Anzac Memorial Avenue is a heritage-listed main road running from Redcliffe to Petrie, remembering and acknowledging our fallen soldiers. What started out as a road project by Thomas Rothwell (then-President of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland) to provide returned Anzac soldiers with employment soon became an infrastructure that connected Redcliffe to Brisbane. As an avenue of honour, Anzac Memorial Avenue features 100 trees planted for 100 fallen soldiers, over seven major monuments, historical sites and murals and many more smaller dedications.
Now, 100 years on from the end of World War I, a new memorial has been unveiled. Commemorating personnel from World War I, the four silhouettes represent all Australia and New Zealand Soldiers, Navy Sailors, and Nurses. They are the guardians of the Centenary of Anzac Bridge, where Anzac Avenue overpasses the Bruce Highway in North Lakes.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, the ladies of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) were imperative to completing the medical unit. While some Australian women travelled overseas, others who were already abroad enlisted as nurses at British hospitals or in the British Army’s Nursing Service. Many women put their safety at risk for the sake of saving others.
Records from the State Library of Victoria show that around 3,000 Australian nurses served in World War I and travelled to places such as England, France, Gallipoli, and Italy. They were even sent as far as Egypt, Burma, Salonica and India. More than 400 served at home in Australia, at hospitals built for wounded soldiers already sent home. Almost 400 of the total women served were decorated with medals and 25 died during service.
While just a small force when World War One started, the Royal Australian Navy had a significant role as part of our troops. Consisting of 3,800 personnel and only 16 ships, the Royal Australian Navy first defended our shores from threats around German New Guinea before being despatched to serve in East Africa and the Dardanelles.
On September 14, 1914, the Australian Submarine AE1 disappeared with no trace of the 35 crew members on board. As Australia’s sole surviving submarine, AE1’s sister AE2, was deployed to the easten Mediterranean where, in April 1915, she achieved the first successful submerged passage of the Dardanelles. In December 2017, the wreck of AE1 was located off the Duke of York island group, however, it is still unknown what happened to the submarine and its crew.
Many of our Australian Naval Ships continued to parole regional waters well after the end of WWI which, by then, had 63 vessels.
There is no denying the severity of World War One and the effects it had on all countries involved. In Australia and New Zealand, it become law that if you were over the age of 18 (20 in New Zealand), you had to join the Armed Forces. This was called ‘conscription’. These men were groomed and trained to be our defences on the front line, to endure the harsh realities of fate and to survive in trenches. They sustained onslaught, shellings, barbed wire, vermin, trench-foot and more. Out of the almost 417,000 Australian men enlisted, more than 60,000 were killed and 150,000 were wounded, gassed or became a prisoner of war.
Each stream of the Defence Force is represented on the Centenary of Anzac Bridge to commemorate all they did for our country and the sacrifices they made, including risking their lives. Unlike all other memorials along Anzac Avenue, these silhouettes do not have plaque inscriptions accompanying their statue.
You can find out more about the history of Anzac Memorial Avenue here.
For more information about the development of Anzac Memorial Avenue, get in touch with the North Pine Historical Society.