ABOUT 300 people gathered at the Camperdown soldiers’ memorial as part of Remembrance Day commemorations on Sunday to mark 100 years since the Armistice was signed to end World War I.
Camperdown RSL president Alan Fleming prompted locals to wonder whether a veteran had lived at their own current addresses.
“There weren’t any street numbers in Camperdown at the time of World War I, however with a copy of the rate records, it is possible to identify a particular house,” he said.
“After serving in the Boer War, Robert Flanders Smith moved from England to Australia with his parents and sisters and lived in Longmore Street,
“He was recalled to serve in the British Army and returned to a Soldier Settlement block at Chocolyn.”
Manifold Street resident Mrs Helen Parker was also highlighted, with two of her sons enlisting in 1916, one of which was killed the following year.
Mr Fleming took the opportunity to inform attendees that a Veterans Centre had now been established in Warrnambool to help veterans receive the best possible advice and assistance upon their return from conflict.
“As World War I veterans returned home, the stark reality was they had lost their youthful outlook and returned as old men – many with obvious physical injuries and most with injuries unseen and not acknowledged or treated,” he said.
“Even as we gather here today, contemporary veterans, like those we recently watched at the Invictus Games, are experiencing great difficulty returning to the community.
“The number of contemporary veterans who have lost their life since returning from Afghanistan is 10 times the number killed in action.”
Mr Fleming said the closing of Cobden and Timboon RSL sub-branches meant the Camperdown sub-branch was now the initial point of contact for veterans seeking assistance, who would then be connected with experienced specialists employed within the RSL.
“We must continue to build a network which ensures veterans and their families and friends feel comfortable in making that all important first contact,” he said.
“Our young men and women are proudly serving the nation and in the future, we must close ranks and make them all feel respected and well cared for on their return.”
Camperdown’s Remembrance Day service also saw Dr John Menzies play the bagpipes during the wreath laying and involved students from Camperdown College, Mercy Regional College and St Patrick’s Primary School.
Lest we forget.