This is a brief history of an initiative of Gus Powell to honour the men of Lysterfield who served in W.W.I. and of Ed Williams’ efforts to revive the memorial.
In 1919, immediately after the Armistice of the 1914-1918 Great War, a local resident of Lysterfield suggested to the people that an Avenue of Honour be planted in memory of the ex-service personnel who offered to give their lives to protect Australia.
14 soldiers enlisted from Lysterfield, ten were to return, four killed in action. Four English Oaks were planted for the soldiers killed in action and ten Silky Oaks for the men who returned.
When it was first planted it was well cared for, names on every tree, but over the years people either died or moved away so names disappeared, trees died and the memorial fell into a very bad state of neglect to the point it was almost unrecognisable.
I had known of the Lysterfield Avenue of Honour for many years – it was drawn to my attention when I was a small boy by my father who had served in the Army for some considerable time.
When I heard that the memorial may disappear altogether with road widening, I knew that I had to do something about it. That was four years ago.
After much work involving two Councils, the Australian Army and their equipment, donations from local people to put more plaques on to cover the 1914 -1918, 1939 -1945, Vietnam and Korean wars, the memorial was ready for ‘Australia Remembers’ year 1995.
This Historic Avenue of Honour at Lysterfield is part of the City of Knox and the Shire of Yarra Ranges’ heritage so I thought it was well worth saving.
On Wednesday 3rd July 1996, the 81st R.S.L. Victorian State Annual Conference was held in the Duke of Norfolk Room at Flemington Racecourse. It was attended by R.S.L. State President Bruce Ruxton OBE., R.S.L. National President Major W.B. (Digger) James AO MBE MC., and the Honourable J.G. Kennett MP, Premier of Victoria. He officially opened the conference.
I was awarded a National Certificate of Appreciation, presented by Major General W.L. James for my loyal and devoted service to the R.S.L. I should point out I did not accept this award for myself alone but for all the people who had participated in the restoration of this historic Lysterfield Avenue of Honour.
First published in the August 1996 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield