History

THE BUNGENDORE SOLDIERS’ MEMORIAL

An extract with permission from Our Soldiers : Bungendore & The Great War

Glenda Ellis 2007     ISBN 978 1 74027 487 6

When the chain of events beginning with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo and culminating in Germany's declaration of war on Russia on 4 August 1914 had run their distance and the first real 'world war' started, Australian men flocked in their thousands to join the action.  Australia's political leaders were as one in supporting the British Empire and its allies.  The then Prime Minister, Joseph Cook (an Englishman) and his successor, Andrew Fisher (a Scot) pledged Australian allegiance to the motherland and her allies.  The country might be in the midst of a federal election, but the conflict in Europe was not a topic to debate.

In Bungendore, a town of approximately 1,000 eligible voters, the mood of the time is reflected.  Men from various backgrounds but predominantly single and unskilled, enlisted and left to ‘join the fray’.  Among the first to join were Patrick Joseph Donnelly aged 20, station overseer from 'Douglas' on the south-western shore of Lake George and Joseph Lewis McKay also 20 years old, a labourer from 'Gidleigh' a large land-holding on the southern side of the town.  Percy Douglas 24, a tram conductor and adopted son of Mrs McElroy from Mount Fairy to the north of Bungendore enlisted a day before his friend Arthur Carnell.  Donnelly's official 'joining' date is 14th August, McKay's is 19th August and Douglas' not ten days later: 26th August 1914.

Others joined by the end of 1914: Leslie Lundie, labourer son of Charles, a local butcher, on 3rd October and William McKay, 26, Joseph's married brother, on 15th October.  During November Charles Hopkins and David (Dave) Jacombs, the book-keeper at the Bungendore Freezing Works joined up, and Thomas Rutledge aged 26, grazier from 'Gidleigh', and a lieutenant in the local troop of the Light Horse, after training in September joined the 7th Light Horse.  In December Albert Masters, aged 24, a motor engineer, Frank Bluskie, 36, and Arthur James Matthews, 28, both labourers, joined.  The boys from Bungendore were typical of those who formed the 1st Australian Imperial Force (1 AIF) to participate in the conflict of the Great War.

The Armistice was signed in November 1918, and Australia counted the cost: 417,000 men had enlisted; 330,000 men had served, 60,000 had died and 160,000 had been wounded. 2,000 nurses volunteered, at least 1805 served.  Few families were untouched by the war.  If by some chance they had not lost a son, brother or husband they certainly felt the loss of a nephew, uncle or cousin.  In some cases a sister or aunt had not returned.  One in five of those Australians who enlisted in the war failed to return and the losses were felt throughout the nation.  Those who did return were not always recognisable as the carefree men who marched away and sometimes it seemed the land made fit for heroes did not acknowledge the makers.

Relatives coped with their bereavement in different ways during the war.  Following the landing at Gallipoli, lists of those missing or killed in action were published in newspapers or outside the local post office so most people in a locality knew of the losses from their district.  In Bungendore, men who had been farewelled by their football clubs, presented with wristlet watches, and escorted to the local station with the brass band playing patriotic airs (as for example Trooper Nat Smith on 5th May 1915) were the positive side of a coin.  The same newspaper that reported Smith's departure carried news of the death of Private Finch, 30 years old, a son of Mr Edward Finch, recently manager of the Bank of NSW in the township.  Mourning was both private and public, individual and shared.  The wounded who returned before the war ended, by their presence reminded the families of servicemen and women of the loss of loved ones or acquaintances who would not return at all.  A Recruiting Committee organised rousing 'Welcome Home' functions for the repatriated at which they were presented with medallions and invited to encourage others to join up.  Some communities erected memorials to their losses before the end of the war, and in Bungendore at a Committee Meeting of the School of Arts on 1st September 1916 'Mr [J] Edmunds suggested that the Literary Institute should be decorated with either a Roll of Honour or framed photographs of the soldiers who had left Bungendore for the war.' By June 1917 the School of Arts had '... an Honour Board that does credit alike to the residents who erected it and the names of the many heroes who have left the district to fight for the Empire.

