Community collects soil to commemorate soldiers of World War I

Alexander George Bates (right) awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Cross.

Alexander George Bates (right) awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Cross.

A new state project will see soldiers from across the state commemorated in the lead up to the Centenary of Anzac.

Out of the 1699 soil samples, 31 was collected in recognition of the men and women who served in World War I across the district. 

When news of the Anzac Memorial Centenary Project Soil Collection was announced last year members of the Crookwell R.S.L sub-branch, friends, and Upper Lachlan Shire Council (ULSC) staff worked together the collect soil samples.

Soil from Dalton, Gunning, Laggan and Crookwell will be added to the glass phial and stand alongside a memorial register. 

“ULSC is honoured to be included in the Anzac Memorial Centenary Project soil collection program. When complete, the artwork will be a fitting tribute to the local men and women who enlisted for service in the First World War,” ULSC general manager John Bell said. 

Mr Bell thanked R.S.L sub-branch member Malcolm Barlow, who coordinated the collection, for his “drive and determination”.

“[He] has ensured that the contributions of our local servicemen and women will be enshrined for generations to come,” Mr Bell said. 

R.S.L sub branch member Malcolm Barlow, ULSC Mayor Brian McCormack, Kevin King
 and General Manager John Bell.

R.S.L sub branch member Malcolm Barlow, ULSC Mayor Brian McCormack, Kevin King and General Manager John Bell.

According to Crookwell at War there were many stories from those who served during World War I, one is of Sergeant Alexander George Bates who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Cross.

This was due to his quick decision making in constructing trenches to connect to the 54th and 53rd Battalions against Germans in 1916, and his leadership when capturing seven enemies with a party of 20 in 1918.

Mr Barlow thanked the support of the community over the past few weeks. “It is a free country today because of what those young men sacrificed, that should never be forgotten,” he said. 

Crookwell resident Jim Gay, whose father served in World War I, said this new state initiative was great for the district and descendants of those who had fallen. 

Stationed in France, his father Walder Fredrick Gay, nicknamed Kanga, enlisted in 1915.

Early in the war Gay was hospitalised after a bullet grazed the back of his neck, only to return to war weeks later. 

Mr Gay, who was 24 when his father died, wished he has asked more questions prior to his father’s death in 1964 but still carries his stories close to him today. 

The Anzac memorial upgrade is set to be completed this year. 

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