Digby Soldiers' Avenue of Honour
Sunday, 27th Jan 1991 saw a ceremony at Digby attended by approximately 450 people to celebrate the restoration of the town's Avenue of Honour. Bronze plaques dedicated to the Digby and District service men who fought in the First World War were dedicated and and placed by families at the foot of the avenue's trees. There are 97 trees in the Avenue and 45 families of these soldiers had been traced at the time of the ceremony.
Mr Bruce Ruxton, Returned Services League state president, was the special guest for the ceremony which included a march by veterans through the Avenue, a number of addresses and afternoon tea served in the Digby Hall.
The Souvenir Booklet for the planting cereomony in 1917 was reproduced for the 1991 restoration ceremony and has been reproduced on this page, including the Tree Numbers, Soldiers' Names and the names of the tree planters in 1917.
Digby Soldiers' Avenue Restoration Ceremony, 27 Jan 1991
Laying the plaque at Tree 53, Pte. George Povey,
46th Battalion, AIF France.
George's family left to right:-
Ray(son), Sylvia(sister), Alice (daughter), Tom(son).
Souvenir of the Digby Soldiers' Avenue
By night, there came a cry
From friendly lands afar,
And, in the darkened sky,
There blazed a blood-red star.
Our nation lay at ease,
Half waked and half in dream,
What fateful sounds are these?
What means the ruddy gleam?
The, loud and clear, there came
Across the startled night:
"The world is all aflame!
Up, champions of the right.
To arms our bravest sprang,
Rejoicing in their might;
With scarce a parting pang,
They went into the night.
To do, to dare, to die,
Until the shadows flee,
And God's day lights the sky
For all humanity.
This Avenue of Elms was planted in honour of those men connected with Digby and District, who, in response to Britain's call to arms, enlisted for active service in The Great War.
Strangers to war and all its horrors, yet recognising the "glorious right" of the cause, they forsook the familiar pursuits of peaceful times, bade good-bye to home and loved ones, and sailed across the seas, to fight in distant lands in the great struggle to make the world "safe for democracy" and " conduct it at last to freedom."
When tried by the fiery ordeal of battle they failed not. By their valiant deeds, the citizen soldiers of the Commonwealth made the name of Australia to shine with an added lustre, and filled with pride the breasts of their fellow countrymen.
In the included lists are given the names of the men in whose honour these trees were planted.
The founders regard as a sacred trust the maintenance of this avenue in a condition worthy of Australia's heroes. May this trust be faithfully kept from generation to generation!
The Planting Ceremony
The formal ceremony of planting this Avenue took place on Saturday, August 11th, 1917, in the presence of a large and representative gathering of people.
The Glenelg Shire was represented by President Alfred Mitchell, Councillors J. W. Murrell and L. Koch; the Portland Shire by Councillors Gavin Shaw and J. R. Philip. Apologies for unavoidable absence were received from the President of the Portland Shire (Councillor F. W. Cope), Councillors John Smith and Samuel Malseed; the Rev. Father Lowtham (Roman Catholic), Rev. John Meers (Presbyterian), Rev. F. Stilwell (Church of England); Mr. A. S. Rodgers, M.H.R.; and Mr. H. J. M. Campbell, M.L.A.
The churches were represented by the Rev. T. F. C. Reynolds (Church of England) and by Mr. R. Dunstan (Methodist Missionary).
At 2 o'clock p.m. Councillor Gavin Shaw extended a hearty welcome to the visitors, and the National Anthem was sung by the assemblage.
At 3.30 p.m., the work of tree planting being completed, an adjournment was made to the Sate School, where afternoon tea was dispensed by the ladies in such a beautiful manner as to evoke hearty and sincere compliments from the visitors.
Adresses suitable to the occasion were delivered by Councillor Mitchell, the visiting heads of churches, and the Head Teacher (Mr. G. T. Graham).
