Australia remembers Avoca (26/11/2011)

trooperseerycropped.jpgThe small Southern Highland's community of Avoca shouldered a heavy burden during the two world wars, writes Stephen Jones MP, Federal Member for Throsby.

IT IS AN HONOUR to be with you here today – as your Federal Member of Parliament but also representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon. Warren Snowden MP at the launch of this important book, Echoes of War in Avoca.

Avoca is a special place. Ringed by the natural beauty of Morton National Park and Fitzroy Falls, the pastoral beauty of Avoca deserves it’s renown throughout the Southern Highlands and beyond.

Perhaps for this reason alone, the wartime sacrifices of the men and women of Avoca seem all the more extraordinary.

It’s hard to imagine a more dramatic contrast between the splendours of this place and the terrible scourge of war.

There are many things in life which marry beauty and terror. The shedding of blood, no matter how noble the cause, is not one of them.

November is the month we remember the dead of the Great War. Over the years our remembrances have expanded to include casualties from all conflicts our nation has engaged in.

On ANZAC Day we honour the service of our men and women in defence of Australia.

Echoes of War in Avoca contains many stories of stoicism and sacrifices made during the First and Second World Wars. It is – in many respects – the story of survival.

These are the stories of men and women who served their country and returned home to build a nation.

As we approach ANZAC Day 2012, we should remember and honour the contribution of Avoca’s sons and daughters through times of conflict and times of peace.

But today – as this sombre month of remembrance draws to a close – let us honour those who did not return to the beauty of Avoca.

Lest we forget. Today, let us honour the dead.

Let us remember PRIVATE OLIVER TURNBULL – 1st BATTALION, 1st DIVISION

Born in the Bega district, Oliver was schooled in Avoca before moving to north to Macksville.

Oliver landed at Gallipoli in May 1915 as part of reinforcements to the 1st Battalion, during a period of particularly intense combat.

A mere fifteen days after landing and six months since enlisting, Oliver was killed in action.

He is buried in Shrapnel Valley, near the western side of Lone Pine.

Let also remember TROOPER PETER SEERY – 1st LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT (Pictured)

A member of a large pioneering family of Avoca, Peter served in the famed Light Horse and saw action at the battles of Romani, Rafa, Tel El Saba and Beersheeba.

Peter was killed in action on 7 November 1917. The personal effects of this farmer’s son, when returned to his family, were found to contain a box of seeds.

These are just some of the stories that fill the pages of Echoes of War in Avoca.

The book is testament to the care and dedication of Ron Mumford.

Almost twenty years in the writing, it is clear that Echoes of War in Avoca was a labour of love for Ron.

But it is something more.

It is a tangible demonstration of honour to all that served this district and our nation – both the returned and the fallen.

On behalf of the Australian Government, let me thank Ron for this important history and assure you all that the Saluting Their Service program was designed to support projects like these.

Because if the sacrifices of the children of Avoca are to mean something, we must cultivate and honour their memory to ensure their stories are embraced and cherished by the generations that follow.

It is a sacred duty. And one I am very proud to commemorate here today.

Congratulations Ron.

Speech to launch Echoes of War in Avoca: The service and sacrifice of a small rural community in two world Wars by Ron Mumford, 26 November 2011.

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