- Freo`s Diggers booked -
The 2998 young Fremantle men and women who fought for Australia in
World War I will be honoured in a book called Fremantle Anzacs.
Of almost 3000 who left Fremantle Harbour between 1914 and 1918, 698 lie
in graves throughout Europe or died soon after returning to Australia.
Fremantle archivist Andrew Pittaway was inspired to write the book
after an emotional visit to Gallipoli in 2002.
Andrew Pittaway at the
Fremantle War Memorial
"The silence was what I found overwhelming, not even the birds where chirping,
and you walk through the gullies and still find bits of bone," he said.
Mr Pittaway said Fremantle`s contribution to World War I had been largely overlooked
when compared with World War II, when the harbour was a major defence base.
"The population (of Fremantle) was pretty much the same as it is now, which is about
24,000, so 3000 people out of that is a fairly big percentage," he said.
"It changed Fremantle in the fact that nearly 700 men didn`t return and
a lot of them were prominent citizens before the war."
For the past two years Mr Pittaway has collected old photographs,
love letters and diaries which will form the basis of the book.
"It will be a history book in biographical form," he said. "I will get the
20 best stories which will show different experiences. It won`t strictly be
about their experiences in war, it will be about what happened to their
families as well."
Mr Pittaway said he had discovered remarkable tales of bravery by humble
Fremantle people, from clerks to footballers.
A letter from North Fremantle resident Edward Mofflin of the 11th Battalion
describes the landing on Gallipoli.
"As soon as we got on the beach we slung our packs off, jumped over
a trench and started off up the hill as hard as we could go, yelling
and shouting like madmen," he wrote.
"It was a charge, just a mob climbing the hills as best we could, pulling
and shoving each other up in the gradually growing daylight.
"I saw three Turks firing down on the beach. I dropped on one knee and let
him have it. I couldn`t very well miss. I saw him drop, and when I got up
to him I found that I had hit him fair between the eyes. Killed my first
Turk with my first shot."
Mr Pittaway said the most satisfying part of writing the book was helping
relatives find out what had happened to their relatives, lost almost
90 years ago.
"I have got in contact with about 30 or 40 families from the
Fremantle area," he said.
"I was able to help one family find out what happened to one of
their relatives, and they helped me with some photographs."
On Thursday Australia will recognise Remembrance Day – the anniversary
of the Armistice that ended World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th
day of the 11 month of 1918.
A service will be held at Monument Hill in Fremantle from 10.30am and
WA Governor Lieutenant-General John Sanderson will lay a wreath at the
State War Memorial ceremony at Kings Park at 10.45am.
Mr Pittaway hopes to have his book published by late 2005.
He is still seeking relatives of veterans from Fremantle and
can be contacted at the City of Fremantle.
by News Interaktive
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