Almost without exception, towns, villages and districts throughout Australia gave immediate attention to the commemoration of their war dead once hostilities ceased in 1918.  There was a need and desire to remember and show gratitude and by 1919, aware of examples from the South African war and anticipating the erection of more in some townships, the Nationalist government of New South Wales was persuaded to appoint a War Memorials Advisory Board.  This led the Department of Local Government to publish a pamphlet on 'War Memorials' in July 1920.

Seven types of memorials were recommended, with suggested designs for each:

1 An Arch over a public place;
2 A Gateway to a public park;
3 A Central Road Garden, with a pillar or other feature on which to record the names of soldiers;
4 A Memorial Avenue, with a tree for each soldier from the district;
5 An Obelisk in stone;
6 A Column in stone;
7 A Fountain.

Local committees were encouraged to 'test the suitability of any design' submitted and ask artists to produce 'a plaster or clay model' for consideration. the pamphlet seemed to discourage the erection of statues, stating 'Any one of these [seven designs], even though small, can be an emblem of the dignity, simplicity, yet grandeur of the character of the Australian Soldier. Any one of them, well designed, will be a better memorial than a poorly-executed, expressionless statue.'  The NSW government of the day had been influenced by Mr John Sulman (and no doubt others), who were concerned that communities had erected memorials in which the creators' artistic qualities fell short of their emotional content, Miranda's figure of a soldier exemplifying the argument.  NSW appointed a War Memorials Advisory Board in 1919.  It was given statutory authority under the Local Government Act to approve the design and site of monuments erected in a public place and shires and municipalities were so informed in January 1920.  By this time, of course, a number of memorials had already been erected and others went ahead without submission and approval.  Some measure of 'success' was achieved, however, in that figures of soldiers on memorials are less numerous in New South Wales than Victoria where no such bureaucracy was established.

War memorials are certainly the most numerous and widespread of all public monuments, in the Western world.  The earliest were those erected by the Egyptian Pharaohs to proclaim their military power and they usually took the form of an obelisk.  An excellent example stands in Istanbul: the top of the obelisk erected by Tuthmosis 111 (1479-1425 BC).  The Romans popularised commemorative columns, the best known being that of Trajan; while it is the Greek depiction of a weeping or mourning woman (especially on tombstones) that precedes the mourning soldier.  In Christian times the cross became the most familiar memorial symbol.  Cenotaphs and arches came later, possibly with the association of memorials and church building, although the triumphal arch belongs to Roman times.  It is epitomised in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, begun by Napoleon in 1806, completed in 1836 and having engraved thereon the names of Napoleon's generals with those who died underlined.  France's unknown soldier was buried beneath the arch in 1920.

Australians in the twentieth century thus followed a tradition in the erection of memorials to those who served their king and country.  The 1914-18 War had its precedents in the Sudan and Boer Wars but the magnitude of the Great War certainly surpassed these involvements and Soldiers' Memorial Committees were formed soon after (if not before) hostilities ceased, to plan the manner in which the community might honour the sacrifice of those who died and those who served.  Initially it seems that these memorials took the form of a list of names or Roll of Honour, and these existed before November 1918.  The Braidwood Review of 19th November 1918, reports the unveiling of an 'Honor (sic) Roll at Jembaicumbene '... to the ex-pupils of the Jembaicumbene public school and residents who had taken part in the great war'.  The ceremony took place on 16 November and the Mayor of Braidwood '... complimented the school upon its honor roll.  It was, he said, a credit to the residents of a small village like Jembaicumbene, while in a town like Braidwood they had not so far provided an honor roll.' The report hints obliquely at another possible reason for the erection of memorials: some communities may have felt pressured into action by adjacent towns or by their leading citizens.

