Soil from Blackboy Hill to be mixed into ground at war memorial

Soil from Blackboy Hill to be mixed into ground at war memorial

SOIL from Greenmount’s historic Blackboy Hill will fertilise an Australian War Memorial project to create a Flanders Memorial Garden in Canberra.

Representatives from the Australian Defence Force visited the commemorative site on Wednesday to collect the soil, assisted by two children from Greenmount Primary School, veterans and Shire of Mundaring staff.

Much of the soil for the garden will come from the Flanders Fields’ battlegrounds in Belgium and other sites where Australian soldiers fell.

The Belgium soil will blend with soil collected from other significant sites and be used in the garden where poppies will continue to grow in honour of fallen servicemen and women.

RSLWA State President Peter Aspinall said Fremantle Port and Albany were the two other WA sites selected for soil collection.

“Blackboy Hill is one of the major, significant sites here in Western Australia, which has a direct connection with our nation’s commitment in the First World War.

“It was here where some 32,000, all volunteer Australian troops trained before departing overseas to serve in the First World War,” he said.

At the time, WA’s population was about 300,000 and many young men signed up to serve.

Mr Aspinall said of those who trained at the military camp 10 were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest honour for bravery in wartime.

President of the Bellevue RSL sub-branch Scott Rogers said all Western Australians who enlisted in the First World War trained at Blackboy Hill before leaving for overseas.

“This site therefore has ongoing significance for all Western Australians,” he said.

A plaque at Blackboy Hill memorial records the RSL asked to commemorate the camp in 1957 after hearing the State Housing Commission intended to sub-divide the land.

The site was dedicated soon after and in 1958, Governor Sir Charles Gairdner turned the first sod.