Upcoming commemoration of town memorial

EARLY DAYS: Although the date is unknown this photo shows Millicent's striking cenotaph in its landscaped and fenced grounds.

Caroline Hammat

On December 5, 1923 Millicent’s Cross of Sacrifice was unveiled by the South Australian Governor of the day Lieutenant General Sir Tom Bridges.

Next Tuesday December 5 at 11.30am the community are invited to attend a centenary commemoration of the unveiling.

Members of the RSL Millicent, Member for MacKillop Nick McBride and Wattle Range Council mayor Des Noll will lay wreaths and members of the public are welcome to place wreaths or tributes.

In 1920, a public meeting was called in Millicent to discuss the erection of a memorial to Millicent soldiers who lost their lives in the great war.

Those in attendance suggested several ideas from adding a wing to the Thyne Memorial Hospital, an avenue of trees and an obelisk or similar on the crest of Mount Muirhead.

Eventually a prize of five pounds was offered for the most acceptable suggestion.

Newspaper articles and letters to the editor printed in the South Eastern Times during this period urged the community to give generously to the memorial appeal.

There were regular working bees to prepare the site eventually chosen, the rotunda park reserve opposite the Somerset Hotel.

39 memorial designs were submitted with the final choice, by H.B. Corben and Sons from Monumental Masons Clifton Hill Victoria, chosen at a cost of 1,300 pounds.

As described in a 1924 edition of The South Eastern Times it would be a plain but most striking memorial of dressed grey granite from Harcourt Quarries in Victoria.

“The total height is 24 feet and the main arm of the cross 16 feet high,” the article stated.

“The only ornamentation will be a great bronze sword, a symbol of sacrifice.

“The dedication and names of fallen soldiers will be welded in bronze into the face of a polished granite slab on a portion of the base.”

The unveiling of the cross was a grand affair with every school in the district granted a holiday.

2,000 people attended to witness the ceremony of unveiling by the state governor.

Later that evening dinner was served at the Grand Hotel which offered roast pigeon as an entree.

Of 400 men who enlisted from this district for World War I, 50 would make the supreme sacrifice and are acknowledged on the monument.

Following World War II, 24 names of those who died during the war were added to the cross.

Research undertaken in 2017 by the RSL Millicent and the South East Family History Group revealed the name of Private Dennis Nelson who died serving in the Vietnam War.

Consequently, a Vietnam War section was added to the cross in that year with Private Nelson’s name included.