Remembrance Day, November 11 each year, is the day we remember and pay tribute to our Australian soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen who did not return home from their service for our country. It’s the day the Great War armistice was signed, 101 years ago.
Memorials fulfil our need to recognise, remember and learn about the profound losses of war. The memories of service personnel from the Sunshine Coast are captured in memorials throughout the community. Memorials serve as a place where we can remember their lives, honour their service and leave a tribute.
During the Boer War 1899-1902, men from the Sunshine Coast may have enlisted in the 5th Light Horse Regiment in Brisbane. Their memories live on in the proud tradition of the 5th Light Horse Historical Troop located in Maleny. Memorials dedicated to those who fought and died in the Boer War include a stone slab at the Nambour Garden Cemetery War Memorial and the tall stone memorial at the Mudjimba War Memorial.
On August 5, 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and Australians stood behind their government in offering unreserved assistance. Prime Minister Fisher vowed that Australia would “stand beside our own to help and defend Britain to the last man and last shilling,” which was prophetic on both counts.
During and following World War I, the people of Maleny wanted to create a memorial to the young men who had enlisted from the district. Money was donated by the community and the first subscribers meeting was held on March 20, 1920 and the Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital was opened as a private hospital on August 1, 1920. All returned men and women who served in World War I were treated without charge.
The sandstone gates at Montville Hall are unique in that the young men who volunteered, but were rejected for service under the exceptionally high standards for selection, are listed under the unfortunate choice of the word “Rejects”. These young men did not want the stigma of cowardice for themselves or their families, so formed an association and wore a badge to show that they had volunteered.
In Landsborough, the Landsborough Shire Council had specially designed memorial gates constructed to stand at the entrance to the Landsborough Peace Park on the Landsborough-Maleny Road.
The Great War Memorial in Nambour is an Egyptian obelisk with a pyramid shaped top erected in Coronation Avenue in 1927. In ancient times the obelisk was a symbol sacred to the Sun-god and being buried under a pyramid was regarded as the greatest token of respect that could be paid. The names of those who enlisted from the Maroochy Shire were written on parchment, sealed in a metal container and buried in the shaft at the back of a marble slab with the inscription “Their name liveth for evermore”. Due to traffic conditions, a replica of the memorial was erected in Quota Memorial Park, Matthew Street, and dedicated in 1993.
It was reported that a loyal demonstration took place at Yandina on June 7, 1924 when the Senator, Major-General Sir Wm Glasgow visited to unveil and dedicate a memorial to those who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the war. The memorial was subscribed to by the residents of Yandina and district and was the largest gathering ever seen in Yandina at that time. Sir William then unveiled the memorial saying “this stone is in memory of the dead, to commemorate the deeds of the living, and to remind us of the duty to King and Empire.” A marble tablet was added to the memorial to commemorate those who lost their lives in World War II.
The memorial trees planted along Anzac Avenue, Beerburrum are a visual remembrance and while many memorial avenues were planted by Queensland communities, the Beerburrum memorial trees are the only memorial in Queensland that was initiated by returned servicemen of a soldier settlement in honour of their fallen comrades.
The first tree in the avenue was planted by General Birdwood when he visited the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement on May 17, 1920 and on August 1, 1920, under the supervision of the settlers, 33 school children planted 17 weeping figs, 56 Washington Palms and 4 pine trees.
A meeting convened by the Caloundra Branch of the RSSAILA on March 31, 1947 considered establishing a soldier’s memorial. After considerable discussion is was decided to build a granite obelisk at Wickham Point.
It was asked at the time, why build a memorial at Caloundra Headland? Why not in the main business centre? It was reported that to these questions one answer was obvious – where would it be possible to have a better site than on the Headland? Here it would look out upon the wide ocean over the dark blue waters beloved by the men of our community. Airmen were lost off the Headland in encounters with enemy submarines and HMA Hospital Ship “Centaur” was torpedoed off the Headland in May 1943.
There are many memorials across the Coast symbolising how war has touched our community. Not all are stone and marble, there are the honour boards, naming of streets, sporting events and plaques and numerous others, but the most enduring are the memories living within families who still grieve the loss of a loved one and whose memories are enshrined in the photographs, letters and stories retold.
Lest We Forget.
It is not only for ourselves that we have erected this visible remembrance of great deeds, but rather that those who come after us and have not experienced the horrors of war, or realised the wanton destruction and utter futility of it all, may be inspired to devise some better means to settle international disputes other than by international carnage.
His Excellency, the Governor Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven, at the unveiling of the South Australian National War Memorial, 25 April 1931.
Thanks to the Heritage Library for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images