The 'Memorial Record Form' provided by the Local Government Department in New South Wales indicates that in August 1920 Bungendore applied for official recognition of the location of an Honour Roll in the local School of Arts.  The application was stamped with the seal of the Shire of Yarrowlumla and signed by the Shire Clerk and the modest but sturdy wooden memorial officially joined that recording the names of participants in the Boer War.  It is now in the Bungendore War Memorial Hall.  Listed thereon are names of four nurses and 138 servicemen and it has a number of interesting features:

* The four nurses are listed in the top section of the Roll of Honour, separate from the three columns of names of the men who served.
* 'J L McKay' is listed first, perhaps reflecting his father's justifiable claim on the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour Circular that he was ‘The first man to volunteer from Bungendore'.  Thereafter alphabetical order is followed for most of the three columns, with the final 29 defying the pattern - the order does not appear to relate to the date of enlistment and the names are as much 'from the district' as the others. Two of those killed were to die in the last months of the war but they had enlisted in December 1915 and May 1917 respectively.
*
The names do not differentiate soldiers from officers in any way, nor do they differentiate by grouping those who served and those who died.  The dead have the word 'killed' in small lettering after their names.
* There are no dates on the board and no reference to the Great War.  It is, purely and simply, a Roll of Honour, a list of names.

During 1920 another jog to the local collective conscience may have been given by the presentation by the War Trophies Commission of '... a German machine Gun captured in the Great War by the AIF, to the town of Bungendore ...', trustees had to be appointed to ensure the safety of the weapon, and Councillor McAlister, licensee of the Lake George Hotel in Bungendore, was given that task.

The machine gun was placed at the back of the hall in the School of Arts, where it remained at least until February 1927, when it was decided to investigate the possibility of moving it to 'be mounted on a concrete stand under the Flag Pole in front of the Institute.'

It is clear, however, that the Memorial Roll of Honour, first created in 1917 and officially acknowledged in September 1920, for some was not sufficient acknowledgement.  Perhaps the trophy machine gun in the School of Arts prompted further thinking.  What is certain is that in December of that year a notice was printed and distributed calling a meeting in the School of Arts at 3:30 pm on Saturday 11th 'to inaugurate a fund for the erection of a Soldier Memorial and to Elect a Committee and Officers to carry out the suggestions of the Meeting'.  On 14th December the honorary secretary (John Oswald McAlister, Esq, proprietor of the Lake George Hotel), wrote to Col Thomas LF Rutledge MLA, owner of 'Gidleigh' station and one of those named on the Roll, informing him that a meeting of the residents of Bungendore had ‘...decided to erect a monument in the Park as a Soldiers' Memorial ...' Some concerns were felt, however, because 'A rumour has been circulated to the effect that objection might be raised to this form of Memorial by the authorities, and the Committee has instructed me to find out from you if this is so, also what procedure must be taken.'

By 20th December Rutledge replied to McAlister with a brief letter indicating that he had placed their proposal before the Minister for Local Government and the Minister's Secretary (C A Akhurst) had assured Rutledge that 'the matter is receiving consideration'.  Bungendore's application would have arrived at an opportune time in the operation of the newly formed War Memorials Advisory Board.  Almost one month later, on 10th January 1921, Rutledge wrote again to McAlister and the committee enclosing a copy of a letter from the Department of Local Government, warning '..that Section 511 of the Local Government Act 1919, provides that "monuments shall not be erected in public places or public reserves unless and until the design and situation thereof shall have been approved by the Minister.’  The monument is apparently to be erected in a public park.  It will be necessary therefore to submit the design of the monument and plan and particulars of the proposed site for approval.'  The plans should go before the War Memorials Advisory Board which would make a report on '...the artistic merits of the design and the suitableness of the site', which would form the basis for a decision in the matter.  It is possible that the Committee also received a copy of the bulletin regarding memorials at some stage.

