As a community, the people of Wallan Wallan today are proud of their avenue of trees and their war memorial. It is interesting that the first memorial was the avenue of trees. When these trees were planted in 1918, the intention was to have two memorial cairns at one end of the lines of trees.
The cairns were built a couple of years after the Dutch Elms (Ulmus x hollandica ‘Purpurascens’) were planted, but the tablets were not put in place on the cairns. Instead, it seems the community opted to have a war memorial in line with the trees, in front of the Wallan Mechanics Institute. The trees commemorate 53 soldiers who volunteered to serve overseas in World War One. And it is reasonable to conclude the same 53 soldiers are recorded on the War Memorial.
The Wallan Mens’ Club was responsible for the planting of the trees. There was some indecision about where to locate the cairns. This may have caused the establishment of a new committee called the Wallan Soldiers’ Memorial Committee with the purpose of erecting a new memorial near the Wallan Mechanics Institute.
The following newspaper extracts will give readers some information about the sequence of events that concluded with Wallan having two significant World War One memorials. The names of the 53 soldiers are recorded in one newspaper report and it is interesting to also read about who was involved in this commemoration process.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 14 February 1918
At the weekly meeting of the Wallan Men’s Club, Mr D Patton presiding, it was agreed that the vigilance committee be requested to provide a memento for each returning soldier. A suggestion by Mr J Grills that trees be planted along the road from the railway station, to be called the Anzac Avenue of Honor, a tree to be planted for every man enlisted from Wallan, was held over.
The Age – Wednesday, 27 February 1918
Avenue of Honor
Wallan Mens’ Club has decided to take steps to have an avenue of Australian trees planted at Wallan to be called an Anzac avenue of honor. A tree is to be planted in the name of every soldier that has enlisted from the district.
Kilmore Advertiser – Saturday, 16 March 1918
The club (Wallan Men’s Club) is taking steps to have an avenue of trees planted if possible on the road leading from the railway station. The avenue is to be called the “Anzac Avenue”, and a tree is to be planted in the name of every soldier that enlisted from Wallan.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday 4 July 1918
(From our own Correspondent)
On Friday afternoon of last week a conference of the officers of the Broadmeadows Shire Council, and the officials of the Wallan Men’s Club was held at Wallan, to consider the question of planting an avenue of honor in memory of the Wallan district boys who enlisted. It was decided to plant an avenue of Australian trees on the Sydney road, at Wallan. On the suggestion of Mr Pullar, shire engineer, it was also decided to erect two pyramids of stones at the front of the avenue, the pyramids to contain a marble or dressed slab, with the names of Wallan soldiers inscribed on the slabs. Mr Pullar very generously offered to donate one tablet and Mr Cook, shire secretary, the other; both offers were very gratefully accepted.
Essendon Gazette – Thursday, 8 August 1918
Recently the Wallan Men’s Club decided to take steps to have an avenue of honour planted on one of the local roads. The trees to be planted will be Australian trees, especiallv the flowering gums. The required permission was asked of the Broadmeadows Council. who gave consent to the avenue being planted on the Sydney road at Wallan township. The Australian trees, however, were ruled out on the ground that they would keep the road too damp. This is giving rise to a good deal of dissatisfaction, as the Sydney road is a three-chain one. and there are thousands of native trees growing along it between Wallan and Kilmore and in not one instance can damp patch be seen where the trees are. In fact, the hardest and driest patches of the roadway are where the trees are growing. It is said that elms are to be substituted for the gums. By many people, the elm is considered to be one of the most unsuitable trees there are for street planting on account of the millions of suckers it is prone to send up.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 5 September 1918
From a Correspondent
An avenue in honor of district soldiers who have enlisted for active service, was planted on the Sydney road on Saturday afternoon, there was a large attendance of relatives and friends, of the soldiers. 53 trees were planted, a tree being planted in the name of each local soldier. At a given signal the trees were all planted by the soldiers’ relatives. No special demonstration was held, as it was decided to reserve this when the tablets, which are to be placed in cairns at the end of the avenue, are unveiled. It is proposed to erect two cairns and these are to contain tablets with the names of the soldiers inscribed thereon. These tablets are to be generously donated by the engineer and secretary of the Broadmeadows Shire Council. The trees and tree-guards have been provided by the Wallan Men’s Club, who, also, made all the arrangements for the avenue.
