THE Home Hill Sub-Branch of the RSL has completed a major project of its own making, with a World War I Dedication Ceremony held on Saturday, August 26 to mark 41 grave sites in the Home Hill Cemetery with commemorative headstones and bronze service plaques.
The Sub-Branch planned the ceremony to commemorate those who had been laid to rest in the Home Hill cemetery who had served, particularly in the Boer War and World War I and who had no recognition as a War Service grave site.
Funding for the project came from The Department of Veterans Affairs, the RSL North Queensland and the Home Hill RSL.
Home Hill RSL Sub-Branch President, Richard Kelly told the crowd at the Dedication Ceremony that some years ago, one of their members, Allan Petersen, while collecting information for a book he was writing, came across War Graves in their local cemetery which were not respectfully recognised as War Service Grave sites.
Mr Kelly said that 56 grave sites had no identification as War Serviceman’s graves.
“There were 25 that had no indication of a burial site – just covered with lawn and appeared to be vacant plots, 16 had a family monument, but no recognition of a War Serviceman’s grave.
There were also 15 British soldiers, who came to Home Hill during and after the war and due to war-related illnesses, died and were laid to rest in our local cemetery,” Mr Kelly told those at the ceremony.
He said “a lot of hours” had been spent by Mr Petersen collecting the Diggers’ names, rank, serial numbers and where they served in the Army, Navy or Air Force.
“Together with Wayne Saldumbide and his secretary from the Burdekin Shire Council, Allan and myself went over the information, making sure it was correct before ordering the plaques,” he said.
“Once the information was correct, some of the RSL members had a working bee to mark out where all the War Veterans grave sites were located.
“The cement bases were moulded by Sub-Branch members, while local undertaker contractor, Ken Wright supplied the polished headstones and bronze plaques.
“The installation of all the plaques was a combined effort of two students from the High School, Ken Wright and Sub-Branch members,” Mr Kelly said.
The RSL Sub-Branch President told the gathering at the ceremony that it had taken a few years, with a lot of effort and hard work to complete their project.
“We are all honoured as members of the Home Hill RSL to have had the opportunity to
complete this project for the community of Home Hill.”
“We pay our respects to our Fallen Diggers,” he said.
All the dedicated grave sites are marked by an Australian Flag.
Also participating in the Dedication Ceremony were the RSL Padre, Andrew Baildon, who thanked the RSL Sub-Branch for the development of the memorial sites, while the members of the Home Hill Choral Society had entertained with hymns during the afternoon.
A special guest at the ceremony was Graham Gilmore, a grandson of World War I veteran, Frank Gilmore and a representative of the Gilmore Families, said he was born in Home Hill as he thanked the RSL Sub-Branch members for their efforts, while RSL State Vice President, Bill Whitburn OAM gave “Special Thanks” to Allan Petersen for his efforts in writing a book about the war veterans.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Guest of Honour, Lt Col Dave Silverstone, CSC of the 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, from Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Wilcox, State Member for Burdekin, Dale Last.
The ceremony also included the laying of wreaths and the playing of The Last Post and Revellie while the Burdekin Brass Band played the National Anthem.