Like those from almost every other community in Australia in 1914, men and women from Lakes Entrance, Victoria answered the call to arms in the name of ‘King and Empire’. Twenty-six of those who enlisted for service made the supreme sacrifice.
In 1924 a memorial Avenue of Honour, consisting of twenty-six Monterey Cypress trees, was planted in Lakes Entrance to honour those servicemen from the district who lost their lives during the First World War, with a tree representing each of those lost.
As with some other similar avenues, the ravages of time took its toll on many of the trees and after more than seventy years some had become safety hazards as they began dropping branches. Following consultation with interested parties, including the RSL and arborists, the decision was made to remove the trees. Rather than discard them entirely however, local artist John Brady was commissioned to carve six of them into sculptures relevant to commemoration of the First World War. The sculptures were created in 1998.
Five of the sculptures are scenes directly related to service during the First World War, a soldier, a wounded soldier with a donkey, a nurse in the uniform of the First World War, Simpson helping two wounded soldiers and a family waiting for the return of a husband and father. The sixth carving is of a sea captain, commemorating the loss of ships and lives at Lakes Entrance. They now stand along the Esplanade as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by these brave local young men, each of whom could say, as the plaque on the Memorial stone states, “That which we had we gave – it was our lives”.