Thomas Rutledge MLA, from Bungendore, would certainly have been aware of the existence of such requirements but his attitude to such a body as the Public Monuments Advisory Board (as it became in 1921) must remain conjectural. The Bungendore Committee, perhaps naively, felt that their proposal was as good as approved and moved to the next stage - construction of the monument.  At least one tradesman sought the contract.  O W Cartwright, Monumental Mason of Young, penned a letter to McAlister on 26 July: 'As you know Mr A Coppin has left Queanbeyan and come back to Young and Mr Coppin and his Family were staying with me till he got a house.  And he told me to drop you a line.  As there is going to be a monument erected to our Boys memory.  And I thought I would drop you a line to let you know that I will only be to pleased to give you a price.  I will be at Braidwood about the last week in September.  I have the Soldiers Memorial to erect there.  I suppose you have heard ... It is a large Monument with an Australian Figure standing at ease on top 5ft 6 High.  Mr MacAlister (sic) if there is anything doing kindly let me know...’

The Braidwood Memorial was built, despite the official warnings about 'poorly designed statues'.  The figure of a soldier that stood atop the base was the work of an Italian artist, not Mr Cartwright, and when unveiled not one year later, on 5th June 1922, the Queanbeyan-Canberra Advocate correspondent heaped praise upon it: 'It is unquestionably a very fine piece of sculptural art and harmonises perfectly...' Local political identities, including Colonel Rutledge, attended the ceremony and delivered addresses.

The Bungendore Committee either ignored or rejected Cartwright's overture, because on 10th August 1921 they sought 'designs and approximate prices including erection' from James Turner, Monumental Mason, 'Established 1860', of Goulburn.  Members expected to spend 'not less than £400 or more than £600.'28 The very next day Turner could reply in a typewritten letter from his Goulburn Marble and Granite Works in Verner Street that he had the letter requesting designs and suggesting costs.  His immediate concern was the number of names to be engraved because this could mean additional charges of from £50 to £100.  He 'would gladly come up and view the place where it is proposed to erect the monument if you think it would be worthwhile, and could then forward you a selection of suitable designs.'

A prompt reply from the Committee Secretary, J C McAlister, on 12 August informed Turner that the cost was to cover everything 'lettering and all expenses', but it could not bear the cost of a visit.  The writer warned that 'the Committee does not give any guarantee for the contract, although it is probable you will be given it' if he called to see the site.  Turner acknowledged the letter, assured McAlister he sought no preferential treatment, and pointed out that '... it will assist me in selecting the designs if I know the position where it is proposed to put the monument...'  He was prepared to 'run up in the car some time in the coming week'.  By the end of August Turner could submit a selection of four designs for consideration.  They ranged in price from £560 to £810, two featuring archways 'sketched for the Goulburn Memorial', one a spire and one a figure in bronze or marble.  He would make a 'proper drawing to scale' for submission to the Advisory Board when a decision was made as 'these drawings cost money.'  An allowance of £60 for lettering was made 'after seeing the memorial tablet in the School of Arts' and 'prices are for the work erected at Bungendore.'  Dark gray granite from Turner's quarry at Lockyersleigh would be  used.

As the prices for the four designs ranged from £560 to £810, it is not surprising that McAlister's next communication, indicating preference for an arch as in the first and least expensive design, including lettering, should reiterate that 'At the greatest estimate the Committee will not have more than £700 to cover everything.'  Turner accepted the challenge.  He wrote on th9 September including a modified drawing from 'No 1 design', proposing various modifications to the 'pannels' [sic] and the moulding on the design, and advising 'These arches look best if fairly large, and would strongly recommend the Committee to select the larger size if the design is approved.'  Some serious discussion and calculation must have followed, but scrawled records of a meeting on 17 September, attended by McAlister (chair) George Winter and Samuel Curtis Masters give scant details.  'Resolved that Arch be erected to the 3/4" scale at cost of £820.  The matter to be put in the hands of Turner at once'.  Two days later the decision was formalised: the job could begin 'as soon as possible'.