Some disappointment is expressed at the fact that all the trees planted on Saturday were all elms which a lot of people class as one of the very worst trees for street or avenue planting on account pf the millions of suckers that will grow up. It was proposed at first to plant the avenue with Australia flowering gums. These were disallowed by the Broadmeadows Council on the ground that the evergreen trees would keep the road too wet. The idea is strongly opposed by horticulturists who claim that evergreens keep the ground much drier than deciduous trees like elms. Besides there is very little sentiment in planting foreign trees in honor of Australian soldiers.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 5 June 1919
(From a Correspondent)
Wallan Men’s Club
It was agreed to have the honor avenue on the Sydney road completed on Arbor Day, about 20 more trees being required.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 12 August 1920
From a Correspondent
The Broadmedows Shire Council has decided that the memorial cairns, which are to be erected in connection with the soldiers’ honor avenue, shall be erected at the site originally chosen by the Wallan Young Men’s Club, at the junction of the Station and Sydney roads. The club instituted and carried through the planting of the avenue, but the site of the two memorial cairns was the cause of a good deal of local discussion, some residents wanted them erected in front of the Wallan public hall, whilst one or two wanted the cairns put up in the cemetery. The avenue has been planted with elms, and this has caused more dissatisfaction than anything else, as most people would have preferred that the avenue should have been planted with flowering gums, which are among the most beautiful trees in existence.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 25 August 1921
From a Correspondent
A Plain and Fancy Dress Ball, in aid of the Wallan Soldiers’ Memorial, was held in the Wallan East ball on Friday night, and was a pronounced and picturesque success. There was a very large attendance, and what was very pleasing to the promoters, a large number of handsome fancy costumes were worn. The fair sex, however, were far more numerous as wearers of fancy dresses than was mere man. The numerous bright costumes made a scene of gaiety and splendor, which easily eclipsed all previous similar functions in Wallan. The prizes for the best fancy costumes were awarded to Mr and Mrs Gymer, as an Indian Chief and Squaw. These two characters were excellently carried out, The prizes for the most original costume went to Mr D. McCarthy, as an Indian Rajah, and. Miss A. McCarthy, as Kismet. The judges must have had a hard job to award these prizes, as fully a dozen other competitors wore costumes of apparently equal merit. The list of fancy dresses is as follows :- Indian Squaw, Mrs. Gymer; Kismet, Miss A McCarthy; Britannia, Mrs R. Hill; Maid of the Harem, Mrs Lennox; All Nations, Mrs Coghill; Servian Lady, Mrs Lee; String of Beads, Mrs Tyrell; Red Cross Nurse, Mrs. Blackshaw; Queen of the Fairies, Mrs Burns; Golden Qoean, Miss Butler; Scotch lassie, Miss E. Macpherson; Rainbow, Miss E. Brooks; Chinese lady, Miss I. Johnston; Gipsy, Miss N. Stanley; Jonquil, Miss Payne; Italian Peasant, Miss F. Minchin; Indian Princess, Miss H. Stanley; Star of Hope, Miss A. McDougall; Aussie’s Emblem, Miss A. Grills; Indian Chief, Mr E. W. Gymer; Indian Rajah, Mr D. McCarthy; Golliwog,- Mr R. McDougall; Miss McGinty, as Spring; Mr R. Hill, Flower Girl, Mr J. Grills. These two last characters added a touch of humor to the ball. Mr Dwyer (Beveridge) officiated as M.C. Miss McKay (Donnybrook) supplied the music. The catering was supplied by Mr G. Rath, of North Melbourne, and Cr Hadfield awarded the prizes to the prize winners. The secretarial arrangements were carried out by Misses I Johnston and A. McCarthy, and both young ladies are to be complimented on the night’s success.
The Argus – Thursday, 23 March 1922
Tenders – The Committee of Wallan Soldiers’ Memorial invite designs and estimates, ranging from 100 pounds to 300 pounds for the erection of a Suitable Monument in the town of Wallan. Particulars to be in the hands of the secretary by March 31. No design or tender necessarily accepted. W Munro, Hon Secretary, Wallan.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 6 April 1922
Broadmeadows Shire Council
From W J Munro, seeking permission to erect a soldiers’ memorial at Wallan.
Cr Minchin said 2 cairns were up; since then a new committee had been formed and it was agreed to raise money to erect a suitable monumental stone and place it at south corner of the public hall where it would be an ornament. The present committee would continue to beautify the trees and work on Sydney road: be moved that permission be granted. Cr Hadfield having seconded the motion.
