ENTHUSIASTIC support at Anzac Day community events has led to a village war memorial honouring servicemen and women in Chidlow and a new RSL sub-branch.
The Chidlow and District Returned and Services League received its charter last November, topped off this week by a $10,000 contribution from the Shire of Mundaring for the war memorial.
The memorial will stand proud on the village green in time for this year’s Anzac tribute to acknow-ledge wartime sacrifice and the history of the village as an army training camp in World War II for more than 60,000 troops.
Threat of a Japanese invasion during WWII led to extra army camps and the transformation of WA from a barely defended outpost to a training post for about 30 per cent of the Australia Army by the end of 1942.
Most of the funding for the $32,000 memorial came from the Chidlow Progress Association and community donations, as well as a $15,000 windfall from Lotterywest.
Chidlow RSL President Bill Scrivener (69) said villagers were delighted when more than 200 people attended the group’s Anzac Day in 201`5.
The service with Chaplain Des Burgess took place under a gum tree with a flag borrowed from the local Girl Guides. “The following year we set up a makeshift memorial, where we’re proposing to build the memorial, and more than 400 people turned up,” Mr Scrivener said.
“There was a lot of interest in having an RSL branch, with considerable enthusiasm from younger people, and we opened up to affiliate members – ‘first responders’ from St John Ambulance, the State Emergency Service and the local fire brigade.”
Mr Scrivener said the image of the RSL as an old man’s club did not hold true in Chidlow.
“An RSL branch is much more than a place to socialise; there is the welfare of those who return from a war zone and the families of those who do not,” he said.
More than 80 Chidlow veterans from across two world wars receive an honourable mention in the village, along with the 12 who never came home. Mundaring Shire President David Lavell said the memorial would be ready in time for this year’s Anzac Day.
A small presentation of the Lotterywest grant by Swan Hills MLA Frank Alban to Chidlow RSL took place on Sunday to mark the start of work on the memorial project.
Cr Lavell said in addition to the funding, the shire was involved with site preparation, fencing and electrical works.