There is no record of dissension as regards the cost, which had risen from between £400 and £600 to £820, a not inconsiderable amount.  One can ponder the reasoning behind this: desperation at the thought that the monument may not suitably reflect the depth of the district's gratitude?  A wish to be seen by surrounding townships as equal in the expenditure and magnificence of the structure?  Personal determination on the part of Committee members?  Other towns in the region were working towards the erection of memorials but none had yet been unveiled so there should not have been undue pressure.  Queanbeyan, for example, was much further behind in its planning; it was not until March 1922, a month before the Braidwood memorial's unveiling that 'A resolution was carried, moved by Mr Calthorpe and seconded by Dr Christie that the cost of the monument erected be not less than £500'.  Tenders for the erection of the monument were called, to close on 15 April.  The column was built '...on the site opposite the Court House ...' by Mr Lyford, and officially unveiled on Saturday, 15th December 1923.  Bungendore, a smaller community than Queanbeyan, chose to construct a memorial at considerably more expense.  Calculated by the '72 rule', £400 in 1990s value would not be less than $20 000 in 1990, and the final cost was considerably more than the initial proposal.

The selection of Turner to construct Bungendore's memorial is also of passing interest as it would appear that no other tenders were considered.  His work was certainly known in the area, he had been engaged by Thomas Rutledge between September 1912 and January 1913 to erect the tombstone/headstone for his late father's grave in the Carwoola churchyard cemetery.  The slow progress made by Turner in this endeavour, apparent in Rutledge's correspondence of the time, would not indicate good business practice by today's standards.  Turner's was, however, an established business with reasonable railway access to Bungendore, which might well have influenced his selection over that of Mr Cartwright from Young, who had indicated early interest.

Aware of the necessity to obtain approval both for the situation and the design of the memorial from the War Memorials Advisory Board before construction began, Mr Turner in November visited the chairman in Sydney with his sketch of the proposed monument, where John Sulman "... told me that the Board would only deal with the Committee, and that they were not supposed to know me in the matter at all ... you had better transmit [the plan] to Sydney at once as the Board meet next Monday.'  Mr Sulman had assured Turner that the Board had no objections to the archway, but evidently bureaucratic procedures must be adhered to.  McAlister complied, forwarding the 'Plan by J Turner of Goulburn of a Memorial Arch which this Committee proposes to erect as an entrance to the Public Park in Bungendore, in the middle of the South side fronting the main street.'  At that time there was a fence surrounding the public park in Bungendore, so the idea of an archway entrance would not be unusual.  Today the arch stands as a building set apart from any connecting features and it is definitely not an 'entrance'.

Haste caused delay. A brusque communication from the Chairman of the War Memorials Committee of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Melbourne, dated 18th November 1921, informed the Bungendore group that the design had nothing to do with them and was being returned.  Mr McAlister, undaunted, changed the date on his letter, altered the address slightly, and sent it off again.  'I have been instructed by the Committee to submit this design to the Advisory Board for their approval, and will be pleased to hear in due course if this is granted.'

The plans were too late for consideration at the November meeting but a missive was received from Sydney acknowledging '...receipt of your letter.  It will, together with the design and plan which accompanied it, be laid before the Public Monuments Advisory Board at its next meeting ...'

