Blackwood Avenue of Honour and the Honour Boards W.W.1.

The History of the Blackwood Avenue of Honour and the Honour Boards.   Compiled by Margot Hitchcock, Historian for the Blackwood & District Historical Society.  November, 2018.  

Article and photos copyright by Margot Hitchcock and the B.D.H.S. ©

Avenue of Honour-2

Photo of the original ‘Avenue of Honour’ that led down to the Mineral springs, and some of the pine trees. Courtesy Margot Hitchcock and the B.D.H.S. ©

In 1919, the Avenue of Honour from the main road to the Mineral Springs area was graded and formed and 80 pine trees were planted, which were provided by Bill and Ken Matheson and Tom Vigor.  The lower parking area was then levelled through a working bee.    The Avenue of Honour was erected to honour all the men from the Blackwood area who enlisted in the 1914-1919 1st World War.  Some were lucky enough to return to resume their lives in Blackwood.  Others made the supreme sacrifice by losing their lives in some far distant country from their beloved Blackwood.

The Avenue of Honour had a significant entrance marked with two solid column constructions with a timber sign above attached to the top of the columns with the words “Avenue of Honour”. Inside this entrance on either side were two monuments with a small cannon mounted on each monument.  Leading down to the mineral springs were the Pine trees planted to honour the men who died for their country, each tree had a name tag to honour one of those men who died.

 The Honour Roll Boards – Have you ever looked at the two boards hanging in the Blackwood Hall and wondered about the men behind the names..???   The 2nd board hanging in the Blackwood Hall is the Barrys Reef board.

The 48 names of these men who enlisted for active service on the 1914-1919 “Roll of Honour” board, mounted in the Blackwood Hall which states “Past Scholars of the Mount Blackwood State School No. 1074, who enlisted for Active Service Abroad – in a small list in the middle is written -In Memoriam – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” this is for the eleven  men who died during active service whose names are in the first list.

1 world war honour board-2

Photo of the original ‘Blackwood Honour Board’ that hangs in the Blackwood Hall. Courtesy of the late Mrs. Dorothy Williamson and Margot Hitchcock for the B.D.H.S. ©

Blackwood honour board

The 48 names of these men who enlisted for active service on the 1914-1919 “Roll of Honour” board mounted in the Blackwood Hall which states “Past Scholars of the Mount Blackwood State School No. 1074, who enlisted for Active Service Abroad – in a small list in the middle is written -In Memoriam – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”- this is for the eleven  men who died during active service whose names are in the first list. As can be seen in the colour photo the additional names are added on the bottom. Photo courtesy of Allan Hall, President B.D.H.S. ©

Men whose names appeared on the Blackwood Honour Board

Armstrong A.M.*, Armstrong T.M., Armstrong W.E., Byrne J., Broad W.J., Byres W., Carruthers G.R.*,

Carruthers H., Cherry H.,  Cocciardi A., Davey R., Davey L., Downing A., Downing G.T., Downing R.,

Hall R.W.M., Lawrence W.*, Morrish H.C., Marshall A.S., Murphy T.*, McCracken J.N.*, Nelson S.,

Nelson H., Perry G., Gribble.V.V., Derrick.E.H., Pattinson A.O., Pattinson J.H., Pattinson W.B., Pearce R.L.,

Pearce L., Pincombe J.R., Rae F., Speary N.J.W.,Skinner W.F.*, Saunders G.*, Shebler G, Smith M.H.,

Smith T., Smith E., Seymour E., Seymour J.*, Suffern G.E., Sweet H., Stephens I.*, Stephens C.R., Vigor A.J.,

Whatmough R.H.*, Whatmough W.J., Webster T., Whitford.L., Langford. B.D.*.. * = died on active Service.

Barrys Reef Honour Board  as seen in the Blackwood Hall. 

Barrys Reef honour board-2

Men whose names appeared on the Barrys Reef Honour Board – photo courtesy of Margot Hitchcock and the B.D.H.S. ©

Allen, J. Knight, G. Allen,  F. Parke, J. Allen, E. Peart, H. Anderson, F. Rae, W. Broad,,

G. Rickards, H. Carruthers, L. Sullivan, J. Cole, L. Walters, R. Drummond,

H. Wells, J. Higgins, J. Williams, M. Keilan, C. Williams.

DIED ON SERVICE – R. Kidd, T. Murphy, N. Kidd, R. Power, N. McCracken, F. Rattray, V. Moore, J. White, H. Vroland.

