THE 53 former Dandenong Primary School students who served in World War I were remembered when the school’s recently restored honour board was rededicated on Saturday 18 April.
The school received a Federal Government grant to restore the historic honour board.
Lawrie West of Dandenong business West Award and Print and Seaford restoration expert Barry Rea removed the fragile board from the school’s foyer in February.
More than 30 man hours went into bringing the board back to its original glory.
After being cleaned and repaired, the board was coated in its original shellac coating and the guild letter repaired before it was waxed and polished.
Tragically, 12 names have tiny crosses next to them denoting casualties. Among them was young Oswald Green.
Sergeant Green enlisted on 16 February 1917 joining the 21st Battalion.
He fought on the Western Front before being wounded at Villers-Bretonneux in France. He died of his wounds on 4 July 1918. He was 22.
His brother Francis was more fortunate surviving the war and returning home to Dandenong in April 1919.
Also listed on the board are the names of the three Newsome brothers.
William, Frederick and Harry Newsome, all former students, grew up in the family home on Kidds Road.
Sergeant William Newsome was wounded in the abdomen at Gallipoli when a shell exploded near him during a battle on 7 August 1915.
He was cleared to the Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis, on 13 August then to the Ras el Tin convalescent home.
His wounds seem to have been so bad that he was sent to England in September 1916 to work in a supply depot rather than returned to the front.
In a happy conclusion to Sergeant Newsome’s story, he fell in love and married 20-year-old Florence Anger on 14 March 1917 at St Augustine Anglican Church, Fulham, London.
The couple returned to Australia aboard the family ship the Bremen arriving on 25 July 1919.
Fredrick and Harry also survived the war.
School captain Montana Owen told the tale of the Newsome brothers in her speech during the re-dedication ceremony.
“You may have seen the Anzac Day posters around our school.
“These show Australians landing on beaches of Gallipoli on that first day,“ said Montana.
“Australians from all kinds of backgrounds served during World War II.
“They wore the same uniform and shared the experience of war.
“Their story, the Anzac story, is one that unites all Australians, regardless of their background.
“There are many ways to honour people who have served in Australia’s armed forces.
“We can attend school services, like this one, wake up early for a dawn service or attend an Anzac Day march.
“We can also honour their service by wearing a poppy or a sprig of rosemary, as a symbol of remembrance.“
Following the rededication service a Gallipoli oak, grown from an acorn brought home by soldiers from the Gallipoli peninsula, was planted in the school grounds.
BERWICK man Peter Neumann serves as a reminder of the other side of war.
His grandfather Arthur fought for Germany during World War I.
“I know he served at the front,” Peter said.
“He was nearly shot on the front line by one of his commanders because he didn’t want to fight anymore.
“Has anybody really won?
“I look at Anzac Day not just as one group of soldiers, but all the soldiers all around the world that fought and people who lost family members through the war.
“I probably look at war differently. War shouldn’t be glorified.
“It’s reality and there were lots of innocent lives lost. It’s been very hard on the families.”
Peter recently donated to Dandenong Cranbourne RSL a periscope his grandfather used, though during which conflict is unclear.
“It’s been kept in the family,” he said.
“I’ve been hanging onto it in the garage. I came across it and being a member of the club here, I thought it was stupid having it in the garage – no-one can see it.
“I’m donating it to the RSL. I know it will be put to good use here.
“I could have sold it on eBay but then it would have been in somebody else’s garage.
“Here, it can be put on display and people can see what was used during the war.”
Peter was called a Nazi and a Jew-hater when he migrated to Australia from Germany.
“I found out that my grandfather on my mother’s side (Joseph Kempf) had actually been imprisoned (during WWII) because he helped smuggle Jewish people over the border,” he said.
“He was supposed to be executed … but what happened was a friend of his who was in charge of the concentration camps, who was also smuggling the Jewish people out, he found out about it, went in there and gave him the lapel badge that said he was working for him, and he was let off.
“It was just hours before the execution.”
Dandenong Cranbourne RSL sub-branch president John Wells welcomed the periscope donation.
“I suspect it’s from an armoured vehicle of some sort. Probably from World War II,” he said.
“We used periscopes in the trenches a lot. Periscopes were wherever you didn’t want to put your head up.”
Mr Wells urged anyone who found wartime artefacts to contact their local RSL.
“It’s part of our heritage. It reminds us of the realities that we once faced and it reminds us that history isn’t always nice,” he said.
“If you want your future to be nice, you need to be aware of the things you did in the past that weren’t.
“It’s important to preserve it where people can see it and understand it.
“It links us, in the sense that the bloke that used this did what I did. His father did what I did. My great uncles did what I did.”
Mr Wells said every ex-serviceman was “in the club”.
“It doesn’t matter whether you fought in Afghanistan or you fought in the Boer War. If you pulled on the boots, you’re in the club,” he said.
“We have Italians who fought against us who march on Anzac Day. We have Turks now. They were our enemy.
“It’s a Turkish story as well. Bottom line is we invaded Turkey and they kicked us out.
“They suffered enormous casualties, far more than we did.
“Surely the Turks that have come here, they’re in the club.”