|About this Item||Subjects||Books; Ex-Servicemen; War; Canterbury
||Speakers||Griffin The Hon Kayee
The Hon. KAYEE GRIFFIN [10.15 p.m.]: Tonight it is appropriate to mention a book called Canterbury's Boys, written and published by the Canterbury and District Historical Society. The book took many years of painstaking research by the society and came about because the original honour roll of people who served from the Canterbury municipality in World War I had disappeared. The society took up the challenge of re-gathering the names and over time the enthusiasm of finding details of all those men and women who served during the First World War became a project requiring more time and patience than was at first anticipated.
The members of the society recorded every honour roll in Canterbury, whether it was in an RSL, a park, a church or any other type of monument. They checked details from all available newspapers, sought details from family members, and looked at surviving photographs and casualty lists. The commitment to produce a book containing at least a biographical index of all those who served and, at best, details of as many people as possible became a project that lasted many years. Canterbury's Boys details the Canterbury roll of honour, information on the battlefields of World War I, statistics of and an insight into the municipality during that period, and the biographies of the men and women who served. It is appropriate to quote part of a paragraph from the introduction to the book by Dr Leslie Muir:
The young men who enlisted often joined up with their mates from school, from the same street or their church or club. For instance, nine out of thirty-two families in Lincoln Street, Campsie had sons at the Front, including the four Witheridge boys, three of whom did not return. Thirty-two of the thirty-four members of the Hurlstone Park Harrier's Club joined up, convinced by the enthusiasm of Hector J McLeod, of Hopetoun Street, who died with his brother, William, at Fromelles in their first front-line encounter with the enemy. The majority of those who enlisted were between eighteen and twenty-six years old, young men just starting out in trades or careers. Clearly the need to join with mates in this great patriotic adventure must have been hard to resist.
I am sure that these feelings were very true of so many city areas and country towns across Australia. After reading Canterbury's Boys I now have a much better understanding of the impact of nearly 10 per cent of the population of Canterbury being on active service. Think about the families and friends when they had to scan casualty lists. Even if their loved ones were still safe and well they must have often seen many familiar names of people in the district.
After reading several entries it was also apparent that for months on end many families had little information about those serving. Sergeant George Draper is a good example. He was listed in the Sydney Morning Herald casualty list on 12 November 1915 as wounded and missing, but was later reported as having been killed in action at the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. He was 20 years old. I had the privilege of attending the Anzac Commemoration Service at Gallipoli on 25 April 2000 and I spent some time looking for the names of many of those young men named in Canterbury's Boys and listed on the panels of the Lone Pine Memorial. It was difficult to visualise the scenes and horror of war witnessed by these men and the anxiety faced by their families at home.
The book also details the changes in population in the Canterbury district after the war. It became the fastest-growing area in Sydney during the inter-war period. According to the census the population increased from 37,639 in 1921 to 79,050 in 1933 and 99,396 in 1947. The War Service Homes Scheme assisted servicemen to acquire their own homes. A photograph on page 97 shows Private Frederick Baxter and his wife on 21 Jul 1919 watching the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia lay the foundation stone of the first war service home in Australia at 32 Kennedy Avenue, Belmore. Canterbury's Boys not only tells the story of the men and women who went to war and the tragedy of the loss of so many young lives, but of the impact of the war on so many aspects of the local community. The book is a great achievement and reflects the commitment of so many to produce an accurate record of those who served their country in the so-called war to end all wars. I again congratulate the Canterbury and District Historical Society on their achievement.