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Local war stories wanted for special project

local war stories
Leone Wilson OAM.

War stories featuring local people and their contributions to serving the nation are being called upon to help shape a special commemorative project in Anzac Park.

As part of the redevelopment of the Quay Street area, which will take place from 2023, a memorial commemoration space to honour and enhance the Anzac legacy will be featured.

From now until January, Niche Environment and Heritage and Bundaberg Regional Council are collecting information on the region’s wartime past so that it can be fully recognised and told.

So far, Niche and Council have engaged in consultation with local groups who have begun submitting stories, photos and timelines to help shape the works.

The community is also encouraged to submit information via an online form.

Leone Wilson OAM of the Bundaberg District Women Veterans said the project was about recognising the local efforts that were made, and were still being made, in armed conflicts and other military activities.

“I think it is important that the community has some recognition of what Bundaberg locals have done,” she said.

“The community needs to know about the families out there who have had loved ones, and still have loved ones, serving in the forces.

“Bundaberg should be equally proud if its contribution to the defence of Australia and the peacekeeping efforts made.”

As part of the consultation process, Leone said she had submitted documentation which traced the history of the Bundaberg District Women Veterans.

“It refers to the women who served during WWII but did not have overseas service and how this led to the forming of the association,” she said.

The organisation was officially launched in July, 1967 at the inaugural meeting of the Bundaberg and District Ex Servicewomen’s Association.

“They were mainly World War II ladies who had served in any of the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service, Australian Women’s Army Service, Women’s Australian Auxiliary Air Force or Australian Medical Women’s Army Service,” Leone said.

“World War I ladies and those from Commonwealth or allied nations were also welcomed to attend and join the new group.

“Locally the members attended Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services, held ‘back-yard’ get togethers and took the elderly for outings.

“The association gradually grew and ladies who served in the Australian Women’s Land Army were added to the eligibility list.

“Ten years after formation the first of the ‘post war’ servicewomen was welcomed as a member.”

Nowadays, Leone said the association was made up of 64 service members who had served on the Australian Defence Force or land army.

She said being able to share the history of the organisation through the ANZAC Memorial and Commemorative Artworks Consultation was another way to spread awareness about its members and their peacekeeping efforts.

“I think it is important for people to know that there is an association, and that the association is not just nurses, that we are looking out for all women veterans in the local history,” Leone said.

How to submit your stories

An important part of the Anzac Memorial and Commemorative Artworks project is to discover the stories from Bundaberg Region ex-service organisations, personnel and family and friends.

If you have information to share, get involved by visiting the consultation page and submitting your stories and photos here.

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