of the camps. Or do you think it probable he would be in any of the asylums? If only I knew anything definite but this suspense is awful". Her suspense was never alleviated as Kenneth has no known grave,
Kate Vincent was the mother of nine children, three of which died early in life. Unable to care for them, the remaining five boys were placed in an orphanage following the death of her husband. She bore another child before her second husband died, leaving her a widow once more. Her son, Leslie, enlisted in 1915 and served at Gallipoli and the battlefields of France before being reported "missing in action" in Belgium in October 1917. Like Catherine McNamee's son, Leslie was later found to have been killed in action and has no known grave.
Carol Holding closed the service with a reading of the poem A Picture of You by Deborah Robinson. The words sum up how Catherine and Kate must have felt:
The angels came and took you; that really wasn't fair,
They took my one and only son, my future life, my heir.
If only they had asked me if I would take your place,
I would have done so willingly, leaving you this world to grace.
|Several hundred people attended a brief service at the Memorial Wall in the Avenue of Honour precinct at 8am on Anzac Day, 2023. The president of the Arch of Victory / Avenue of Honour Committee, Garry Snowden, spoke of the men and women who continued to suffer, both physically and mentally, after returning home from the WW1 battlefields. From Ballarat, these included Victor Todd, who suffered a gun shot wound to the chest at Fromelles, after which he developed pleurisy and pneumonia and was discharged in February 1918. He died in June 1921, aged just 24. George Dyer was wounded in action in July 1917, suffering gunshot wounds to the head, hand and back. In September 1918, just a couple of months before the Armistice, he returned to the battlefield only to be gassed a week later. The 45 year-old father died in January 1923. The names of these men and seventeen other Ballarat soldiers who died in the 1920s as a result of their war service, were read to the crowd, accompanied by the sound of a tolling bell.
The Garden of the Grieving Mother was an initiative of the Arch of Victory / Avenue of Honour Committee following its 2014 decision to purchase two house blocks adjacent to the Arch of Victory to be developed as a garden for quite reflection. The Committee raised funds for the construction of the garden and commissioned Peter Corlett to create the Grieving Mother statue. The Garden was opened by the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, in 2017. The garden has since been gifted to the City of Ballarat which is resposnsible for its maintenance and upkeep.
Although now well established, the garden is not particularly obvious to those driving west in the Avenue and the Committee thought identifying signage might be a useful final touch. Caitlin Perry, one of the original designers, was approached to provide concept drawings, and a regular donor generaously agreed to pay for its casting and installation. The raised lettering on the east-facing seating wall adds a finishing touch to this important gift to the people of Ballarat.
The photos of Gallipoli headstones included on this website are provided courtesy of the Spirits of Gallipoli project.