The President said it was no use fixing the matter to-day until the site was definitely decided. Cr Hadfield said it was agreed by the committee, and the other was done by the Young Mens’ Club. Cr Minchin said what was wanted was, if the committee decided to erect where stated, leave of Council be obtained – if necessary to put memorial on the line of tree guards was required, and the motion was then put and carried.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 5 October 1922
Wallan Soldiers’ Memorial
To the Editor Kilmore Free Press
The memorial stone to be erected at Wallan in honor of the soldiers who took part in the war is nearing completion and will be ready for erection about the end of October. It is a very fine stone and reflects credit on the contractors, Messrs A and G Henderson, of North Carlton. The Wallan committee has collected something more than 110 pounds – the price of the stone – but requires about 25 pounds more to complete the job; that is to put a fence worthy of the stone around it and provide for minor details. For the purpose of raising the 25 pounds the committee is organising a concert to be held in Wallan public hall on Friday evening, 13th instant that is next Friday week. Mr William MacLeod and myself are arranging for performers from Melbourne and we expect to provide a very high class entertainment of all metropolitan artists, including Miss Lilian Hopten, the famous monologist; Mr Nutting, a leading conjuror and parlor entertainer, and Mr Wilkinson, who is well known as a humorous singer and reciter. As the whole affair is being carried through gratuitously = motor cars and all – it should be a great success. Will you kindly join in the effort and lend us your powerful aid by giving the matter prominence in your column. If you care to do so you can publish this letter. In view of the length of the programme and the necessity of the performers returning to Melbourne by car that night, the concert will commence at 8 o’clock sharp. Thanking you in anticipation, I am, etc – F J C Minchin, 44 Scott Street, Essendon.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 7 December 1922
Wallan Soldiers Memorial
From a Correspondent
An assemblage of about 300 persons gathered on the Sydney road on Saturday afternoon to witness the unveiling of the Wallan Soldiers’ Memorial, which takes the form of a grey granite monolith on a bluestone base. The monument is situated in front of Wallan public hall and in line with one of the rows of trees which formed the avenue of honor planted by the Wallan Men’s Club three years ago in memory of the Wallan district soldiers. The monument contains the names of 53 soldiers who enlisted from Wallan. On the front fall of the Column there is inscribed “For God, King, and Country. Erected by the residents in honor of the men of the Wallan riding who served in the Great War, 1914-1919. Lest we forget” On the north side, under the heading “In memoriam,” there follow the names of those who made the supreme sacrifice :- J Bourke, G Clarke, W Hargrave, H Lewis, E Morely, W Munro, A Quirk, R Randall, F Rowe, L Smith, W Stockdale, W Stute. On the south and eastern sides of the monolith the names of the remaining soldiers have been inscribed. These are A J Anderson, J Brennan, H Brooks, T Cahill, C Christoffersen, N Christoffersen, R Crawley, R Cummins, P Cummins, J Cummins, J Cummins, W Cummins, A Dickens, C Easton, L Easton, L Grieves, R Hadfield, W Hadfield, A J Holmes, D C Holmes, H H Holmes, S T Holmes, J Humphries, J Inglis, S Lambie, Jas Lewis, John Lewis, D F McCarthy, H Munro, E S Nurse, H Nurse, A Patton, A Pratt, J Roberston, V Ryan, A Skurrie, S Speirs, J Smith, W Smith, R Stanley, B Stockdale, P Stockdale.
About 4 pm ex-Cr P C Minchin, chairman of the memorial committee, mounted the platform and said he was glad to see such a large attendance on such a memorable occasion. The committee extended grateful thanks to all who assisted so enthusiastically to have the monument erected. The task of the committee was made very easy through the whole-hearted support of the residents of the district who came forward so freely with their liberal donations of paper and silver currency. He hoped that the residents would be pleased with the memorial trifling though it may be when they considered trifling though it may be when they considered the sacrifices made by the men whose names were engraved upon the stone. He apologised for the absence of Hon. W Angliss, M.L.C., Hon. A. R. Ropertson, M.L.A., Cr McLean, president of Broadmeadows shire, who was prevented by illness, and Rev. Father Gleeson, of Kilmore..who had met with a very serious accident. Mr Minchin then called upon Brigadier-General Elliot to unveil the memorial.
The National Anthem was then sung and Brigadier-General Elliot then stepped forward and removed the Union Jack from the memorial. He said he thought it a very great privilege to unveil the handsome memorial, erected as a tribute of honor to the men of the district who answered their country’s call and faced death and mutilation in the endeavor to keep their country free. The answer to the call from the Motherland was also the payment of a debt of gratitude to Britain and that was why hundreds of thousands of young men went thousands of miles across the sea to the assistance of the old country. At the outbreak of war a young Australian, barely more than a schoolboy, wrote a few grand lines known to everybody, commencing-
“The bugles of. England are calling over the sea, Calling now to me.”
