2020 marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War. To commemorate this important year, the NSW Government interviewed WWII veterans about their experiences. Read our 75th Anniversary Stories.
Two simple plaques attached to a spectacular lookout at Spendour Rock in the Blue Mountains National Park. Each Anzac Day at dawn, a commemoration is conducted at the rock. Please note, access to the memorial is by foot only and is a half-day or more walk from the nearest carpark.
From Bushwalking NSW website:
In 1947 the Confederation [of Bushwalking Clubs of NSW] decided to erect a bushwalkers' war memorial, and is recorded thus in the The Bushwalker magazine of December, 1947:
Plans for the memorial to bush walkers who gave their lives in World War Two have been accepted by Federation and a Committee consisting of the President, Tom Moppett and Brian Harvey (both of S.B.W.), has been entrusted with their completion.
The proposal to choose and name a suitable peak in the Gangerang Region has had to be abandoned as all peaks worthy of such high dedication already carry a familiar name. The alternative accepted is to affix a brass plate with bold, raised lettering, to Splendour Rock, that magnificent view-point at the Southern end of Mount Dingo. Here, where the eye is drawn to the glory of Kanangra Walls, surely the spiritual home of bush walkers, is a spot beloved of many of those whom we seek to honour.
The plan was carried out & at sunrise, on Anzac Day, 1948, the simple bronze plaque commemorating the memory of Bushwalkers who fell in World War II was unveiled at Splendour Rock, Mount Dingo, in the heart of the Wild Dog Mountains by Paddy Pallin in the presence of the President Stanley Cottier and between 80-90 Bushwalkers. "Those familiar landmarks - Mt Cloudmaker, the Gangerang Range, Mt Paralyser and Mt Gouougang - a spiritual home of the Bushwalkers - all lie within our gaze from this wonderful viewpoint. We could wonder how often had our fallen comrades gazed in happiness upon this scene that we still enjoy?
Upon this rock, as sunrise lit the cliffs they loved so well, was placed a permanent record that we honoured those known & unknown Bushwalkers, who gave their lives for our freedom. And, their splendour shall never fade!
Bushwalkers known to have fallen in World War II:
BRUCE ELDER Coast & Mountain Walkers R.A.N.
KENNETH GRENFELL Rucksack Club R.A.A.F .
REG. HEWITT Sydney Bush Walkers A.I.F .
GEORGE LODER Trampers Club R.A.A.F .
JAMES McCORMACK Y.M.C.A. Ramblers R.A.A.F.
GORDON MANNELL Sydney Bush Walkers R.A.A.F .
MAC NICHOLS Y.M.C.A. Ramblers A.I.F.
ARNOLD RAY Coast & Mountain Walkers R.A.A.F.
CHARLES ROBERTS Coast & Mountain Walkers A.I.F.
NORMAN SAILL Sydney Bush Walkers R.A.A.F.
GORDON SMITH Sydney Bush Walkers A.I.F.
GORDON TOWNSEND Coast &. Mountain Walkers R.A. A. F .
JACK WALL Campfire Club R.A.A.F .
In proximity to plaque 1 is a very personal memorial, dedicated to the 2/17th Battalion Australian Imperial Force. It is titled “Mates” for Gordon Broome, a member of Sydney Bush Walkers. It was likely established in 1953-56 and attached to a vertical cliff face. The location is not obvious. Those wishing to view this plaque must scramble over an awkward boulder and then look upwards. The plaque is higher than normal eye height. Since the plaque faces south, a reasonable guess is it has been positioned to follow the sun as per The Ode, “At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.”
Gordon, nickname “Broomie”, is mentioned many times in a history of ‘B Company’ 2/17th Battalion in actions from North Africa/Tobruk to New Guinea where he was wounded. Post-Second World War, Gordon was active for many years in the 2/17th Battalion Association.
The 2/17th is allowed a special honour reserved for Battalions in the Second Australian Imperial Form that were part of the siege of Tobruk in 1942. This is referenced in the 'T' shape on the plaque.
The following additional information was offered by a member of the 2/17th Battalion Association:
The diamond shape to the right, of the Tobruk “T”, is the ‘colour patch’ of the 17th Battalion of the First World War. The left hand diamond shape is the ‘colour patch’ on embarkation of the 2/17th Battalion to the war in North Africa. Among the many items at St Thomas Church that remember the 17th and 2/17th Battalion, are battle honour flags in a side nave.
The 2/17th Battalion was disbanded on 8 February 1946 at Ingleburn camp. Only around 30 veterans from active service are still alive. The association is carried on by soldiers who enlisted before the disbanding.
Each year, on the Sunday before Anzac Day a special service of remembrance is held in St Thomas Anglican Church, North Sydney. The church holds significant icons to the 17th Battalion, from the First World War and the 2/17th Battalion.
In 1953, Gordon was part of a sub-committee to install an extra plaque in the church close to the 'Pozieres Cross'. Delays in the process meant the plaque was not unveiled until 1956. This timing would suggest the “MATES” plaque may have been installed around this time.
In memory of
in World War II
Their splendour shall never fade
2/17 AUST. INF. BN. A.I.F
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