Some names can be found on the Internet at the ‘Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour’ of men who are recorded on the Barrys Reef Honour Roll and died on duty during the war, one was –

Frederick Norman Rattray –  Roll of Honour Service Number – 1508 : Next of Kin – (Father) RATTRAY James. Service: Australian Army, – 1914 – 1920 – 10th Batt infantry. Age 32, joined 9.12.14. Killed in action 19/6/17 – in field, buried Villiers Brentonneux memorial France.  Son of James & Margaret Rattray died age 34 yrs.   James Rattray was Head Teacher at Barrys Reef School from 1886 – 1887.

James Emil Huntly Vroland  –  Roll of Honour Service number: 855, Rank: Corporal, Unit: 23rd Battalion (Infantry), Service: Australian Army, Conflict: 1914-1918, Date of death: 29 November 1915. Cause of death: Killed in action, Cemetery or memorial details: Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey.

War Grave Register notes: VROLAND, Cpl. James Emil Huntly, 855. 23rd Bn. Australian Inf. Killed in action 29th Nov., 1915. Age 24. Son of Janet Huntly Vroland, of Carlton North, Victoria, Australia, and the late Carl H. F. Vroland. Native of Barry’s Reef, Victoria, Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army.

Carl H. F. Vroland was Head Teacher at Barrys Reef School from 1891 – 1899.

James Emil Huntly Vroland was born in Blackwood in 1891. His mother was Janet Scott and his father was Carl Hakam Ferdinand Vroland. (Digger records).

Neil Kidd – Roll of Honour – Service number: 1740, Rank: Private, Unit: 23rd Battalion (Infantry), Service: Australian Army, Conflict: 1914-1918, Date of death: 7 September 1915.

Cause of death: Died of wounds, Cemetery or memorial details: Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey.

War Grave Register notes: KIDD, Pte. Neil, 1740. 23rd Bn. Died of wounds at sea 7th Sept., 1915.  Place of Enlistment – Melbourne VIC : Next of Kin – (Father) KIDD Arthur of Yea. Died at sea 7/9/15 – shrapnel wounds to jaw and throat – wounds received in action at Gallipoli died on board the  S.S ‘Maheno’.  Buried at sea off Lemmos. Chaplain D.Dutton.

Mabel Johnston was the mother of May Johnston, the child of Neil Kidd (ex-nuptial) born 29/6/1911 at Yea. Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army.

Neil Kidd was born at Blackwood in 1891 to Arthur Kidd and Euphemia McSwan, making him 24 yrs old when he died in 1915.  Neil had a brother Alexander Kidd born in Blackwood in 1889, and Arthur Kidd born in Barrys Reef in 1883, Jane Kidd born 1884, and Euphemia Kidd born 1886.  (Digger records)

Robert Kidd – brother of Neil Kidd – Age 20 yrs & 9 months – Sergeant – Blackwood Sawmiler. Fourth Light Horse regiment.  2nd Anzac mounted regt. Later 2nd Lieutenant, 58th battalion. Joined 20-8-14. Killed in action in the field – 25/10/17.

‘Lieut R.Kidd was killed in action whilst moving up the trenches at Passchendaele Ridge east of Ypres.  He was badly hit by a shell.  Location of grave is not known, it may be the Military Cemetery near Anzac Ridge, Passchendaele.’

Robert Power is listed as from Barrys Reef,  Service No. 9534 died in France on 6th June 1917 and attended the State School Blackwood.

Robert Power – Roll of Honour  – Service number: 9534, Rank: Sapper, Unit: 11th Field Company Australian Engineers. Service: Australian Army, Conflict: 1914-1918.

Date of death: 6 June 1917, Cause of death: Killed in action. Cemetery or memorial details: Nieppe Communal Cemetery, France.

War Grave Register notes: POWER, Spr. Robert, 9534. 11th Field Coy. Australian Engineers. Killed in action 6th June, 1917. Age 42. Son of Robert and Johanna Power. Native of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. II. A. 6.

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army.