The men did great tasks and made many sacrifices and in the fighting all through, Gallipoli, France and other places deeds were performed by Australian soldiers that rivalled any exploit in the annuls of history. The. Swiss patriot, Arnold Wenklefield, who gathered numerous Austrian spears into his own body so that his men could break the Austrian square some centuries ago, had an Australian prototype on Gallipoli, who, on the person of a young Australian officer, sprang into a Turkish trench and had eight bayonets thrust into his body, but his sacrifice made it possible for the attacking battalion to capture the Turkish trench. When we look back, said General Elliot, it seems that so little was accomplished as to make some of us think were all the tremendous sacrifices worth while. Probably the same thoughts occurred to the disciples on the morning after Calvary, but the progress of civilisation depended upon that great tragedy. Likewise the freedom of Australia depended upon the great sacrifices at Anzac and on the fields of France.
The Chairman. then called upon Mrs Stockdale, mother of the first Wallan soldier to fall, to place a wreath with the red and blue battalion colors on the monument, and the pupils of Wallan school sang Unfurl the Flag.
Hon. W. L.. R. Clarke, M.L.C., gave a neat and telling speech, and was followed by Rev. Mr Crocker, who put in a strong plea for the returned soldier and appealed to the gathering to never turn a returned man down.
Cr D. McBain briefly referred to the memoriam side of the monument and also to the work of the Wallan Men’s Club in planting the avenue, each tree of which, was in honor of a Walian boy who answered his country’s call.
The buglers then sounded the Last Post and the flag was lowered to half mast for a minute, then hoisted again and the children sang Our Native Land.
Mr Minchin then formally handed over the memorial to the residents of the district, and the usual votes of thanks terminated the ceremony.
All present were entertained at afternoon tea in Wallan hall by the ladies of the district.
Kilmore Free Press – Thursday, 19 August 1948
Matters of local interest in the districts of the shire were dealt with at the Broadmeadows Shire Council meeting on July 29.
Wallan Country Women’s Association applied to the Council for a donation towards the cost of having lettering on the war memorial done in lead at a cost of 40 pounds. In reply to a question Cr Hadfield said the two cairns erected as a memorial were dismantled and the stones used for filling scours. Cr Hadfield and Cr Laffan moved that the Council contribute 20 pounds to this lettering and the motion was past.
Kilmore Free Press – 11 November 1948
C W A Activities
Wallan Annual Meeting
The Branch is contributing to the cost of re-lettering the Wallan War Memorial with lead letters, half the cost of this work is being met by the Broadmeadows Shire Council.
From experience, there are always spelling variations of names recorded on World War One Honour Rolls and War Memorials. There can also be differences between a name on a birth entry and a person’s WWI service documents. This makes present day researching a challenge. From the list below it can be seen that one soldier, V Ryan, has not been able to be identified in the Army records.
Also the area where the names are inscribed on the Wallan War Memorial has been “cleaned up” over time. The most recent renovation resulted in the addition of four new black marble tablets, and in doing this several spelling variations occurred. The original engraving of the names probably still remains under the marble tablets.
In relation to the two cairns that were built in the early 1920s, it would seem unlikely that the proposed tablets were installed. The stones used to build the cairns were removed years later and used for road maintenance. No record was found of a list of names allocated to particular trees.
A little mystery – look at the 1925 image of the War Memorial and note the siting of the Memorial in relation to the Hall in the background. Also note the height of the four stone posts around the memorial. Now go to the top photo of the Memorial. The height of the posts has changed. Have a look at the photo in the article World War One – the height of the posts has been reduced. This probably happened when the Memorial was moved. Now look at the top photo on this page and the height of the posts has again been reduced. Why? Perhaps when doing the recent renovations, the whole site has been filled to make a better slope towards the road so as to allow rain water to run towards the road. Or was the height of the posts reduced?
There appears to be spelling differences (as indicated in brackets) between the first list (as recorded above) and the present names on the War Memorial. There are some differences in spelling, Dickens/Dickins, Ingles/Inglis, Randall/Randell,f the posts is lower.Christopherson/Christoffersen, Grieves/Greaves. Against each name is information extracted from the National Archives of Australia website.
