THE World War I centenary might now be over, but researchers now have a valuable insight into Orange’s contribution to the conflict.
Orange City Council’s Centenary of World War I committee wrapped up in November following the armistice re-enactment on Remembrance Day.
However, the committee has left a crucial legacy since its beginnings in 2011 – the Centenary of World War I in Orange website has 1170 posts, plus profiles for 285 servicemen and women thanks to researcher Trudy Mayfield.
The site has been visited 185,452 times.
It even came under the Australian War Memorial’s notice when Aboriginal liaison Michael Bell was researching Aboriginal soldiers.
We’ve covered a lot of ground and found incredible things that future generations can read.Orange mayor Reg Kidd
Mr Bell said a post on Christopher Henry Gage referred to a letter written to his widow, Violet, describing him as “a very popular man” who “died a game death” after he was struck by a shell at Ypres in September 1917.
“We didn’t know about the letter or the memorials,” he said.
“It was so well done, so I had to ring and congratulate them.”
Mr Bell said he was pleasantly surprised to find out Lance Corporal Gage was recognised in 1923 when a tree was planted for him on the Anzac Memorial Avenue along Bathurst Road.
“Aboriginal soldiers were treated as equals in the field, but when they returned home, they were left off a lot of the memorials,” he said.
“It’s good to see Orange even then remembering them.”
Mayor Reg Kidd said the resource would remain permanently.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground and found incredible things that future generations can read,” he said.
He said the conflict would not lose relevance after the centenary because Australia was a young nation at the time and it formed a crucial part of its identity.
“A lot of people went off to war not really knowing what they were fighting for,” he said.
“Some had probably never been to Sydney.”
Central West Libraries Jan Richards said while the effort had been worthwhile, the re-enactment was a relief.
“As the people of 1918 looked forward to peace, we looked forward to the successful conclusion of our project,” she said.
However, she said efforts would continue to establish a memorial for the women who served.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE NEWS?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below …