A pleasing feature of the program was the singing of several patriotic songs by the school children, for which they were heartily applauded.
The singing of the National Anthem terminated proceedings.
The Bugles of England
The bugles of England were blowing o'er the sea,
As they had called a thosand years, calling now to me;
They woke me from dreaming in the dawning of the day,
The bugles of England - and how I could say.
The banners of England, unfurled across the sea,
Floating out upon the wind, were beckoning to me,
Storm-rent and battle-torn, smoke stained and grey,
The banners of England - and how could I stay?
O England! I heard the cry of thoise that died for thee,
Sounding like an organ voice across the winter sea;
They lived and died for England, and gladly went their way,
O England! O England! how could I stay?
-J. D. BURNS
For The Fallen
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime;
They sleep beyond the foam.
But, where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land, they are known
As the stars are known to the night.
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Extending the Avenue in 1918-19
At a public meeting held on Saturday to consider the matter of extending the Digby Soldiers' Avenue it was decided to plant the trees at the southern end of the present avenue. Upwards of 20 trees will be planted. A working bee will be held a week before planting day to prepare the cites of the trees. Meanwhile carpenters will be employed to construct the necessary guards. Of the 70 odd trees planted last year there was not a single failure. In planting this avenue in recognition of the district Soldiers, Digby, though comprising but a handful of people, has set an example to larger centres.
Portland Guardian (Vic.) Friday, 14th June 1918.
AVENUE OF HONOR.- On Saturday afternoon, July 27. the Digby Avenue of Honor will be extended by the addition of 21 trees, making the total 92. The Committee cordially invites the district public to be present at the ceremony, Afternoon tea will be dispensed by the ladies free of charge.
Portland Guardian (Vic.) Friday, 19th July 1919.
Maintaing the Avenue in 1930
KING'S BIRTHDAY AT DIGBY. (From our Own Correspondent.)
Digby is possessed of one of the finest War Memorials in the State of Victoria in the form of an avenue of elms. It extends for half a mile on both sides of the Portland road, commencing at the Church of England and stretching towards Portland. It was planted in 1917, and since then has been cared for by the residents of the town. For the last year or two, the work has been done on King's Birthday, and on Monday last most of the men folk of the village gathered at a working bee to give the trees the attention they needed. There is a tree for every man who enlisted from the Digby district, or who at some time had been a Digby man. Most of the trees are in splendid condition as regards growth, and in a few years it is safe to say that it will hold its own with any in the State.
The local association of the Girl Guides and Rangers conceived the idea of making King's Birthday one day of the year at least that would be set aside for attention to the trees and kindly co-operated with the bee in making it a very enjoyable day. When all the work in connection with the avenue was completed, a splendid afternoon tea was provided by the Association, and later in the evening a social, was given by the same organisation. Dancing and games, together with other items, provided a very enjoyable evening for the large gathering. Mrs. W. McK. Shaw, District Commissioner, was present, and the manner in which the Rangers and Guides carried out their various duties spoke highly for the efficiency of the movement.
During the evening the following items were given-Highland Fling, Misses Delma, Sylvia, and Edna McDonald ; action song by Girl Guides (10 little nigger boys), encored ; recitation, Mr. C. Dougheney ; Highland dance, Misses McDonald ; recitation, Miss Booth ; Sailor's hornpipe, Misses McDonald. Pipe music for the dancing was played by Pipers R. Lane and Jock McPherson, the latter also contributing to the programme with selections on the pipes.
Mr. W. McK. Shaw thanked the Association and Rangers for the splendid help given, and his remarks were endorsed by Mr. Booth, of the Presbyterian Church, and supplemented by Mr Percy Thomas, who was one of the founders of the avenue. A good supper was provided by the Rangers, and at midnight the singing of the National Anthem brought to a close one of
the most enjoyable evenings spent in Digby for some time.
Portland Guardian (Vic.) Monday, 16th June 1930.
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