When I was a boy growing up in Narrogin the old men and women in my community had been soldiers and nurses at Gallipoli and the Western Front in World War I. They had been Prisoners of War on the Thai Burma Railway and they dropped supplies to the soldiers on the Kokoda Track.
Attending the Narrogin War Memorial on for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service was all about watching the glowing orange line of cigarettes being drawn on by the old fellas, followed by raking coughs.
It was all about being quiet, and being a small gathering. It was about taking the time to remember, for as Lord Byron wrote, “There are deeds that should not pass away and names that must not be forgotten.”
On ANZAC Day across Western Australia there will be over 70 services but there are many more memorials than that across our suburban and regional communities.
For a special Hidden Treasures program, we looked at the smaller memorials and services throughout our community. Acknowledging the popularity of the big services at Kings Park and Fremantle, I’d like to suggest some of the special places for smaller crowds that might interest you.
Wadjamup Island holds a beautiful service on Thompson Bay. A predawn ferry ride in the darkness from the mainland to the island, watching the sun rise over Perth on the distant horizon and imagining the troop ships departing Fremantle for foreign shores and enjoying a hot gunfire breakfast after the service is one of Western Australia’s very special ANZAC Day experiences.
Ocean Reef in the northern suburbs is a spectacular memorial with a 6 metre high arch that focuses your attention on the horizon out to sea. It’s located at Bat Harbour Quays in Ocean Reef.
The Sandakan Memorial in Kings Park is tucked away behind the Kings Park Tennis Club and remembers the more than 2400 Prisoners of War, including 137 Western Australians, who lost their lives at Sandakan and on the three death marches in 1945. Just a little walk away from the memorial are three plaques for the Dorizzi brothers, Herb, Tom and Gordon. These three were brothers from Toodyay who lost their lives at Sandakan and on the death marches.
North Fremantle has a very poignant memorial on Queen Victoria Street. In 1901 North Fremantle was admitted to the Western Australian Football League. In World War One, half the team was killed. With the loss of the entire forward line, the ruckman, ruck rover, fullback and other players, the team never played again.
Finally, the ANZAC Cottage in Mount Hawthorn, built in a day for a returned serviceman in 1916, is open over the ANZAC Day long weekend. It’s a great opportunity to visit with your family and remember that paying tribute to our fallen and those who have served is just part of the ANZAC story. We also reflect on the lives and communities at home who lost loved ones and whose lives and communities would never be the same again.
Visit your local memorial, discover one in a distant suburb and learn their story and place in our community.
Lest we – or anyone – forget.