Sacrifice not forgotten by seaside community

THEY GAVE THEIR ALL: 100 years after the laying of the memorial's foundation stone, Port MacDonnell remembers the soldiers that gave their lives in the service of their country. Picture: Phillip Simpson.

By Leon Georgiou

A SERVICE will be held at Port MacDonnell War Memorial on Sunday to commemorate the centenary of the laying of the memorial’s foundation stone.

The ceremony, scheduled for 12pm, will be held at the memorial, which acknowledges the sacrifice of soldiers from Port MacDonnell, Mount Schank and Allendale East that died while serving their country.

The Reverend Dr Murray Earl said while he believed the meaning and purpose of Australia’s war memorials – and their significance within society – had changed over time, Sunday’s service would focus on remembrance.

“I think that’s basically what we’re doing Sunday, is that we’re giving remembrance to the cost of World War I on a society like Port MacDonnell and small communities. And in the passage of time, it’s changed, and yet it has stayed the same as well. That’s what we’re trying to capture,” Dr Earl said.

Built in 1921 to commemorate the soldiers that died during World War I, the Port MacDonnell memorial later expanded to include the names of the fallen that took part in World War II and Vietnam.

One hundred years on, it is difficult to comprehend the impact of World War I on Australian society.

It remains the costliest war – in terms of casualties – that Australia has participated in and left a visibly evident sense of loss within many communities, both large and small.

“So, within the context of Australian society, [the memorial] wasn’t so much about the victory, it was to somehow recognise the one in five who died, and that was the shock that affected Australian society,” Dr Earl said.

“A lot of troops still were not home by 1921. And so, the kind of missing was very prominent in people’s minds… and so for Port MacDonnell, of all places, to get a memorial up by 1921, just signifies how important it was to the local community that some reference point needed to be identified, to acknowledge the price that was paid by Port MacDonnell’s society.”

Construction of the Port MacDonnell War Memorial started on June 13, 1921, at a cost of around £200.

The Chairman (of the then) District Council of Port MacDonnell, Mr R. C. Hayman, laid the foundation stone.

The memorial was completed and officially unveiled 10 days later on June 23, 1921 by Colonel F. H. Howland.

The Port MacDonnell community has kept vigil over this sacred place ever since.