Armistice Day centenary events in Walcha

LEST WE FORGET: Part of the display at the Walcha Ex-Services Club
LEST WE FORGET: Part of the display at the Walcha Ex-Services Club

Walcha residents will stop for one minute this Sunday to mark  the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War. On 11 am on November 11, 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous brutal warfare.

A ceremony will take place at the Walcha Memorial from 10.30am followed by a lunch at the Ex Services Club where a gallery of artwork produced by local school children to mark the centenary will be on show.

Leanne Presnell of the Walcha Ex-Services Memorial Club said the Walcha Ex-Services Memorial Club contacted the local schools in the shire to make a display commemorating the event .

I thought it was vitally important to get the community involved in Remembrance Day this year

Leanne Presnell

“I thought it was vitally important to get the community involved in Remembrance Day this year,” Ms Presnell said.

“By working with the local schools, pre-school and family day carers it highlights to the children the sacrifices made on our behalf, by our soldiers past, present and future. Children were also asked to participate in a colouring in competition and poetry competition for high school students.”

 Winners of the competition will be announced at the club on Sunday following the Remembrance Day services.

“Vicki McIvor will be providing a light luncheon for five dollars per head and we invite the public to come view all the children’s hard efforts following the service,” Ms Presnell said.

“We look forward to seeing as many people as possible on Sunday at the service and following the service at the Walcha Ex-Services Club.”

One of the children's competition entries

One of the children's competition entries

Walcha Historical Society member Nerida Hoy had a message for the community.

Let us pause to think about the sacrifice of the volunteer men and women and the huge impact on our country and our town of Walcha

Nerida Hoy

“As we remember the armistice and ceasing of hostilities in World War 1 on November 11, 1918 at 11 am, let us pause to think about the sacrifice of the volunteer men and women and the huge impact on our country and our town of Walcha,” she said.

“The actual Peace Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 June 1919. Those who survived began returning home each with different experiences which scarred many physically and mentally for the rest of their life. “

Mrs Hoy related the tale of one Walcha member of the Flying Corps who survived the fighting but didn’t make it home. 

“John William Noel Fitzpatrick, MM, a grazier of Aberbaldie Station, embarked for Australia on February 8, 1919 per HMAT A11 'Ascanius'.but was admitted to hospital at Gibraltar on February 14,” Mrs Hoy said.

“He died on  16 th February 1919 from double pneumonia and advanced toxaemia and was buried at Gibraltar Cemetery (Row A, grave 4341). This surely was an early case of the Spanish Flu which spread worldwide.”

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson encouraged local communities to pay their respects to Australia’s servicemen and servicewomen and observe a minute’s silence at 11am this Sunday.

It is vital we commemorate the service and sacrifice made by our veterans.

Kevin Anderson

“At 11am on 11 November 1918, fighting was suspended and there were huge celebrations across the world,” he said.

“This Sunday, 100 years later our community will come together again to reflect on the events which shaped our history. It is vital we commemorate the service and sacrifice made by our veterans.”

The First World War remains Australia’s most devastating war resulting in 60,000 deaths and 156,000 wounded, gassed or captured – many from regional areas.

“Many stayed over there and we will remember their sacrifice. Of those people who returned home the dreadfulness of the conflict was often bottled up inside.

“This Sunday I encourage everyone, no matter where you are, to take a minute to pause and commemorate brave servicemen and servicewomen from every country who lost their lives in war and armed conflicts,” Mr Anderson concluded.