At the end of the Second World War, Trentham citizens began a debate about how best to honour their war dead and remember those who had served their country. Public meetings to discuss the matter were held and regular correspondence was published on the front page of the weekly Gazette.
Proposals for a war memorial made at such forums included the building of an annexe to the Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital, the building of a Community Centre, the erection of a monument, new buildings at the Sports Ground, renovation of the Mechanics Hall, and scholarships for young residents.
A War Memorial committee was formed and they grappled with this decision, finally putting the question to the public by means of a ballot. Five alternatives for a war memorial were offered, and all residents over the age of 18 were urged to record their preferences. The majority of the local residents voted for the community centre proposal, giving rise to regular fundraising activities, including dances, concerts, film nights and street stalls.
These fundraising events continued until early 1954.
Land was purchased to construct a community centre. However, the construction of a community centre as a war memorial did not come to fruition. Today the land remains as public space, with an open air community swimming pool and tennis courts.
Meanwhile, the RSL Trentham sub-branch raised sufficient funds to erect a monument, or cenotaph, on the corner of High and Market Sts, in front of the Post Office.
The monument to ‘fallen local soldiers of the past three wars’, was unveiled on Sunday 27 April 1947. At the unveiling ceremony, Mr J. T .Trewhella, President of the Trentham Branch of the RSL, presided at the large gathering of citizens and dignitaries. They included the Shire President and Councillors, and the Secretary General of the Australia Red Cross Society.
Fifty returned service-men marched from the western end of High St to the memorial, where they took up positions in front of the cenotaph. They were led by the Kyneton Municipal Band with Mr J. Garlick as drum major.
The Shire President (Cr Clowes) addressed the meeting. In his moving speech he referred to the historic significance of the day:
This day was an historic one for Trentham, as it marked the 32nd anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps on the shores of Gallipoli. Those men had brought justice to the Australian nation, whilst the valor of their deed and spirit with which they served had proved an inspiration to the later generation. With feelings of deep pride and deep reverence… (we meet today) to remember the men who had fallen in three wars.
Kyneton Guardian 29 April 1947
Adapted from Trentham & District Historical Society’s publication:
Trentham at War, Boer War, World War 1, World War 2
by Ina Bertrand and Jan Robertson.
Ch 3 page 63