Northam remembers

NORTHAM stopped to remember the sacrifices made by our servicemen and women on Saturday, marking the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.

Large crowds attended the dawn service, the street parade and 11am service outside the Northam  RSL Memorial Hall.

This did not go without mention by Northam RSL president Donna Prytulak.

“I have been to a lot of Anzac Day services but this is the first time I have witnessed as many people here as today,” she said.

During the 11am service, Northam RSL secretary Reg Stevens said it fell upon the community to remember the sacrifices made to ensure our freedom.

“On this 100th Anzac Day we honour those who fell,” Mr Stevens said.

“We are not here to glorify war - it is an ugly, dirty and bloody business.

“We are here to remember they gave their today for our tomorrow.”

A lasting legacy of the day was the unveiling of four new plaques on the World War I Roll of Honour.

The Northam RSL added 84 names of Northam soldiers who died in WWI.

These names for whatever reason were not included in the original roll in 1923, however they will now be remembered on their local memorial.

These men came to light over a five year period of research by Mr Stevens.

With the existing plaques, the number of Northam fallen named for WWI is 170.

“We must always remember the fallen, but we must also remember the returned,” Mr Stevens said.

Giving the Anzac Day address was Geoff Scarterfield, who spoke about Gallipoli soldier James Martin, the youngest Australian known to have died in WWI.

Mr Martin was only 14 years and nine months old when he succumbed to typhoid.

“Gallipoli looms over our nation like no other event,” Mr Scarterfield said.

“It was grief on an unimaginable scale – for many it was the excitement of seeing the world, however this was quickly replaced with the reality of the trenches.”

Mr Scarterfield said Australians were still an adventurous people and saw the value in honouring their past.

“We cannot ever risk letting the Anzac spirit fade,” Mr Scarterfield said.

“Lest we forget.”

At the conclusion of the service white doves were released in a wish for peace across the world.

Earlier, another lasting legacy of the day was the unveiling of a life-size bronze sculpture of Northam’s Victoria Cross winner, Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell.

The statue, located in the Avon Mall was created by artists Joan and Charlie Smith.

Mr Smith said author John Hamilton’s book on Throssell, The Price of Valour, was the inspiration behind the sculpture’s design, in particular the cover image.

“I based the sculpture on the front photo on the book,” Mr Smith said.

“The sculpture expresses the ethos of the entire group and not just the individual because Hugo always believed in the principle of the human being.”

Mr Smith said a major part of the sculpture was the principle of pushing forward, highlighting the forward lean Mr Throssell’s statue takes on.

“Hugo pushed on through war, through adversity and right until the end – he never shirked,” Mr Smith said.

“That’s what we tried to capture in this sculpture.”

Northam Shire president Steven Pollard thanked his councillors and staff for their effort in establishing a “significant monument”.

Special guests in attendance for the unveiling were Mr Throssel’s family Rohan, Mikael, Aston, Laure and Lisa Throssell.

They were impressed with the outcome. “It’s just perfect,” Lisa Throssell said.

“It’s such a good likeness and I’m very proud.”

Other Anzac Day events in Northam included a free community picnic and an Anzac One Love Family concert at the Northam Town Hall.

The concert saw performances by the Ngati reggae band and old school band Greenstone, Devine Appointment and the Te Tumu Herenga Waka cultural group.

Organiser Dean Umu praised the great turnout for the concert, which ran from 3-8pm.