THE Riverina and Central West will commemorate the Centenary of World War I’s Armistice Day on 11 November with a mixture of public celebrations and restoration of war memorials – all honouring the sacrifices of tens of thousands of Australians which contributed to victory that ended the bloodiest conflict in human history.

The Nationals’ Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he had secured nearly $50,000 in funding through the Armistice Centenary Grants Program for nine projects organised by the community to mark the close of four years of Centenary of Anzac commemorations.

Projects include a commemorative service in Wagga Wagga’s Victory Memorial Gardens on Sunday, 11 November, organised by the Wagga Wagga Sub-Branch of the RSL and celebrations at Barmedman organised by the town’s ANZAC Committee.

Other projects include a Remembrance Wall and Garden at Bogan Gate, restoration of a World War I Feldakanone (field artillery gun) in Parkes’ Cooke Park, an outdoor war memorial at the Greenethorpe Soldiers Memorial Hall, refurbishment of the Uranquinty Cenotaph surrounds and a display of memorabilia in the Trundle War Memorial.

The Gundagai RSL Sub-Branch has received funding for a Cenotaph flagpole and the Yerong Creek Hall Committee has received funding to preserve and display a large oil painting by Andy Lomnici titled The Man And The Donkey, a tribute to John Simpson Kirkpatrick.

“I am so proud and touched by the way our communities continue to honour and remember the more than 60,000 Australians killed and another 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner during World War I,” Mr McCormack said.

“Thousands of young Riverina and Central West men walked off their farms, out of their jobs and away from their families to fight tyranny in far off countries and too many of them never came home and are forever at rest in foreign cemeteries.

“We continue to grieve for them and we continue to pay our respects to them – and we always will.

“Their deaths and grievous wounds caused enormous loss but we are enriched by their legacy.”

Shirley Clay, of the Barmedman ANZAC Committee, thanked Mr McCormack for securing a grant to help pay for an afternoon of public celebrations on 11 November, starting at 2.30pm in the Soldiers Memorial Park.

“It has brought the commemorations of Armistice Day into focus in our community,” Mrs Clay said.

The celebrations will include the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Mr McCormack and Kevin Collier, the great grandson of WH Collier, who saw three sons off to war, one of whom did not return.

WH Collier planned the Soldiers Memorial Park, which Mrs Clay said was designed in the shape of the Union Jack with the Cenotaph in the centre.

“There will be other World War I descendants taking part in the service, as well as children,” Mrs Clay said.

The names of 28 Barmedman men who died in World War I will be read out as a mark of respect during the service.

“From the population we had at the time that was quite a few (deaths),” Mrs Clay said.

Mrs Clay said there would be wreath laying, the West Wyalong Town Band would play World War I era tunes and sound The Last Post and two of Barmedman’s oldest residents – Mrs Jean Maitland and Mrs Betty Lawrence – would cut an Armistice Day cake in the bowling club at a community afternoon tea.

“It’s going to be a very emotional day,” Mrs Clay said.

Wagga Wagga Sub-Branch Acting President Richard Salcole said the city’s commemoration would start with current Australian Defence Force personnel and ex-service men and women marching along Baylis Street, stepping off from the corner of Morgan Street, at 10.15am.

“It will be basically all in together to show unity,” Mr Salcole said.

The marchers will be led by a Light Horse troop and trailed by a police vehicle.

Mr Salcol said members of the public were welcome to join the march behind the police vehicle.

The march will end at the Victory Memorial Gardens where a commemorative service will be conducted, featuring a keynote address by Major Michael Jasny.

Mr McCormack urged everyone who can to attend any commemorative service being organised in their community and if they cannot attend then to spend two minutes in silence – the traditional period of silence for Remembrance Day - at 11am to mark the hour the guns fell silent on the Western Front.

Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day after World War II as an appropriate title for a day to commemorate all war dead.

Shane Manning