New plaques to add more than 800 WWI servicemen and women’s names

ADDING NAMES: Representatives of the Lithgow WWI Commemorative Plaque Project Inc John Barlow, Sue Graves, Ian Burrett, Calare MP Andrew Gee, Portland RSL sub-branch president Norman Richardson and Lithgow City Councillor Steve Ring. Picture: KIRSTY HORTON.
ADDING NAMES: Representatives of the Lithgow WWI Commemorative Plaque Project Inc John Barlow, Sue Graves, Ian Burrett, Calare MP Andrew Gee, Portland RSL sub-branch president Norman Richardson and Lithgow City Councillor Steve Ring. Picture: KIRSTY HORTON.

Lithgow RSL sub-branch president Ron Murphy, who died last month, was honoured as Calare MP Andrew Gee announced funding to update the lists of names on the cenotaphs at Lithgow and Portland.

“It would have been great if Ron had been here,” Returned Serviceman Ian Burrett said at the announcement on Monday, August 6. 

“He’s here in spirit, that’s for sure.”

Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said it gave him great pleasure to be able to announce funding for a project close to the hearts of the Portland and Lithgow sub-branches. 

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The Australian Government’s Armistice Centenary Grants Program, which aims to commemorate Australia’s role in the First World War and pay tribute to our service men and women, delivered $6,000 for the Lithgow World War One Commemorative Plaque project.

A further $3,750 has been allocated to the Portland RSL sub-branch.

Mr Burrett has dedicated hundreds of hours to searching archives to complete the list of the names missing from the Lithgow plaque – more than 760 of them. Mr Gee noted that the new list would also include the names of several women who served as nurses. 

“The bronze plaque, which will be placed in Elizabeth Park, will honour those 768 people from the Lithgow area who served in World War One and fought for our freedom,” Mr Gee said.

“Over the past three years, members of the Lithgow World War One Commemorative Project Inc. have worked tirelessly identifying those who either returned from service or paid the ultimate sacrifice, and who are not listed on the existing World War One Cenotaph in Lithgow which was first erected in 1917.

“The plaque will give these service men and women the long overdue public recognition they deserve and provide a lasting memorial for their descendants.”

Portland RSL’s new plaque will add another 104 names to the existing memorial, also commemorating the service of men and women from the First World War.

Portland sub-branch president Norman Richardson said, when people came home from war wounded and suffering, communities rallied around. 

Returned servicemen Ian Burrett, Member for Calare Andrew Gee and Portland RSL sub-branch president Norman Richardson with the lists of updated names for the Lithgow and Portland WWI commemorative plaques.

Returned servicemen Ian Burrett, Member for Calare Andrew Gee and Portland RSL sub-branch president Norman Richardson with the lists of updated names for the Lithgow and Portland WWI commemorative plaques.

“Australia was only young at this stage and so it was the community that had to support those returning soldiers and those who returned had to support each other,” he said. 

“So they formed social groups in the first instance.”

That then led to the formation of the Portland sub-branch. 

All of those people will now be remembered. 

On behalf of the commemorative plaque committee, Mr Burrett said he was grateful for the grant, and for the contributions of $1000 from the State Government and Lithgow City Council towards the project. 

“Each one played a vital part at a crucial stage to this through,” he said.