OTD: Unveiling of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial, 11 Nov. 1926

#OnThisDay – In 1926 #OTD the community gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial in Memorial Park, at Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground.

This uncommon and picturesque war memorial, which affords an excellent view of the surrounding district was unveiled by His Excellency the Governor-General (Lord Stonehaven). The tower was constructed of stone obtained in the Eltham district, and given to the memorial fund by Professor Osborne.

Shire of Eltham, Soldiers’ War Memorial, unveiled 11-11-26, Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground (Photo: Tom Prior, c.1926; Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection, No. 406; held in partnership between Eltham District Historical Society @elthamhistory and @YarraPlentyRegionalLibrary (ELtham Library) and the Reynolds-Prior collection held by EDHS). This image was also used on a postcard and in news reports published in The Argus (13 Nov. 1296, p33) and the Advertiser (19 Nov. 1926, p3). Note the unfinished slate-stones at base and Honour Roll not yet erected.

As reported in the Advertiser the next day:

“Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground, presented a unique scene yesterday afternoon, inasmuch as 1500 people attended to pay tribute to the silent soldiers of the Great War, and at the same time Nature presented to them, in perfect sunshine, one of the most glorious panoramic views to be seen in the Commonwealth. The unveiling ceremony of the memorial tower, erected through the efforts of the Shire of Eltham War Memorial League, is to commemorate the memory of the fallen soldiers who enlisted from the shire.

A Guard of Honor was formed by the school children from Eltham, Panton Hill, Hurstbridge, Kangaroo Ground, Research and Queenstown, as His Excellency the Governor-General and Lady  Stonehaven approached the tower, when the National Anthem was sung, followed by the hymn, “O God our help in ages past.” Chaplain Green, of St. Martin’s, Hawkesburn, offered up a thanksgiving and prayer, dedicating the monument to the glory of those who laid down their lives for others.

Kipling’s “Recessional” was then sung, Mrs D. Rodger being organist.

Sir Wm. Irvine said he had been asked, as a resident of the shire of Eltham, to welcome their Excellencies, but they were so well known as to hardly require an introduction in any part of the Commonwealth. From where they stood they could see a large part of the shire, and all felt deep gratitude to those who fell in the Great War.

The Governor-General, in a very impressive address, said there was no more appropriate day to unveil a memorial than Armistice Day. It is a day that brings home to us the realities of the Empire, and from the time the people in Melbourne commenced that morning to pay tribute to God, when the people of the Old Country were asleep, there would be celebrations at every hour of the day in different parts of the Empire. The magnitude of the sacrifice was not, and could not, be fully realised. We live under such free institutions that we do not recognise it until we are in danger. What would our position be if the war had ended differently ? Let us not forget the sacrifice the men made, nobly supported by the women of the Empire. The memorial is worthy of the great memory of the dead,  which it seeks to celebrate-a plain, strong, simple tower, typical of the men we are reminded of. It is to be hoped Armistice Day will continue to be celebrated, so that future generations will realise what they have to pay in their time to the State. By the glorious deeds of the men of this country history has been made, which started Australia off with the rest of the nations that contribute to the British Empire.

The Honor Board was then unveiled, disclosing over 70 names.

“Stand Fast” was sounded by Mr J. H. Page, of the Returned Soldiers’ Band, followed by two minutes’ silence, then “The Last Post” and “Reveille.”

The names of the fallen and a description of the tower will appear in next issue.

The reception committee entertained the Governor-General and
party to afternoon tea, after which they left amidst the cheers of the
people.”

Entrance to the Shire of Eltham Memorial Park, Garden Hill, Kangaroo Ground: carriageway from Eltham-Yarra Glen Road to top of Memorial Park; view to south-east, c.1923
References

1926 ‘Memorial to Fallen Soldiers.’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 12 November, p. 3. (AFTERNOON), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56660460

1926 ‘ELTHAM MEMORIAL TOWER’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 13 November, p. 33., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3820851

1926 ‘THE ELTHAM SHIRE WAR MEMORIAL TOWER.’, Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic. : 1922 – 1939), 19 November, p. 3. (AFTERNOON.), http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article56660470

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