Tumut remembers the fallen

Scott Crampton, Phil Bennetts, Bruce Brien and Tony Fenn at Tumut’s Remembrance Day service on Thursday.

A good crowd turned up to the Tumut Memorial in Richmond Park for yesterday’s Remembrance Day service.

Ray Lipscombe, a Vietnam veteran and Tumut Sub-Branch member, spoke to those gathered about the tremendous sacrifice made by Australian soldiers in World War I.

“The First World War was in its time the most destructive conflict yet experienced by humanity,” he said.

“Few imagined the course that it would take, or foresaw its terrible toll. From a population of just under five million, more than 400,000 Australians enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and more than 330,000 served overseas. For most this meant Gallipoli, the Middle East or the war’s main theatre, the western front in France and Belgium. More than 60,000 Australians lost their lives. 

When an armistice ended the fighting on November 11, 1918, celebrations in the victorious nations were tempered by grief and sorrow. In 1919 – and in every year since – at 11am on 11 November, we have paused to remember the dead.

“Australia’s dead lay in cemeteries and unmarked graves around the world, from New Britain in the South-West Pacific, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, the Sinai, Palestine and the United Kingdom. But nowhere on Earth do Australia’s war dead lie in greater numbers than in the soil of the western front in France and Belgium. In 1919, Britain’s King George V proclaimed two minutes of silence at 11am on 11 November,” Mr Lipscombe said.

“At the appointed hour, people around Australia have gathered before local memorials, paused together in common reflection, remembering the dead and beginning a tradition that has endured for more than a century. Long may it continue. 

“In time, Australia’s war memorials would come to honour the fallen of the Second World War and of the many other conflicts and operations in which Australians have served,” he said.

“Today the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour lists the names of more than 102,000 Australians who have lost their lives in war and conflict. As we pause on Remembrance Day, our thoughts turn to war’s enormous cost and the toll it takes. Not only on those who fall but on all who serve.

“Among the Australian Army dead were what are now called boy soldiers.

One such boy soldier was Private Walter Clarence Harris of the 19th Battalion AIF.

Walter was living and working as a bootmaker in Temora when he enlisted in March 1916.

“He was killed in action on May 3 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt. He is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. Walter was 16 years of age at enlistment, and 17 years of age when he died,” he said.

“For our local community, Tumut-born Walter Clarence Harris, like so many others, is all of them and he is one of us. Lest we forget.”