Wanneroo families’ shared pride

Pearl Walding (Wanneroo) and City of Wanneroo freeman Margaret Cockman. Picture: Martin Kennealey d459244
The Kings Park plaques of Bill Cockman and Richard Smales.
The Kings Park plaques of Bill Cockman and Richard Smales.
Pearl Walding (Wanneroo) and City of Wanneroo freeman Margaret Cockman. Picture: Martin Kennealey d459244 The Kings Park plaques of Bill Cockman and Richard Smales. The Kings Park plaques of Bill Cockman and Richard Smales.

THEY left Western Australia for war and never returned.

Two young Wanneroo mates, Bill Cockman and Richard Smales.

“They enlisted on the same day, left WA on the same day and were then killed on the same day in France 100 years ago this month,” Cockman’s niece and Wanneroo-Joondalup freeman Margaret Cockman said.

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Remembered by two families but until this year their names not commemorated together in Kings Park.

Richard’s family had a plaque placed at the base of a tree in May Drive last decade while the Cockmans instigated one this year.

“They try to match people from the same division when assigning plaques,” Margaret said. “I didn’t know until we were taken to the tree that the boys had been placed together. I was gobsmacked.

“They more or less have a resting place side by side in Kings Park. It was a very emotional thing that came over me.”

The City of Wanneroo is also commemorating the men with a Wanneroo Regional Museum exhibition until mid-November.

Richard’s relative, Pearl Walding, said she was fortunate to visit his grave in France with her son.

“It took us quite a while to find it; the cemetery was huge,” she said. “We also saw where they all came ashore.”

Margaret said the news of her uncle’s death would have been heartrending for her grandmother.

“Granny Cockman had four sons away at the war,” she said.

“Uncle Ross, he survived (along with the other two brothers); he came back but never talked about the war.”