WWI Commemoration 1914-18
ANZAC – We Shall Remember Them
On ANZAC Day we commemorate the valour and sacrifice made by our service men and women across all wars, conflicts and peace keeping missions. The spirit of the day and the associated values of mateship and courage have been closely linked to our national identity.
ANZAC Day 2014 heralded the observance of a defining moment in Australian history. It was on the 4 August 1914, some 100 years ago, that Britain and Germany went to war. Patriotic sentiment swept like wildfire throughout Australia as the government of the day pledged the Australian Fleet and an expeditionary force of 20,000 men to British control. Many believed that the war would be over by Christmas. In Geraldton, enlistments began in earnest. The Drill Hall on Lester Avenue was kept busy as young men from across the district anxiously applied for the Geraldton Contingent of the Australian Expeditionary Force. The entry examination was a vigorous one and many were disappointed that they failed to meet the requirements.
Within two weeks from the outbreak of war, Geraldton was ready to begin sending volunteer recruits and the First ANZAC Contingent from Geraldton left for Perth on the 17 August 1914. With little time to organise a formal send-off, a combined service was organised by the Mayor, filling to Town Hall to capacity. In one of many moving speeches conducted on the night, Mayor George Kempton said:
“he felt convinced … that the Geraldton boys would behave themselves with credit to their town… and that the older ones would show a good example to the younger ones, many who have never left home before, so that whether on the field of battle or elsewhere, they would uphold the honour of the town” (Geraldton Guardian, 18 August 1914, p. 4).
Over the course of the World War One (1914-1918), 646 people enlisted in Geraldton. Although many were locally born, recruits came from other places as well. Similarly, “Geraldtonians” enlisted across the country, all ready to fight for “King and Country.”
(Source: Mapping our ANZACS, National Archives of Australia, Discovering Anzacs accessed 2 March 2014)
For more information about the history of Geraldton’s involvement in all conflicts, visit the Birdwood Military Museum, 46 Chapman Road, Geraldton.