The Soldiers Walk, Queens Domain, Hobart
 

 

Gallery • site preparation (1918)

Stan McDougall VC at the tree for his brother Wallace

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A full photo gallery can be found here. This includes many unidentified family groups as well as returned soldiers. In a number of cases, descendants have identified families. One family found a copy of one of these photographs in old family papers with a reference also identifying for whom the tree was to commemorate. If you recognise anyone in any of the photographs, especially the unidentified groups of planters, please contact Friends of Soldiers Walk.

Included in the photographs are some which depict known families, soldiers or members of the community. An asterix indicates they were preparing a plot for a relative.

Addison*, Charles, Crisp, Crowhurst, Earle*, Hall/Crook*, Monks*, Overend, Robinson, Scott*, Walsh, Wickins*.

See the full photo gallery.

The site preparation was extensively reported in the Mercury, which was a enthusiastic supporter of the project. The Mercury was fiercely pro-war and pro-conscription. It's editorials and reporting was dismissive of alternative opinion and strongly anti-Labor. The descriptions illustrate the community nature of the work with sporting groups, workplaces joining families and returned soldiers in the preparation.

Preparation Days

  • June 22nd 1918
  • June 29th 1918
  • July 6th 1918
  • July 13th 1918
  • July 20th 1918

 

The Mercury Saturday June 24th , 1918 p7

Avenue Of Honour

Today's digging operations on the Domain

Preparations are now complete for to-day's ceremony in connection with the planting of trees on the Domain to form an avenue of honour in memory of the Tasmanians who have made the supreme sacrifice on the various fronts in connection with the world war. The proposed avenue, which has been pegged out in readiness for to-day's digging operations is to commence at the town end of the Domain, near the lane leading to the University, and from here to the South African monument there will be only a single row of trees, but from the monument towards Government House there will be two rows, and along part of the route three rows of trees, the ground in between being planted with wattle, West Australian gums, hardy annuals, and flowering shrubs, space being reserved for a seven foot path between. The total length of the avenue will be about a mile. The trees, all cedars, are being provided by the City Council, and have been purchased from Ballarat. The arrangements for to-day's digging operations are in the hands of Mr G. Foster, M.H.A., the general secretary of the Tasmanian branch of the R.S.S.I.L.A, and Mr. L. Collis, the assistant secretary, who have been promised the assistance of several hundred other returned soldiers, rejected volunteers, and other helpers. The returned soldiers are asked to fall in at the Dug-Out, City Hall, at 2 o'clock, and will march via Macquarie Street, Elizabeth Street, and Liverpool Street, to the Domain, whilst a number of soldiers from Claremont camp will come in by train, and the rejected volunteers will assemble on the Domain. Picks and shovels are being supplied by the Ordnance Department, and it is hoped that close on a thousand young men will participate in digging the 317 holes required, that being the number of Tasmanians who have made the supreme sacrifice. A list of these has been prepared, and the name and rank of each is to be placed on a panel bearing the colours of the battalion, over which the lettering will be painted in corresponding colours. These nameplates will be placed alongside the trees, inside the tree guards, and no fear is expressed that these will not be held sacred, and be left undamaged, so that in years to come the Avenue of Honour will be a source of pride to the State. The general public are asked to provide light refreshments for the diggers, who will commence operations at 2.30, and continue until about 5 o'clock. The first tree planted will be in honour of the first Australian who was killed at Gallipoli, and the first row will be in memory of those who were killed in 1914.[sic]

Yesterday His Excellency the Governor (Sir Francis Newdegate), who was accompanied by the Hon. W. M. Williams, M.L.C., and the superintendent of reserves (Mr. Lipscombe) visited the site of the proposed avenue, and His Excellency expressed his satisfaction at the way in which it had been laid out, and intimated that the Hon. Lady Newdegate and himself would deem it an honour to associate themselves with the preparations for the ceremony.

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The Mercury Monday June 26th , 1918 p7

The Avenue of Honour

Preparing for the Planting

A Working Bee Afternoon

Probably the largest "working bee" afternoon yet witnessed in Hobart took place on the Domain on Saturday, when 500 to 600 soldiers, civilians, several of the weaker sex, and even a few boys took part in digging holes for the 317 holes to be planted on July 27, in memory of men and officers belonging to the municipality of Hobart who have laid down their lives at Gallipoli, in Egypt and France in the defence of the Empire. This commendable idea is being carried out by the Hobart Council, on behalf of the municipality and does not include the whole of Denison, as had been erroneously notified in preliminary advertisements, and it is a good hint to other municipalities to similarly commemorate the honoured dead. Commencing to the right of the pathway up the University Reserve, and sweeping in a curve to near the South African monument, the avenue will then cross the path just over the rise of the hill. It will then take a course northward over the summit of the rising ground overlooking Government House, with two shorter avenues junctioning with the main one at each end. The Council have found the trees, 2 yr old cedars, procured from Ballarat, tree guards, and permanent metal tags for the trees ( see note below ), each bearing the name of the fallen soldier, his unit number and battalion colours, and the numbers will run consecutively, commencing on the city side of the avenue with No 1 representing the first of the Hobart soldiers who fell at Gallipoli, then the second, and so on. The avenue has been planned by Mr L J Lipscombe, superintendent of reserves, and the Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Association, with Mr George Foster, MHA as Hon. Secretary, had undertaken to facilitate the project by enlisting the aid of returned soldiers, civilians, and the military in digging the holes. The Commandant (Colonel Clark) granted permission for a party of 150 men from Claremont Camp, under LT T Orr to come on Saturday and assist, their railway fares being paid for the purpose. The Ordnance Department supplied 500 picks and 380 shovels.

