The Yarloop War Memorial

Story
Posted on 16 January 2019

The Yarloop & Districts War Memorial was built to remember those who paid the Supreme Sacrifice & their Comrades in the Great War of 1914–1919. 

The design of the memorial was the result of a competition won by the Western Australian Sculptor by Pietro Porticell. Construction was supervised by architect M.J. Ochiltree. The memorial was unveiled on Anzac Day April 25, 1922 by Lieutenant Colonel C.H.E Manning, D.S.O, O.B.E.

The memorial is a 6m high granite obelisk with the names of the fallen on the front and on the other three sides the names of those who enlisted and returned including two who were awarded the Victoria Cross. Protruding at right angles from each tablet is a crouching lion carved from South African white marble. The Yarloop and Districts community raised the funds to erect the memorial which included money left from an amenities fund collected in 1918 for local servicemen serving overseas. The cost was approximately $1500.

The memorial was one of the few public structures to survive the bushfires that ravaged the small town of Yarloop on the 7th January 2016.  The fires destroyed 121homes as well as most public buildings in Yarloop and thousands of hectares of farming land. Two lives were lost. 

It withstood the intensity of the blaze suffering only smoke damage and the loss of the surrounding picket fence, while directly across the road, the fire station and historic Yarloop Workshops were destroyed.  Refurbishment of the memorial was seen as a priority so that the community could pay their respects on Anzac Day of 2016. 

This memorial had been managed by the local Yarloop Volunteer Fire Brigade for many years and despite their own losses, brigade members and town residents worked hard to complete the refurbishment in time.   The 2016 Yarloop Anzac Day Service went ahead despite the town still being closed to the general public and the clean-up operation far from finished.  

1,000 people attended the Dawn Service in Yarloop in 2016 nearly double the population of the town. Veterans and volunteer firefighters stood side-by-side in the darkness and steady rain, all heroes in the eyes of onlookers.

In front of them stood the Yarloop War Memorial, a 6m-high granite obelisk surrounded by lush grass, flowers and a white picket fence. While behind them, the ruins of the historic Yarloop workshops and a patch of vacant land once occupied by the fire station.

Didier Pontzeele, from the Belgian War Graves Commission, flew from Belgium to spend Anzac Day in Yarloop. He brought with him pebbles from the grave of Pte Edward Properjohn, a local man who died on the Western Front in 1916.

He said the Diggers named on the Yarloop war memorial would be proud of the town.

“Those boys had the same spirit and mentality of the Belgian people,” he said.

“It is the very same spirit that I have seen here with my own eyes in Yarloop as you are pulling together the greatest efforts in rebuilding your village.”

For more information please visit https://www.harveyhistoryonline.com/