Town honours Anzac heroes
by Richard Hogg
A ‘sombre and sincere’ dedication service was held in the rain at the unveiling of the Anzac memorial monolith.
The service was held in memory of the injured Australian and New Zealand troops who arrived for treatment in Weymouth during World Wars One and Two.
Representatives from the Australian and New Zealand armed forces attended the ceremony on the Esplanade along with Weymouth and Portland Mayor Les Ames.
Mr Ames’ chaplain, Reverend Eric Mitchell conducted the ceremony in which wreaths were laid and a minutes silence was observed.
During the wars the Anzac troops (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) were camped in Chickerell whilst waiting either to be taken home or back to the fighting.
As numbers increased further sites were set up at Littlemoor, Westham, Worgret and Bovington.
Captain M P Folkes of the Royal Australian Navy was representing the Australian high commissioner.
He said: “This occasion provides a tangible reminder of the depth of involvement that this area had with our armed forces during both the world wars.”
New Zealand Defence Force Commander Paul Mayer thanked people for coming out in the foul weather.
He added: “The welcome we have received is much appreciated and is typical of the respect with which we are always treated when we come to Weymouth.”
The memorial was a project six years in the making and was built to mark the arrival of the first troops injured in the fighting at Gallipoli in 1915.
Members of the Weymouth and Portland Residents Association worked with the borough council to raise funds for the monolith.
Individuals and local businesses donated money to fund the purchase of the stone and the services of stone carver John Sellman.
Mr Ames said the memorial had special poignancy for him as his father fought at Gallipoli.
He said: “It was always of great concern to me that the many Anzac troops who played such an important part in both the world wars fighting in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and the Somme, were not commemorated in any way in the town.
“Many thousands of Anzac troops were based here and some are buried in Westham cemetery.”
Lord Lieutenant Dorset Captain Michael Fulford-Dobson said the occasion should serve as a reminder to the younger generation of the sacrifice made by their great grandfathers.
Article in Dorset Echo, June 2nd, 2005