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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Town’s sacrifice remembered

ANZAC Day was commemorated in Denmark last week with a solemn gathering at the War Memorial on Hollings Road, where the community reflected on the service and sacrifices made in all wars. Bev McGuinness, President of the Denmark Historical Society, addressed the gathered crowd, noting that this year marked 110 years since the start of World War I.

At the outbreak of World War I, Denmark had a population of only 200, yet 83 men and two women enlisted, with 37 men making the ultimate sacrifice. The two women, Nellie Saw and Florence McKenzie, who served as nurses, tragically succumbed to diseases contracted during the war. Their names are among those listed on the Denmark War Memorial, erected and opened in 1932.

Among the honored soldiers is Daniel Clark, who displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Pozieres and was later killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. His brother, John Clark, is commemorated by the John Clark Memorial Band, which performed at the service.

Another soldier, Frank Read, is remembered through the Frank Read Reserve on South Coast Highway. The Denmark Historical Society holds a photograph of Frank Read standing at the door of his cottage, holding a teapot.

During World War II, Denmark’s population had grown to about 400, with 21 residents losing their lives in the conflict. Among them was RAAF Flight Sergeant Edward Laing, whose plane was shot down over Holland in 1943. An 8-year-old boy, Gerrit Zijlstra, captured a photograph of the bombers overhead, which he later presented to Ted’s brother, Geoff Laing, along with a piece of the plane wreckage.

William Ravenhill, who served in WWI for Britain and received the Military Medal for his service on the Somme, later settled in Australia under the Group Settlement Scheme. He tragically died in a motor accident in Egypt during WWII and is buried at Tel El Kabir cemetery.

Harry Tysoe, captured at the fall of Singapore during WWII, passed away in a Japanese prisoner of war camp from beriberi. His brother Fred, a Navy serviceman, survived a ship torpedoing in the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1953, the community added ‘wings’ to the Denmark War Memorial to honor WWII servicemen and women who lost their lives. Mrs. McGuinness emphasized the importance of recognizing not only those who fought and died but also the contributions of individuals on the home front, including police, firefighters, Red Cross volunteers, and the farmers who sustained essential activities during wartime.

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