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Honouring The Australian Airmen

Honouring Australian Airmen

During the First World War young men came from the Commonwealth to learn to fly at Chattis Hill and Lopcombe Corner air fields. Nine were killed during their training and are buried in the Romsey Road cemetery. The local scout, cubs and beavers group researched the airmen’s histories and placed a commemorative plaque on the wall of Old St Peter’s Church. The plaque was blessed during a ceremony in April 2018.

 

 

On 2nd October 2018, Clare and John Canty from Shepperton, Victoria, Australia visited Stockbridge. Clare had been instrumental in helping to find the relatives and histories of the two Australian airmen in the cemetery. During World War 1 Australian families sent dried Eucalyptus leaves to their soldiers in the trenches who burned the leaves to release the oils whose perfume reminded them of home. Clare and John, Mo Collins the leader of the scout group and Stan and Jill Goodwin met in the cemetery to honour the Australians, Lieutenant Lachlan Macdonald and Second Lieutenant Henry Carr.

Clare and Stan burned some Eucalyptus leaves on each grave and Clare and Mo poured Australian soil onto the graves. The turf was replaced on top of the ashes and soil. An Australian tradition had been honoured and the men were resting in this foreign soil with a little of their homeland.

A poem written by the Australian poet Banjo Paterson was read. It tells the story of Australians, who still retained close emotional ties with the ‘homeland’ enlisting to support the British war.  This is an extract from his poem ‘Reveille’.

When we hear our brethren call,

Sound a clear reveille.

Then we answer one and all,

Answer that the world may see,

Of the English stock are we

And at their side we still will be.

Major Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson a Sydney solicitor and poet, drove an ambulance and acted as a vet in trenches in France.

 

Clare placed yellow and green flowers (Australia’s colours) and hand knitted poppies on the graves to conclude the ceremony.

Jill Goodwin

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