Robert Power was born to Robert Power and Johanna Carroll in 1874 at Ballarat (Digger)

Robert’s parents, Robert Power married Johanna Carroll in 1865.  Robert Power and Johanna Carroll  had  son, Patrick Joseph Power born in Daylesford in 1867, and the following children – Mary Power in Ballarat in 1870, Johanna Power in Ballarat in 1872, Robert Power born in Ballarat in 1874, Margaret Power in Barrys Reef  in 1876, Ellen Power in Barrys Reef  20th January, 1878, and Catherine Power in Barrys Reef  in 1880. (Digger records)

Ellen Power was the mother of the late Grace Rayner who wrote the Poetry book ‘A Selecion of Blackwood Poems and Other Verses.’  Grace Rayner was the niece of Robert Power.

P08680 Robert PowerPhoto above of Robert Power courtesy Australian War Memorial. ©

Studio portrait of 9534 Sapper (Spr) Robert Power, 11th Field Company Australian Engineers, of Ballarat, Vic. A prospector prior to enlistment he embarked with No.4 Section from Outer Harbor, SA on board HMAT ‘Suevic’ (A29) on 31 May 1916. On the morning of the 6 June 1917, at “Stuff Camp” Pont Nieppe, Spr Power was instantly killed by a shell which landed in the camp, he was 42 years of age. Spr Power is buried at the Nieppe Communal Cemetery, France.

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army.

John Neil McCracken (2)

Photo above of Private John Neil McCracken Killed in action in France, 27th September,1917, aged 20 years 10 months. Courtesy Australian War Memorial. ©

John Neil McCracken from Blackwood, died on the 27th September 1917 in the Polygon Wood and is buried at Ypres Memorial in Belgium.

John McCracken was only 20 years of age when he died and had been a Pupil Teacher at the Blackwood State School for two years. His Unit number was 4146 and he was in the army in the 57th Battalion. His birth place was Barrys Reef Blackwood. His parents were listed as John McCracken and Helen Amelia McCracken, and his brother was listed as Charles McCracken.

John Neil McCracken is named on the Barrys Reef Honour board as N.McCracken, and on the past scholars of the Mount Blackwood school as J.N.McCracken.

Argus (Melbourne,  Saturday 25 May 1918 – McCRACKEN.- killed in action in France, 27th “September, 1917. (previously reported missing), Pte. John Neil McCracken, 57th Battalion, Head-quarters Grenadiers, aged 20 years 10 months.  Manly, unselfish, and brave. Not for the love of battle, Left he his native land.  He heard the call of duty, And responded like a man.  (Sadly missed by his loving sister and brother, Lily and Charlie.)

A.J. Vigor

Above – Arthur James Vigor, Private  No. 6124, 14th Infantry Battalion.  One of the Blackwood  young men who  enlisted for the 1914-1919 war as seen on the Blackwood Honour Board. Father – Thomas Vigor, Blackwood. (Photo courtesy of Linda Owens). ©

VIGOR Arthur James : Service Number – 6124 : Place of Birth – Ballan VIC : Place of Enlistment – Geelong VIC : Next of Kin – (Father) VIGOR Thomas C/- Blackwood Post Office.  Occupation Sadler, age – 21 yrs and 10 months, defective heart and teeth. Joined 15/3/16. 14th Btn. Reported missing France – 11-4-1917. Taken Prisoner of War in Reincourt, France- Captured 11/4/1917-Interned by Germans at Dulmen/Zerbst- Repatriated Hull, England 2/1/1919.  Returned to Australia 12/7/19. Discharged 8/10/1919. Ref. – First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920, Aust. War Archives.

Tom Vigor, father of the above Arthur Vigor, was one of the men who in 1918 provided the pine trees with Bill and Ken Matheson for the Avenue of Honour. His son at the time was a Prisoner of War in Germany, but in 1919 returned to Australia. In 1933 the Reserve was officially extended by 2 ¾ acres to include the entrance and the Avenue of Honour.   ©

Researched by Margot Hitchcock from her forthcoming book ‘The History and Pioneers of Blackwood’, hopefully to be published soon.  Other books published by Margot Hitchcock – “Aspects of Early Blackwood”, Some History of Simmons Reef, Blackwood”and “The Billy Pincombe Tragedy”. See – www.blackwoodpublishing.com

For help with information on Blackwood ancestors contact Margot Hitchcock – email – margothitchcock@bigpond.com