Spirit of local servicemen honoured at Armistice Day ceremony

Media release - 9 November 2018

In keeping with the Centenary of Armistice Day theme “Honour their Spirit”, Kempsey Shire Council and Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-Branch commemorated the service and sacrifice of local ex-servicemen with a small ceremony in Ferry Lane today.

The commemorative tree planting ceremony at Ferry Lane Memorial Avenue was attended by Council General Manager Craig Milburn, Deputy Mayor Ashley Williams, RSL sub-Branch President Terry Hunt, local ex-servicemen, and the Kempsey District Silver Band.

The avenue of 27 camphor laurel trees was established in 1919 to honour the contributions of Macleay Valley servicemen during World War I, however, some of the trees were disturbed during construction of the Pacific Highway bypass.

In 2013, the Roads and Maritime Service worked with the Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-Branch and the local community to rehabilitate the site with descendants of the original soldiers invited to plant Crows Ash trees in memory of their relatives.

Mr Milburn praised Mr Hunt and community members for their tireless efforts in maintaining the avenue over the years.

“I would like to acknowledge all the work over the years by the Kempsey-Macleay sub-Branch to maintain the Ferry Lane Memorial Avenue,” he said.

“As the owner of the avenue, Council assumed responsibility in August for any future maintenance works from the sub-Branch, including maintaining the memorial’s tree plantings and slashing of the road verges, to keep this memorial flourishing.”

A new Crows Ash tree was planted in the memorial avenue as part of today’s ceremony to replace one of the 2013 plantings that had failed to thrive.

Mr Hunt said the RSL sub-Branch appreciated Council’s support in recognising the Macleay Valley servicemen who served in war time.

“The informal ceremony honoured the people of the Macleay Valley who thought of the memorial avenue idea in the first place and we are pleased that Council is now stepping up and continuing that work,” he said.

Cr Williams said the Centenary of Armistice Day observed the signing of a peace settlement to end four years of brutal conflict.

“The Armistice of Compiègne between the Allies and Germany came into effect at 11am on 11 November 1918,”” Cr Williams said.

“The guns fell silent on the Western Front and, after more than four years of unimaginable bloodshed and destruction, the war was finally over.

“Almost 62,000 Australians died fighting for our freedom and in service of our nation.”

The Centenary of Armistice Day will be marked on Sunday, 11 November with an 11am service at the Kempsey Cenotaph in East Kempsey where attendees will pause for a minute’s silence to reflect on the sacrifices of those who served and died in war.

An Armistice Day concert is also being staged by the Kempsey District Silver Band on Saturday, 10 November at 7pm at Kempsey District Church Hall.

Kempsey Shire Deputy Mayor, Ashley Williams, and Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-Branch President, Terry Hunt, plant a tree watched by members and Kempsey Shire Council General Manager Craig MilburnKempsey Shire Deputy Mayor, Ashley Williams, and Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-Branch President, Terry Hunt, plant a tree in Ferry Lane Memorial Avenue as part of the Centenary of Armistice Day commemorations.