Port MacDonnell war memorial expansion to honour fallen

HISTORIC UPGRADES: Port Macdonnell and District RSL Sub-Branch president Wayne Manser (far right) celebrates the progression of the groups’ final project before its closure with secretary Leonie Feast, committee member Ted Habner, treasurer Jan Cullen-Habner and vice president Phillip Simpson.

By Raquel Mustillo

FOR almost 100 years, the Port MacDonnell and District RSL sub-branch has honoured men and women who have served, fought and fallen to maintain the freedoms Australians have today.

Before the doors shut at the much-loved sub-branch for the final time, members will undertake a major beautification project on the coastal town’s war memorial.

The small but dedicated group will commemorate the memorials’ centennial in 2021 with a new area and garden on Sea Parade to recognise those who paid the supreme sacrifice in Australian theatres of war.

Port MacDonnell and District RSL Sub-Branch president Wayne Manser hoped the project will be finished by the 100-year anniversary of the memorial on June 13, 2021.

“We are an ageing club and it has been very, very hard to keep the sub-branch going, but we can’t do it anymore,” he said.

“It is sad we can’t get members for the club, but we can get people to attend the Dawn Service on Anzac Day.

“The new garden will keep an RSL presence in the town after we are gone and it will be a place for people to pay their respects.

“Future generations need to know the local history and we think the new area is a good way to do it.”

Grant District Council will provide $10,000 for the project, the recently closed Eight Mile Creek Hall Committee has pledged to provide funding towards the redevelopment.

“Eight Mile Creek is an old settler history area and their history is reflected in Port MacDonnell,” Mr Manser said.

The project includes removing the soldier’s plaques from under the trees on Sea Parade and relocating them to the memorial area, moving the bomb on the grassed Custom House lawn area closer to the memorial and removing the wooden fence.

A black granite structure with the crests of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force above the text ‘Lest We Forget’ will also be installed at the site.

The upgrades will complement the existing granite obelisk originally unveiled to commemorate the fallen of WWI, but has since included those who died in service or were killed in action in WWII and the Vietnam War.