The scene on the ground was an animated one. The soldiers from Claremont camp arrived between 1 and 2 o'clock and at once commenced operations. Soon several returned soldiers and civilians took up picks and shovels from the heap near the monument, and were given their numbers (of the holes to be dug) by Mr Foster, and those set to work in earnest. Among the civilians were some representatives of the fallen soldiers, who proceeded to dig holes for the trees which would represent their kinsmen. Employees of the Gas Company dug holes for the trees in memory of those who had been employed by the company, and had made the supreme sacrifice; City Council men did the same thing; also representatives of the Tramway company, waterside workers, and State High School.    The boys completed their part in a thoroughly workmanlike manner. Lawyers, merchants, civil servants, and even a federal legislator (Senator Earle) did some digging. Whilst the Mayor (Aldermen Shields), Hon. W. M. Williams, MLC, Hon. J. W. Evans CMG MHA, were among the onlookers, and aiding in the arrangements. Gradually the number of spectators, especially ladies, increased to several hundreds, numerous parties in motor-cars and cabs coming to look on, all contributed to a scene which was not only which was not only cosmopolitan, and unique in character, but lively and inspiring. The soldiers were particularly exuberant. Two hands worked in digging each hole, one using the pick and the other the shovel, and the men stripped to their khaki breeches, chaffed each other from hole to hole, cracked jokes, and even threw lumps of earth at one another. The soldiers worked with a will for a time, each hole having to be cut 6ft. by 6ft., and 2 ft. deep. Some had softer ground than others, and a few had rocky spots to work, where they could not make much progress without blasting. A few expert civilians made very quick work of it, and these, together with some of the soldiers, having completed their holes by 3 o'clock, having done their digging and shovelling in a little over an hour. Among many of the remaining parties the jocular side of operations came into prominence. The scene having become livened up in this and other ways, the ladies resolved to join in the fun, and one after another took up the shovels, a and a few even the picks, and went on shifting the earth whilst the "boys had a blow,' giving rise to a lot of comic remarks, which produced at times roars of laughter. One elderly lady threw her mantle and hat on the ground, rolled up the sleeves of her blouse, took the pick from the hands of one digger, and said, "I'll show you how to do it." She was soon surrounded by a crowd of lookers on, whom she surprised by the vigorous way she went to work with both pick and shovel, and stooping to throw out the big lumps of earth in all directions. So the work went merrily on till about 2000 holes had been completed and many more partly dug, operations ceasing for the day by about 5 o'clock, a very good beginning having been made. The work will be resumed probably next Saturday, or the subsequent weekend.

His Excellency the Governor and Miss Newdegate rode over the ground on horseback in an unofficial capacity, and were greatly interested in the operations, and were greeted by several of the soldiers. They interviewed Mr Foster, His Excellency remarking that an exceedingly good start had been made.

There was one hitch only in the afternoon's proceedings, and that was the absence of any organisation in the way of supplying refreshments. Mr Foster and the Committee intend to obtain the assistance of a ladies' committee to supply afternoon tea next time. As soon as the mistake was discovered on Saturday prompt efforts weer made to remedy it, with the result that hot pies were sent from the Piccadilly Cafe, and oranges and other fruit distributed as far as supplies would permit.

NB the metal tags were not placed on the trees at this time. Wooden boards with details of the deceased were used and can be seen in the photographs of the planting days.

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The Mercury Saturday June 29th , 1918 p7

Soldier's Memorial Avenue

A great turn-out is expected to-day to complete the work of digging holes for the official tree-planting of the soldier's memorial avenue on July 27. As already notified, a number of firms are to be represented by their employees. The president of the Cricket Association calls on all members to attend, and other sporting and athletic bodies will be represented. Probably some of the footballers playing on the Domain may come along. The State Commandant has called a voluntary parade of the Militia Forces. Returned Soldiers are expected in full force, and picks and shovels will be provided near the upper cricket ground. All ladies who can bring a basket of cakes or scones, sandwiches, etc., are invited to do so. The Y.W.C.A. ladies' committee will provide tea. Mr. George Foster will be found near the cricket ground to give all information.