Wallan War Memorial
KING AND COUNTRY
BY THE RESIDENTS
OF THE MEN OF
WHO SERVED IN THE
LEST WE FORGET
Bourke J Bourke, James Archibald, SN 885, 7th Batt, KIA
Clarke C (Clarke G) Clark, Henry George, SN 2608, 29th Batt, KIA
Hargrave W Hargrave, Walter Mannix, Garrison Artillery, DOS
Lewis H Lewis, Henry, SN 3842, 8th Batt, KIA
Morley E Morley, Edwin Joseph, SN 3190, 60th Batt, KIA
Munro W Munro, William Arthur, SN 2726, 58th Batt, KIA
Quirk A Quirk, Andrew, SN 2749, 24th Batt, KIA
Randall R Randell, Richard Thomas, SN 1456, 8th Light Horse Reg, KIA
Rowe F Rowe, Frederick, SN 5088, 22nd Batt, KIA
Smith L Smith, Leslie Walter, SN 5452, 4th Batt, KIA
Stockdale W Stockdale, William Hallett, SN 990, 6th Batt, KIA
Stute W Stute, William Charles James, SN 2567, 46th Batt, KIA
Anderson A J Anderson, Albert Joseph, SN 2108, 21st Batt
Brennan J Brennan, Joseph Bernard, SN 15859, 5th Field Ambulance
Brooks H Brooks, William Henry, SN 64163, 15th Light Horse Reg
Cahill T Cahill, Thomas Emmanuel, SN 2586, 58th Batt
Christopherson C (Christoffersen C) Christoffersen, Christopher, MM, SN 230, 2nd Anzac Mounted Reg
Christopherson N (Christoffersen N) Christoffersen, Norman Henry, SN 1548, 4th Light Horse Reg
Crawley R Crawley, Rupert Quinton, SN 68779, 15th G S Reinforcements
Cummins B Cummins, Bryan Anthony, SN 5994, 7th Batt
Cummins J Cummins, John Joseph, SN 1624, 3rd Pioneer Batt
Cummins P Cummins, Patrick Thomas, SN 16834, 37th Batt
Cummins W Cummins, William Joseph, MM, SN 5993, 7th Batt
Dickens A Dickins, Alfred James, SN 1738, 6th Batt
Easton C Easton, Charles Leslie, SN 6800, 22nd Batt
Easton L Easton, Ormond Leonard, SN 20079, 15th Depot Supply Unit
Grieves L Greaves, Norman Leslie, MM, SN 2642, 24th Batt
Hadfield R Hadfield Ralph Begbie, SN 529, 16th Batt
Hadfield W Hadfield, William John, SN 15409, 3rd Light Horse Reg
Holmes A J Holmes, Alexander Josiah, SN 1202, 37th Batt
Holmes D C Holmes, David Cuthbert, SN 1204, 37th Batt
Holmes H H Holmes, Henry Herbert, SN 1203, 37th Batt
Holmes S T Holmes, Sydney Turnbull, SN 1201, 37th Batt
Humphries J Humphries, Joseph Henry, SN 4654, 60th Batt, KIA
Ingles J (Inglis J) Inglis, James, SN 3850, 23rd Batt
Lambie S Lambie, Thomas Stanley, SN 1028, 4th Light Horse Brigade
Lewis Jas Lewis, James Marquis, SN 1083, 9th Light Horse Reg
Lewis J Lewis, John Charles, MM, SN 1228, 38th Batt
McCarthy D F McCarthy, David Felix, SN 2688, 58th Batt
Munro H Munro, Hugh Innes, SN 2730, 58th Batt
Nurse E S Nurse, Edwin Scott, Midshipman, Royal Australian Navy
Nurse H Nurse, Henry Scott, Lieut, 8th Field Artillery Brigade
Patton A Patton, Alfred Theodore, SN 728, 8th Batt
Pratt A Pratt, Albert Henry George, SN 47, 2nd Div Ammunition Column
Roberston J Robertson, John, SN 7566, 6th Batt
Skurrie A Skurrie, Archibald Strang, SN 1509, 13th Field Artillery Brigade
Speirs S Speirs, Stanley Alan, SN 72235, Depot
Smith J Smith, Christopher John, SN 1347, 24th Batt
Smith W Smith, William Robert, SN 1147, 24th Batt
Stanley R Stanley, Rupert, SN 2400, 37th Batt
Stockdale B Stockdale, Bryan, SN 1439, 10th Light Horse Reg
Stockdale P Stockdale, Peregrine Joseph, SN, 2934, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
Laurence Binyon 1914