On 1 February 1922 approval was finally granted. Another letter informed the Bungendore Soldiers' Memorial Committee that Mr J Garlick, the Under Secretary had '... pleasure in forwarding under separate cover, for the Committee's consideration, the design amended by the Government Architect's staff under the supervision of the Public Monuments Advisory Board.  I am directed by the Minister to inform you that he has pleasure in granting his approval to the design as revised and also to the proposed site.’  Just what those amendments were must be left to speculation - Turner's August submission mentioned a 'rising sun design on the centre tablet in bronze and bronze ornament on side pannels (sic),’ but the September letter is concerned mostly with the placement of mouldings and "pannels".  The Bungendore memorial avoided controversy by choosing a design that did not include a figure; it seems likely that the amendments were minor.  A photograph of the original approved version exists in the Archives Office of New South Wales, along with almost one hundred other submissions from places as disparate as Wagga Wagga (five suggested designs), Albury, Taralga, Penrith, Nimmitabel and Randwick.  On some can be seen an approval stamp and date while others are mute evidence of communities complying with official requirements.  The Bungendore design has the approval stamp in the corner.  Turner had secured the contract, the design was approved, but apparently he did not begin work immediately.  A newspaper report headed 'Italians for Goulburn', refers to Mr Jas Turner's pleasure at securing the services of 'two quarrymen from the recent batch of Italian immigrants.'  Difficulty in obtaining 'skilled granite workers' was a concern leading to reports of the quarry's contemplated closure at that time.  For whatever reasons it was February 1924 before the Bungendore correspondent to the  Goulburn Evening Penny Post wrote that '... a start has been made on the Soldiers' Memorial in the Park, and when completed it should look very imposing.  It is in a good situation opposite the Post Office and School of Arts.  The contractor expects to soon have the job finished.'  There is a further report in April:' ... The soldiers' memorial arch is nearly completed and the official opening will probably take place this month.'  This would no doubt be the thoughts of most observers, especially with the approach of Anzac Day.

Evidently the construction was finished soon thereafter because a letter to Mr Francis Leahy dated 15th April 1924, signed by Ewan Turner and on new letterhead, requested payment for the Bungendore War Memorial.  The total cost for the work is as had been agreed three years earlier - £820.  Possibly the arch was the centre for local Anzac Day commemoration services that year but neither the Goulburn correspondent nor the Queanbeyan Age carried a report, so this seems unlikely.  It is not until some months later that we learn more: 'The arch erected in Bungendore park at a cost of about £800 has been completed for some time past, but up to the present no official unveiling has taken place.  There is a very much divided opinion as to whether this money could not have been put to a better use.  It is argued that if Mr J Chinnery's idea of building a memorial [hall] had been carried out it would have been a far greater tribute than a useless arch, while it would have been a very useful and rent producing idea...' Further in the report mention is made of the closure of Bungendore's freezing works, the non-operation of the local jockey club and the increase in the number of empty dwellings in the town, indeed '... business is very slack.'

Without over-emphasising the point, one cannot help but consider the fact that there were some members of the Bungendore community who had lost the enthusiasm and altruism that led them to erect the memorial in the first place.  By 1924 the Great War, for many, was in the past and present difficulties such as employment and an income were more important.  Memorials to Australians involved in the Great War were being erected and unveiled throughout the country during the 1920s with different degrees of community harmony, and it seems that very few were built without some controversy, be it regards design, siting or finances.  Bungendore's experience therefore was certainly not unique and pales beside the drama played out in some surrounding towns.  At Queanbeyan a meeting in March 1922 resolved to erect a monument and the site and cost was decided in April 1922 . It was unveiled on 15 December 1923.  The Albury War Memorial was unveiled on 28 April 1925, eight months before the Rocky Hill tower of Goulburn.  In that town newspaper reports indicate considerable controversy and some anger over delays experienced, first in selecting the design and then in the siting of the memorial.

On 28 April 1924 the Hon Sec of the Bungendore War Memorial Committee forwarded £350.15.9 in part payment of the account, assuring Messres J Turner and Sons that 'The Committee is dealing with the matter of the balance...' and promising that '… same will be remitted to you in a short time.'  Ewan Turner pressed for further payment.  On 27 May he wrote to the new honorary secretary of the Soldiers' Memorial committee in Bungendore, Mr John Francis (Jack) Donnelly, former RQMS of the First Aust Division, later Lt Col of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, and now a local Stock and Station Agent: 'I would be pleased if you would make an effort to let me have a cheque for whole or portion of the outstanding account in connection with the Bungendore War memorial. ... any portion of this money would be of great assistance to me in carrying on the business.'

