In response to many requests, please find below the speech delivered by Mayor of the Town of Mosman Park, Brett Pollock, on ANZAC Day, 25 April 2018 at Memorial Park, Mosman Park.
Today we and many others throughout Australia are attending memorial services for those men and women in the services who gave their lives defending our great country, and its way of life. We also remember those who served and survived. Many who suffered the physical and mental trauma of war.
The increase in numbers attending this service in recent years is an indication of how precious this park and the memorial service are to residents of Mosman Park, and the many visitors to the Memorial Park, not only on ANZAC Day, but also throughout the year.
As we have gathered in Memorial Park, on this ANZAC day. I would like to share with you the history and significance of this special place from 1934 to 1945 and the supreme sacrifice the Curlewis family made for our nation.
In 1934 when the District was administered by the ‘Buckland Hill Roads Board’, a Committee was formed to create a ‘Soldiers Memorial Park’ where we are gathered today [Council records show that 98 men from the District were killed in action in World War 1], Committee members included the Roads Board, RSL and the Horticultural Society. Money was tight in the middle of the depression, fundraising to support the project included Film nights, lotteries, raffles and a sports meeting. The children’s fancy dress ball became an annual event, and raised the princely sum of nine pounds, 19 shillings and sixpence the first year.
Things started to move quickly with great community support, and in August 1934 the Avenue of Norfolk Island Pines leading from the main park entrance at Palmerston Street, which you can see on my left, were planted in memory of the fallen in World War 1, by persons who had lost a loved one in World War 1, or known persons who were killed in action. These pines were donated and nurtured before planting by the Cook and Gaskin families who also donated the northern gates of Memorial Park off Memorial Drive [adjacent to Frances Terrace], and land in Victoria Street for the first Infant Health Centre in the Town. One of the pines was planted in memory of Private V.G. Cook of the 51st Battalion.
In 1935 the ornate gates you can see today were donated by the Women’s Committee of the RSL and erected at the main Palmerston Street entrance, they were officially opened by Lt. General Sir Talbot Hobbs, a Peppermint Grove resident and the highest ranked Army Officer from WA during World War 1.
During his address Lt, General Hobbs stated: “It was fitting that such a beautiful site overlooking the Swan River should be selected for a park, which it was hoped would keep green forever the memory of those soldiers from the Buckland Hill District who fell in the Great War.”
“There is no need for me to say what this land stands for. It is a living memory to the men we desire to honour, and whose service I hope we shall never forget.”
Also Archdeacon Riley appealed to the children and young people of the District to regard the park as ‘hallowed ground’, so that it might become a place of peace and quietness.
Lt General Hobbs later inspected a Guard of honour of ex-servicemen. It’s great to see we still have great support from men and women in our current RSL Branch, and I am so pleased they are with us today. In 1937, the district’s name was officially gazetted as “Mosman Park”. In 1961 the District became known as the ‘Shire of Mosman Park’ and in 1962 we became the ‘Town of Mosman Park.’
In 1938 the beautiful rose gardens facing Bay View Terrace were planted by children and others as a tribute to fallen soldiers. Unfortunately one rose bush was stolen soon after. News of this was reported in ‘West Australian’. The thieves were described as: “Mean to the core”.
In 1941, war preparations came to Mosman Park, and Air raid shelters were dug in Memorial Park. Council records show that 43 servicemen from the Town were killed in action during World War 2.
I would like to conclude this speech by relating the inspirational story of sacrifice behind the one Norfolk pine, planted in this park’s ‘Avenue of Pines one pine is in memory of three Curlewis brothers.
Brothers Selwyn, Gordon and Arthur, and George Campbell Curlewis were farming at Brookton at the outbreak of the Great War. By October 1914 all had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. With all his sons away their father George Curlewis and his wife Lila stopped farming, and moved to the Cottesloe district to await the boy’s return.
Selwyn, Gordon and George were with the 16 Battalion, and Arthur was with the 12th Battalion. All four brothers went on to land at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. On 2 May Corporal Selwyn Curlewis was killed in action. One week later Captain Gordon Curlewis was killed in action. No records survive to say how the brothers were killed. Gordon was buried in the field, and his grave is now in Beach Cemetery on Gallipoli. Selwyn’s grave was lost, and he is now commemorated on the ‘Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing’.
On 7 August parts of the 12th battalion were sent forward to reinforce the line at Lone Pine. Corporal Arthur Curlewis was wounded in the chest and the face. He lingered wounded for eight days. It took 6 days to get him from the battlefield to Hospital in Alexandria where he died two days later. Arthur’s last conscious words to the Hospital Matron were: “You will write and tell my mother. I did want to come home again but I did my duty to the end.”
In a reply to a letter of condolence from her relative Ethel Turner [Author of the classic book ‘ Seven Little Australians) Mrs Lila Curlewis shared with Ethel the following thoughts about Arthur:
“My poor little brave soldier boy. Our hearts were indeed broken with grief when we received the news of his cruel death, so soon after our other dear sons.”
“I’ve found that our dear sons with so many thousands of other dear brave men were willing at the call of duty to leave all they loved best on Earth , all comforts and enduring so many hardships and much suffering and so many dying in defence of us our country and empire, and to give the future generations their freedom.”
She concluded “But at what cost it is being brought. It should make us all feel very humble and try and live more worthy of so great a sacrifice for us all and our beloved empire. But human love is so strong for those we love so dearly, that it is hard to part with them in death in this cruel war, but we know they have reached that quiet land beyond all jest and will sleep till that great day when Christ will come again, and we are told the dead shall arise first to meet him.”
What an inspirational example of a mother's love, faith, her dedication to her family and sacrifice for her beloved Australia.
The surviving brother George Curlewis was repatriated to Australia in 1915 due to illness. On his return, he said of his brothers: “It was their duty to go and they did not deserve so much praise, but they were glad to have it.”
We at Mosman Park are so fortunate to have a living link with Lone Pine in Turkey where Selwyn Curlewis is remembered among the fallen, and where Arthur Curlewis fought and died. This link was an initiative of former Mayor Alf Snell [an RSL member who is here today], and is in the form of the beautiful Aleppo pine tree you can see on the north east corner of this park behind you. It was grown from seeds from a tree in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. This tree was propagated from seeds brought back to Australia from Lone Pine in Gallipoli, by a soldier who collected them soon after the battle in 1914.
Thank you for coming to this ceremony on such hallowed ground and this special ANZAC Day. Please walk around and view the significant Memorials mentioned in this speech. I encourage you on other occasions to use the Memorial Park to quietly contemplate and give thanks for the great sacrifice and contribution made to our quality of life made by Australian Service men and women who resided in Mosman Park and elsewhere.
For more coverage of the Town's ANZAC Day service, click here