Marian First World War Memorial Avenue of Trees
On 18 May 1919, the Marian Patriotic Committee decided to formally mark and honour the contribution made by those local young soldiers who had given their lives in the First World War. A ceremony was subsequently held, during which fourteen weeping fig trees were planted along the newly named Anzac Avenue. The soldiers to whom these trees were dedicated had their names and details inscribed on metal plaques which were attached to concrete pedestals and placed adjacent to each tree.
In 1955, following damage to these trees caused by a cyclone as well as community and council concern following a severe traffic accident, the decision was taken to remove the trees. Unfortunately, at the time, it appears that the memorial plaques were discarded along with the damaged trees. Later, six of the plaques were recovered from the local rubbish dump and handed to the Marian RSL. Eventually, it was decided that these surviving plaques would best be located at the Mirani Museum, with the plaques being handed over around the time of its establishment. The names on the six plaques which were recovered and subsequently handed over to the Mirani Museum are as follows:
Signaller W.J. Archbold Sergeant D.E. Coyne Private P.E. Coyne Private J.W. Cummings Corporal S.H. Edwards Private T. Stocker
The names of the other eight soldiers, whose commemorative plaques have been lost, are as follows:
Corporal A.C.J. Graffunder Lance Corporal J. Bisset Private W.J. Poulsen Private T.S. Harvison Lance Corporal H.J. Stayt Lieutenant T.A. Armstrong Private G.T. Martin Private W.M. Lowther
The details recorded on the surviving six plaques convey the somewhat limited information often available to friends and family at home. This is illustrated with two of the plaques recording the soldiers’ location of death as “Somewhere in Belgium” and “Somewhere in France”. The six surviving plaques have suffered some damage over the years, as well as showing the effects of their removal and discard in the 1950s, however they are now well cared for and proudly on display at the Mirani Museum.
The story of this avenue of trees and the associated memorial plaques provide an example of the way in which the reverence and respect for such war memorials has changed and evolved over time.
Brian Randall - Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland