Each ANZAC and Remembrance Day, we remember the courageous soldiers who fought bravely for our country.
Usually, on ANZAC Day, Springvale Botanical Cemetery and many of our cemetery locations would be filled with members of our community who have served our country. Together we would honour and celebrate the service they have given to their community. However, this year, in 2020 we are reflecting on their contribution and the choices and sacrifices that they made for us, in a very different way.
Although due to unprecedented circumstance we cannot be together, standing side by side, we know our community will still be united as we remember and honour these brave me and women.
Learning about individual heroics and struggles helps us to deepen our compassion and understanding of their sacrifices and also enhance our admiration for their courage, resilience and commitment to public duty.
Trace the lives of significant men and women who have contributed to the fabric of our great nation by downloading our free Victorian War Heritage Booklet Here. Brave, Victorian citizens, both men and women have been involved in wars since the nineteenth century.
Written below are just a handful of hundreds of stories of service and sacrifice, some of the many stories captured within our War Booklet of those memorialised in the beautiful grounds at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, some of which are also noted in our War Graves Tour.
In an attempt to broaden our understanding of service and sacrifice, those featured include individuals from various cultural and religious backgrounds.
This grave of the Atkinson family includes a dedication to the son they lost at Gallipoli. He is buried at Lone Pine Cemetery at Gallipoli. He was Lieutenant Bertram Atkinson (1888 – 1915), only son of the Reverend James and Margaret Atkinson of Clayton. He was born in Buninyong and worked as a real estate agent. He was married. He served in the 23rd Australian Infantry Battalion and was killed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 21 September 1915. In 1916 his family and friends placed a stained-glass window in St Matthew’s Church, Mulgrave (now Wheelers Hill) to honour him and other fallen soldiers. At the unveiling of the window on 26 March 1916, Chaplain G Green, who was recently invalided home from Gallipoli, spoke about the difficulties of burial on the Peninsula and the use of condensed milk crates for makeshift crosses, marked with indelible pencil to identify the men. He encouraged lasting memorials, such as this one to Lieutenant Atkinson, commissioned by his father and subscribed to by parishioners and residents. Lieutenant Atkinson was buried in Brown’s Dip and in 1923 his body was reinterred at Lone Pine Cemetery.
James (Jimmy) Melbourne (c 1876 – 1937) was a notable Indigenous Australian who served in WWI. He was born at York, Western Australia, son of Charles Melbourne and an Aboriginal woman named Sarah. In 1900 he became the first Aboriginal person to play Australian Rules football at a state level, representing West Perth. Melbourne was renowned for his outstanding pace and very good ball handling skills. In 1912 he moved to Melbourne with his wife Florence and worked on the wharves. Melbourne enlisted in the AIF on 21 March 1915 and served at Gallipoli where he was wounded in battle. He survived the war, however on 13 December 1937 he was murdered at his home in South Melbourne. At the time Melbourne was married to his second wife, Mary Edith, an ex-war nurse. His landlord was convicted of Melbourne’s manslaughter. Melbourne was buried in this cemetery and laid to rest in an unmarked grave for 80 years. In 2015 the WA government and various organisations funded a monument for his grave to ensure that the soldier, footballer and trailblazer was appropriately remembered. The headstone itself contained granite from Ballardong country, his hometown of York. On 18 September 2015 there was a military service held at his grave to erect the headstone to commemorate his legacy and unveil his monument.
Ethel Attiwill (née Richardson) (1877 – 1942) was a prominent nursing sister and army matron-in-chief. After training at the Austin and Women’s Hospitals, she was matron for nine years at Sunbury Hospital for the Insane. In November 1914 she was appointed to the Australian Army Nursing Service, AIF and in December embarked for Egypt as a sister with the 1st Australian General Hospital. She returned to Australia as matron-in-charge of the HMAT Kyarra, the first hospital ship returning home with wounded soldiers. She re-embarked from Melbourne in August and transferred to England.
Her AIF appointment ended on 7 May 1916. The next day she was appointed matron-in-chief of the medical services at Army Headquarters, Melbourne, on home service. In this role she supervised administration of military nursing staff around Australia, as well as those on hospital ships and sea transport. She was the first person to occupy this position, which required great organisational and administrative abilities. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross 1st Class in 1917 for her wartime services.
Springvale War Cemetery is the official War Cemetery in Victoria, and is the final resting places for many courageous soldiers.It is through sharing the stories of these brave servicemen and servicewomen resting peacefully at Springvale Botanical Cemetery and the Springvale War Cemetery that we begin to understand the significant sacrifices that were made for our country.