The 201 memorial crosses marking local lives lost in WWI – erected in Bruxner Park during ANZAC Centenary commemorations – were ceremoniously laid to rest under a Lone Pine tree at Tenterfield Cemetery at 11am on Sunday, December 16.
The stakes were trimmed from the crosses to allow them to be filed in a special casket, replete with their plaques and poppies. The casket was carried by six JF Thomas Riding Troop lighthorsemen, from a ute made up to resemble a WWI mobile field ambulance.
Rev. John Cooper led the burial service, in line with what would have happened at Gallipoli or the Western front, wearing what the army chaplain would have worn and reading the same burial service that the Anglican chaplains carried with them.
“Each of the crosses represents a deep grief for those who lost their lives and an immense gratitude for the freedom they secured for us,” Rev. Cooper said.
“I don’t think we can truly comprehend how hard it must have been for Tenterfield after the war. The children who would never know their father again. The women left to raise their families alone. The parents who would not feel their sons embrace.
“Yet today we are a grateful people because we know it was their unflinching devotion to our security that has won for us the freedom we now enjoy. Today we honour these men.”
Rev. Cooper shared a quote from Chaplain Walter Dexter, relating what it was really like to conduct a burial during the Gallipoli Campaign:
“Dark nights, and a small group gathered around an open grave, with heads bowed in sorrow for a comrade taken away.
“We know the burial service by heart, and all the time the service goes on bullets are thudding into the ground. They whistle close by my ear, and through the group, the boys are very brave, and not one moves from the reverential attitude he has taken up.”
In his address Tenterfield RSL Sub-branch president Dave Stewart said the Centenary of Anzac over the past four years and more recently the Armistice Centenary commemorative events in Tenterfield had provided all of us and particularly descendants, time to reflect and remember all of those who served in WW1 and those that paid the supreme sacrifice on the battlefields.
“In some way, through this commemorative memorial service we have brought the soldiers names and their spirits home and lay them to rest in Tenterfield soil.”
All those who helped in the centenary commemorations were invited back to a barbecue at the RSL Pavilion as a thank you for their contributions.
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