A meeting was held on 31 May 1924 with Mr Curtis (Sam) Masters acting as Chairman, and attended by Messres George Winter, Jack Donnelly, WG Hyles and Frank Leahy.  This meeting agreed to the appointment of Mr Hyles to the Committee in place of John McAlister Esq who, indeed, was '...to be written to and asked to resign from the Memorial Committee on act [sic] of his leaving the District.'

More interestingly perhaps was the third proposal: that ten people be written to regards promised donations towards paying off the Memorial debt.  Another meeting was scheduled for the following Saturday.  Existing records show that James Maslin from Carwoola and Thomas Rutledge of Gidleigh each forwarded £50 in November and December.  No correspondence exists for 1925 but it appears that relations between the new Committee and its first honorary secretary had plummeted.  In March 1926 McAlister, now living at Tarula, Young, wrote a formal letter to Donnelly, declaring: 'Re Bungendore Soldier's [sic] Memorial fund. ... I have been all through my Books from 1920 & 22 and the only item I can find is where I drew a cheque for 25 pounds the 30th Nov 1920, and the but [sic] of cheque does not say what the amount is for.  However I am quite convinced, that whatever moneys I received on behalf of the Memorial fund, was placed in the Government Saving Bank Goulburn P O and there it remained until drawn by me, at the Committee request, it is unfortunate the money did not pass through my own account first then I would have a record of the amount.'  He was '... quite certain that the amount you have received is correct, so far as I am concerned... I trust you will be able to trace some one who will be able to throw some light and information on to the matter.  Curtis Masters would no doubt have a good idea of the amount.'  Later that month, McAlister wrote again, this time to ''Dear Jack[Donnelly]'.  He was now in receipt of more detailed information - the Government Savings Bank particulars of the funds.  They totalled £350.15.9, covering the period from February 1921 to March 1924.  It is worth noting that most of this amount, £294.17.0, was available at the beginning of the project, in February 1921, when the idea of a memorial to Bungendore's soldiers costing 'not less than £400 or more than £600' had been initiated.  The Bungendore Soldiers' Memorial Fund in March 1926 was £237.18.3 short of the amount due to James Turner for the erection of the arch.

In the township of Cooma plans were under way to perform the unveiling of its War Memorial on Monday 26th April that year, 'Anzac Day falling on a Sunday...' but there is no report of similar celebrations in Bungendore.  Some arrangement must have been made either to write off the debt or to pay it over a period of time and the people of Bungendore evidently accepted the memorial archway's existence.  Local lore has it that 'The ceremony and service which is attended by the majority of Bungendore residents and children was first organised by Colonel Jack Donnelly when he returned from the First World War in 1920 and has continued each year since then, excepting the years 1940-46.'  Small ceremonies were certainly held in the village, usually based on one of the churches, in some years during the 1920s and no doubt Donnelly played some role in instigating memorial services in the town.  He had become the secretary of the Memorial Committee, after all.  But there does not appear to have been an official unveiling of the archway . It has nevertheless become the centrepiece of Anzac Day celebrations as well as other memorial ceremonies and is an accepted part of the village's streetscape.

Recorded on its south support faces are 142 names of those men and women 'who served'. and 'who made the supreme sacrifice'.  The left support lists four nurses and, in alphabetical order, twenty-five who did not return.  The right support for the arch commemorates one hundred and thirteen who enlisted and returned, again alphabetically; no distinction is made between officers and men.  It stands almost directly opposite the School of Arts where the Roll of Honour was first placed in 1916 and in which the first meeting to discuss the erection of a memorial was called in 1919.

In August 1993 upgrading of the Bungendore Memorial was undertaken by a group from the town - the surrounds were renovated and new gold lettering replaced the old which was somewhat faded.  This same small group has, for approximately the past thirty years, organised the Anzac Day memorial ceremony each April.  Few of the onlookers or participants know of, and certainly none would wish on them, the host of vicissitudes that befell their predecessors who set out with a simple aim: '... the erection of a SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL ....'.

A footnoted version of this article may be read in the book

‘Our Soldiers : Bungendore and the Great War'  by Glenda Ellis