Mildura Weekly : Friday May 15 2015 Vol 9 No 27
NEWS 13 FRIDAY, MAY 15, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU A LARGE crowd has helped cel- ebrate a special tree planting cer- emony at the Red Cliffs Pioneer Cemetery, held in honour of the 100-year anniversary of the AN- ZAC Gallipoli landings. Organised by the Red Cliffs Cemetery Trust, the ceremony saw members of the group plant a ‘Lone Tree’ – a gift from the Cemeteries and Crematoria Asso- ciation of Victoria – in memory of soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. The ceremony was attended by dozens of community residents and school students, with Red Cliffs Cemetery Trust volunteer Sally Schimkowitsch saying the group was honoured to receive the tree. “We were delighted when we heard the news,” she said. “We’ve spent the past three weeks organis- ing the ceremony, and it’s wonder- ful to see so many people turn out for the event. “Red Cliffs was settled by 100 returned servicemen following World War One, and with so many of these soldiers resting at the Pio- neer Cemetery this was the only place to plant such a special tree. “Now our task is to look after this Lone Pine, and ensure it is here for many generations to en- joy.” The CCAV has delivered more than 160 Lone Pines to members throughout Victoria, with four trees granted to townships in the Mallee including Underbool, Mil- dura, Merbein and Red Cliffs. ‘Lone Pine,’ or Plateau 400 at Gallipoli, was the scene of a major diversionary offensive launched by the 1st Australian Infantry Di- vision on August 6, 1915. Turkish soldiers had cut down all but one of the trees dotting the ridge to cover their trenches, with the ridge dominated by the single Aleppo Pine, which later became known as Lone Pine. In three days of fighting the Australians lost more than 2000 men, and the Turkish an estimat- ed 7000 men, with seven Victoria Crosses awarded as part of the campaign. Two Australian soldiers took pine cones home from the ridge as a souvenir. Lance Corporal Benjamin Smith of the 3rd Battalion – whose brother was killed in the battle for Lone Pine Ridge – sent a cone home to his mother Mrs Mc- Mullen at Inverell in New South Wales. Mrs McMullen kept the cone for 13 years before planting the seeds in 1928. She grew two seed- lings, one of which she presented to the town of Inverell and the other to the Parks and Gardens section of the Department of the Interior in Canberra. The Duke of Gloucester planted this second tree at the Australian War Memorial in Oc- tober 1934, and today that tree stands more than 20 metres tall. Sergeant Keith McDowell of the 24th Battalion also carried a pinecone in his haversack until the end of the war. Upon return- ing home to Australia he gave it to his aunt, Mrs Emma Gray, who lived at Grassmere near Warrnambool, Victoria. A decade or so later Mrs Gray planted the seeds and four seedlings were grown. One was planted in May 1933 in Wattle Park, Melbourne, another at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, and another at the Soldiers Memorial Hall at The Sisters in Terang. The last tree was planted in Warrnambool Gardens. The Yarralumla Nursery in Canberra has been collecting and propagating seeds from the tree at the Australian War Memorial since the late 1940s, and since then many seedlings have been distributed to RSL branches, schools and other or- ganisations for commemorative purposes. In 2013, the CCAV ordered Lone Pine trees from the Yar- ralumla Nursery, which have now been distributed along with a commemorative plaque to more than 160 member cem- eteries and organisations in Vic- toria as a way to mark ANZAC Centenary celebrations. Lone Pine honours the region’s fallen soldiers • Red Cliffs Cemetery Trust volunteers Stephen Hewett (kneeling) and Larry Cricelli plant the Lone Pine, LEFT, while Leading Seaman Taylah Jenkins watches on. Taylah, pictured again BELOW prior to the planting, was one of four Naval Cadets to form a guard of honour to commemorate the ceremony, with Sub Lt. Jason Douglass, RCCT volunteer Sally Schimkowitsch and Leading Seaman Breeanne Douglass, BOTTOM, also playing a part in the morning’s proceedings. 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Friday May 8 2015 Vol 9 No 26
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