The first of many grants to commemorate the centenary of ANZAC in our local Casey electorate has been approved by the Federal Government after recommendations from our local ANZAC Centenary committee, says Federal Member for Casey, Tony Smith.
“A grant of $5,200 has been approved to help provide interpretative signage and a plaque at the site of a large Militia Camp at Lilydale and the site of a mock battle at Coldstream. The unveiling ceremonies surrounding these will also help mark the start of the important centenary commemorations and raise awareness of an extraordinary episode in our local history”.
“The site, where the popular Lillydale Lake is today, hosted a week long ‘Camp of Instruction’ for 3000 soldiers of the 13th Infantry Brigade between 7-14 February, 1914 – some six months before the beginning of WWI”.
“Their training included company and battalion drills, musketry practice and a mock battle at Mount Mary near Coldstream” Mr Smith said.
The Commanding Officer for the camp was Colonel John Monash (later Major-General Sir John Monash). This event is considered to be the most important in his pre-war military career.
On 12 February1914, the camp was visited by the Inspector General of Overseas Forces, General Sir Ian Hamilton and the Governor-General Lord Denman. They observed the mock battle at Coldstream where Monash and Hamilton held an important meeting under a gum tree, an event so significant to both men that they would often refer to it during and after the ensuing war years.
Many of the men attending the camp were on active service with the AIF in the year after this event. Ironically some would serve under Hamilton when he was made the Allied Commander at Gallipoli and some would serve under Monash when he took command of the AIF in Europe in 1918. Sadly many of them were killed in action.
The Rotary Club of Lilydale is coordinating the production and installation of the plaques and storyboard signs and have organised two ceremonies to mark these important events.
On 9 February at 2.00pm, the unveiling of the plaques and storyboard sign will take place at Lillydale Lake.
The Lillydale Lake ceremony will include a fly over by a WWI bi-plane, military band and personnel, and attended by Michael Bennett, great grandson of Sir John Monash. Air League Cadets and The Australian Great War Association will also take part in the ceremony, and a book will be launched on the history of the camp.
On 13 February at 11.00am a storyboard sign will be unveiled at Maroondah Hwy Coldstream.
Media Contact – Andrew Hallam 9727 0799