By Jackson Russell
The Kilmore-Wallan RSL sub-branch commemorated a Remembrance Day like no other by rededicating the Kilmore War Memorial during a service on Wednesday.
A small crowd turned out for the unadvertised service, with people spreading themselves throughout Hudson Park, all adhering to social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.
In a joint effort between the Kilmore-Wallan RSL and Kilmore Historical Society, 23 new names of those from the area that lost their lives in World War One were added to a blank wall on the western side of the cenotaph.
The names were previously unknown to the RSL and historical society and did not appear on any memorials or honour rolls but were uncovered during research for a series of stories in the Review about fallen soldiers to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Great War.
Kilmore-Wallan RSL president Rod Dally said the project was funded by a State Government grant with some assistance from Mitchell Shire Council.
“Because you pay by the letter, it was in the order of nearly $29,000 to get them printed, made up and installed,” he said.
“We got a grant from the State Government with the help of council. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened.”
The completion of the war memorial came in time for the 100th anniversary of the Kilmore War Memorial and the Kilmore-Wallan RSL sub-branch next year.
Mr Dally said it was a great feeling to finally have the memorial completed.
“I’m really pleased because it was a blank wall and we had several designs laid out before we came across the names,” he said.
“It was the actually the images of the three services – Army, Navy and Air Force – then these names came up and we thought, ‘you ripper’, so we finished it.”
Kilmore Historical Society research officer Grahame Thom said the discovery of the additional names was a by-product of writing more than 300 profiles on fallen soldiers over four years.
“You’ve got to go back and realise how the names were collected in the first place,” he said.
“There was a drive right across Australia to recognise soldiers who went to war and the local communities formed committees to collect those names.
“It was a matter of just asking the community if they knew of somebody who went to World War One, somebody putting their hand up and saying their son or their nephew did and giving the committee the details and that’s how the memorials and honour rolls were produced.”
Mr Thom said the system meant there were names unfortunately left off memorials, cenotaphs and honour rolls when people connected to the area left and lost touch with the community.
“Today, we’ve got access to lots of records now through the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,” he said.
Mr Dally said he was pleased the RSL was able to commemorate Remembrance Day.
“The turnout was terrific at both Wallan and Kilmore, everybody I saw certainly maintained social distancing and wore face masks, they didn’t crowd in the memorial and spread themselves out across both parks,” he said.
“I’m really pleased with the way the servicews went off without breaking any rules or laws around safety.”