The memorial at Doolbi is a modest tribute to a number of the Isis district’s fallen in the First World War. Blink as you drive by and you may miss it completely.
However, the Doolbi memorial has an interesting if not quirky history.
Located on the Goodwood Road just outside of Childers and adjacent to the Isis golf course, the memorial features a concrete cairn with a replica machine gun mounted on top.
The original machine gun, a German Maxim Light Machine Gun, was part of the war trophy distribution to Childers following the First World War and arrived along with the prized Krupp Howitzer which is housed alongside the Council Service Centre.
Childers history enthusiast Ailsa Cole said the Doolbi memorial was officially opened in the early 1920’s when Doolbi was a bustling area boasting a large sugar juice mill located directly behind the memorial.
“Historic photos of the official occasion show what a busy place Doolbi was in those days with impressive infrastructure for the mill and a hotel,” Ailsa said.
“The original machine gun stayed in place until the advent of the World War Two when it was hacksawed from its mountings.
“Explanations for the removal are varied but a popular theory is that it was removed for parts or training as the gun had components that were interchangeable with the Vickers machine gun used by the Allies”
“Alternatively there was conjecture that it was removed to prevent it falling into enemy hands if Australia was ever overrun,” Ailsa said.
“The machine gun remained missing until the Rotary Club of Childers sourced a grant of $1200 in 2004 to undertake an upgrade to the Doolbi memorial. The Childers branch of the RSL was also instrumental in the initiative.”
Ailsa said the work involved replacing the Honour Roll and fence surrounding the memorial and developing a plan to replace the machine gun.
“My husband Len and his good mate Joe Mungomery believed they could make a replica of the machine gun.
“They hand crafted all the parts from designs sourced by Len and the result was a very realistic replica of the original.”
“The replica was placed on top of the memorial in early 2005, 64 years after it was removed, and was ready for Anzac Day,” Ailsa said.
She said the Doolbi memorial played a significant role in Anzac Day commemorations in the Childers area. There is a Dawn Parade at the Childers memorial room followed by services at Doolbi, Apple Tree Creek and finally Cordalba.
“It’s a rather unique procession of services with numbers of participants multiplying at each service.”
“I think having the memorial restored to an original appearance is a measure of the respect people around our community hold for these memorials and the people they honour.
“Childers and the immediate district provided a significant proportion of its young men to the First World War effort and this contribution was devastatingly reflected in the high casualty rate suffered locally.
“I think great credit goes to Rotary and the local RSL initially for taking on the renewal project and to Len and Joe for having the skill to produce the remarkable replica that now sits atop the memorial,” Ailsa said.
FOOTNOTE: The Maxim machine gun was Germany’s most lethal weapon in the First World War and reportedly caused more allied deaths than any other weapon. The machine gun survived into the Second World War and was adapted by the Allies. With modifications it could fire .303 bullets at a rate of 450 per minute compared with an original 300 rounds per minute in the First World War. The machine gun weighed around 20 kilos.
The Doolbi Memorial is also listed on Places of Pride.
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