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Remembrance Day Address 2017 - Phil Robson

11 November 2017

Remembrance Day Address 2017
Phil Robson Former Honorary Curator Hall School Museum

On 11 November 1918 the guns were silenced and WW1 was over leaving over 61000 Australian men and women dead and 156000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. On this day each year we remember all the Australians who sacrificed their lives in all conflicts.

Today I would like to talk about our community and the effect the war had on it. Hall District is typical of many of the small rural districts where men who volunteered came from. From this district there were 39 men who went off to war and 3 that did not return, Morley Brown, Clyde Hollingsworth and Malcolm (Mack) Southwell. The Memorial Grove here is a living memorial to these men and honour boards also hang in the old Hall School recording all their names.

I would like to also give recognition to those who were left behind particularly the women, the mothers, sisters and wives of the men who went to war.

Imagine for a moment how these women were living with the constant hope that their men were safe and they would not receive the dreaded telegram advising that they had been killed, missing or wounded. In their absence, the women had to take on all the roles of the men including running the farms, managing the local businesses and teaching school children for example.

The churches also provided support to the local families where each week they would join together praying for their safe return of their men and were also on hand to give comfort when needed.

There is a rich history in the village of the huge amount of work done by these women joining with the rest of the Hall community in carrying out work in support of the soldiers. Two Red Cross branches were set up to support the families, a Comfort Fund where fund raising activities were organised where money was raised to support the War effort and comfort packages were made up in the local Hall to send to the soldiers. Socks were knitted at a phenomenal rate to help the soldiers who were fighting trench warfare in miserable conditions to help those suffering trench feet. The children from Hall School under their teacher Charles Thompson also contributed to this effort.
At the end of the war, although the fighting had ceased work continued in this community.

The Hall Returned Soldiers Presentation Committee organised a memorial plaque that hangs in the school and raised funds to present each returned soldier with a gold chain and a medallion. These were presented at large Welcome Home events for the soldiers and the community showing openly their appreciation for their efforts in fighting for the allied cause.

In 1919 a special community event took place with the planting of this Memorial Grove. Also a Peace Tree was planted at the School by his Susannah Hollingsworth as a dedication to her Grandson Clyde Hollingsworth, one of the men who did not return. Also pine trees were planted around the school grounds for each of the Red Cross volunteers from the district. These trees remain today as a living reminder.

On their return many of these men were physically, mentally and emotionally broken. They had changed dramatically from the men that went away to war. They found it hard to return to a normal life having witnessed horrendous sights in the war that they couldn’t share with their families.

So on this Remembrance Day we remember the men and women who fought and let’s also remember the communities at home who supported their fine and courageous efforts.

We shall, remember them.

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