Marian’s fallen and story of commemoration
Guest blog: Pioneer Valley Museum
At 3pm Sunday 18 May 1919, hundreds of people assembled near the Marian Railway Station to attend a tree planting ceremony to honour the men who had lost their lives in the First World War. Fourteen young men from the district fell while serving their country.
Organised by the Marian Patriotic Committee, fourteen (14) trees were planted along Anzac Avenue in their memory. They were Corp. A.C. J. Graffunder; Corp J. Bissett; Pvt. V.J. Poulsen; Pvt. T. Stocker; Pvt. P.E. Coyne; Pvt. T.S. Harvison; Lance Corp. H.J. Stayte; Pvt. J.W. Cummings; Lt. T.A. Armstrong; Corp S.H. Edwards; Pvt. G.T. Martin; Sgt. D.E. Coyne (awarded the Albert Medal for bravery); Signaller W.J. Archbold and Pvt. W.M. Lowther.
The assembled crowd were told sixty-three (63) men had enlisted from the district, thirty-seven of them casualties. Nine of the young men born in the district died in the Great War. Enamel plaques bearing the names of each soldier and their location was funded by the Committee and attached to specific plantings but sadly, the avenue of weeping fig trees did not survive. They were removed in 1955 in the interests of public safety.
Not all the plaques survived but those that did are safely housed at the Pioneer Valley Museum in Mirani, a short distance of 16kms away from their original site. Mirani is 37 kms west of Mackay along the Pioneer Valley Highway. Contact the Museum if you wish to see the plaques or add to the story. Follow our Facebook page for all updates, local history feeds and our activities.
Postscript: Mackay Historical Society has recently published "Mackay's Own: a biographical register of the men from Mackay and district who died in the great war of 1914-1918 / Glen Hall. More of the Marian soldiers are listed in this publication.
Leonie Fanning, Pioneer Valley Museum, Mirani