Service to commemorate Battle of Pozieres
The Townsville RSL will conduct a basic service of remembrance starting at 10am at The Cenotaph in ANZAC Park on The Strand to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the Battle.
It’s largely because of the work of national serviceman Neville Hines that the ceremony will take place.
He hopes it will become an annual event and that there will be a suitable memorial to the men of Townsville who were killed in the Battle for Pozieres.
It might be a long time before he is able to compile anything approaching a definitive list, however, as the records are vague, and, at times, misleading.
He works intermittently on a spreadsheet listing the names of those men who listed Townsville as the town of their birth when they enlisted – more than 1200 men.
“I look them up individually to see if they survived the war, or, if they did not, where they died,” Neville said.
“Often, it’s not specific – it just says ‘France’, so you have to go further, so it’s a fairly laborious task.”
So far, he has found one Townsville-born soldier who was killed at Pozieres, but it’s not the numbers from Townsville, particularly, that drives Neville.
The main plaque he proposes to display on the memorial he envisages quotes war correspondent Charles Bean who wrote: “The fields of Pozieres – more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other spot on earth”.
One of those Australians was Neville’s great uncle PTE Leonard Irvine Hines, a New south Welshman.
In consultation with the Townsville City Council, Neville proposes the main plaque on the memorial to read:
“A debt as yet unpaid”.
In memory of the soldiers born in Townsville and killed in action in the Battle of Pozieres.
There were 23,000 Australian casualties, of whom 6741 lost their lives in the Battle of Pozieres (4112 have never been found or identified). They rest in the fields of Pozieres.
Neville said the council had for the past two years agreed to conduct the service, and has now agreed to the memorial.
All he has to do is to come up with the money to pay for it – about $20,000 by his reckoning.
That’s his next challenge which he hopes to tackle in the coming 12 months.