A total of 68 trees have been replaced and 90 commemorative plaques re-installed along Ballarat’s famed Avenue of Honour, the first avenue of its kind in Australia that carries the names of 3,801 World War 1 service personnel.
Arborists conduct an annual inspection of the avenue to identify any trees in need of replacement due to age, severe weather events or vehicle damage.
Of those trees replaced,18 are in memory of men who lost their lives on the First World War battlefields. Nine of those men have no known grave, so their tree and plaque in Ballarat’s Avenue is the closest resemblance to a personalised or named headstone.
One of the trees replaced is in memory of serviceman Frederick Rawlings who was killed in the ill-fated charge at Fromelles in July 1916. His last resting place remained a mystery for over 90 years until a search, prompted by amateur researchers, led to the discovery of burial pits on the edge of Pheasant Wood near Fromelles.
A subsequent DNA matching program led to the identification and reburial of more than 200 Australians killed at Fromelles including Frederick Rawlings, who now rests under his named headstone in the Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery.
The City of Ballarat shares responsibility for the management and maintenance of the trees and plaques along the Avenue with a number of groups including the Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee, residents who live along the avenue and the families of those whose service is commemorated by the trees and plaques.
Those with a known grave whose trees have been replanted are: Victor Jolly, killed in France August 18th 1918, Patrick Maher (25/3/19 England), Harold Dixon (23/1/16 Egypt), Samuel Martin (1/9/16 France), Lewis Mudie MM (13/10/17 Belgium), Joseph Quinlan (12/7/18 France), Donald Chisolm (2/9/15 Gallipoli, ‘Southland’), Thomas Lakeland (10/9/1915 Gallipoli) and Frederick Rawlings (20/7/16 France) while those with no known grave are Frank Stephens (4/10/17 Belgium), Owen Eason (29/8/16 France), Frederick Harris (11/4/17 France), Horace Lucas (19/7/16 France), Victor Lepp (26/8/16 France), Richard Kincade (20/9/17 Belgium), Samuel Brew (16/8/18 France), Albert King (13/11/17 Palestine) and Everett Rickard (3/5/17 France).