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The Mercury Monday July 1st, 1918 p4

The Soldier's Avenue
Delving on the Domain
Moving Scenes

A stranger finding himself on the eastern slopes of the Queen's Domain on Saturday might well have imagined that he had been transported suddenly into the midst of war. All along the slopes, a line a about sixty yards wide, as far as the eye could see, swarmed with people busily using pick and shovel. They were working with might and main as if it were urgently necessary to "dig in" before the enemy arrived. Red war had brought them there - they were digging in preparation for the planting of the Soldiers Avenue, which is to commemorate for ever Hobart's brave and fallen in the battlefields of Europe and Asia. Each tree will represent a fallen soldier, and appropriately enough it will be a cedar, celebrated in all ages for beauty and longevity, venerated by many Eastern peoples, and regarded by the Hindoos as sacred.

Those who visited the Domain expecting to come upon a merry scene found something very different, something that in a curious way touched them sharp and deep. The spectators talked without raising their voices, and moved sedately about as if they were present at an imposing ceremony. And there were scenes that must have brought their hearts to their throats, and dimmed their eyes. It was a bright, sunny day, and the spectacle from the Domain hill, with the flowing river below, sweeping away to the right and left, and the eastern suburbs and the hilly landscape to the horizon beyond, made for brisk enjoyment that did not come. There was a curious blend of calm and cheerfulness and soberness of mien in the people that one rarely sees.

On the first digging day there was a lack of volunteers, and it was recorded that one old lady had sprung into the breach and used pick and shovel. Her noble example seems to have shot through the community like an inspiration, for on Saturday there was an extraordinary development. Scores of families had resolved that no hands but theirs should dig the ground for the memorial trees of their sons and brothers. Thus it happened that though hundreds of picks and shovels had been provided, there was a shortage. Volunteer workers there were in plenty, and there were holes for them to dig but in the majority of cases it was father and mother, and brothers and sisters that worked, and wanted the help of none. It was hard digging and picking too, mostly on stony ground, and the soil stiff clay. Navvies would have found it easy, and but that it was indeed a labour of love most of the diggers would have found it far beyond their powers. Hundreds of them will have strained muscles and aching bones for days from it, but they did not flinch, for indeed were their lost boys not game?

And they worked with utter lack of self consciousness, heedless of the onlooker, the flame of zeal in their faces, and those waiting on the brink eager for their turn. At one place father used the pick, and the mother and the daughter shovelled in their turn. There was a father wielding a pick, and his children the spade. Brothers and sisters in many cases broke into the hallowed ground, and in other cases widows and sweethearts took part in the laborious task. Two aged men, probably grandfathers, were working together to rear to a grandson a memorial tree that they will never see grow much above the guards. And so it was all along the line, those who what mourned for their dead heroes finding easement to their sore hearts in giving them a place of honour in the memorial avenue. There are already 330 trees to be planted in memory of as many of Hobart's sons who have given their lived in order that Freedom may reign in the world. Some may not have fully understood to what they had put their hands when they enlisted, for many of them did not think beyond cricket and football and other games, but their letters all show that at the front they understood that they had answered the right call, and would not have turned back if they could. They went forward, and rounded off their lives with self sacrifice in the noblest of causes, and now something of their elevation of spirit is reflected in their families. And so fathers and mothers and others of kith and kin picked and dug in honour of those of their blood that had not lived futile lives entirely to self as so many do, but had fought the good fight, and borne themselves as true men, even to the death.

It was a great though that our dead soldiers should each have a memorial that would carry his name and deeds and honours won down to posterity, for those to come after us will have cause to bless them. The Soldier's Avenue, too, will be a memorial fit for Kings and Emperors. On its sweep along the eastern slopes of Domain Hill it will occupy a glorious site, one not to be surpassed in the whole world for variety and beauty of scenery. There, too, should be placed the monuments that will be erected in honour of our infantry battalions, our artillery units, our Light Horse our airmen, and our sailors. Starting from that most perfect of monuments erected to the memory of the men that fell in South Africa, Soldier's Avenue should in course of time be adorned with memorials of Hobart's heroes, and become a consecrated grove in which poets will find inspiration.

Today the Avenue consists of heaps of broken earth and stones torn out by loving hands, with a sprinkling of ragged, indigenous trees. The digging has not yet been completed, and the workers have to return. And the tale will not be complete until the German hordes have been defeated, and our victorious soldiers have come home. Until then the digging will go on, so that every life given by the city for the world's freedom may have a lasting record in our midst, though the clay to which it belonged lies in the stricken battlefield, or in a grave in the homeland. General Currie, the commander of the Canadian troops in an order issued before his men went into battle in the great German offensive, said:- " To those who fall I say, You will not die but step into immortality. Your mothers will not lament your fate but will be proud to have borne such sons. Your names will be revered for ever by your grateful country, and God will take you unto Himself."

The Working Bee

Thousand of people turned out to witness and assist in the preparation being made by relatives and friends for the memorial trees to be planed when the avenue is officially opened on July 27. The crowd was far greater than on the previous Saturday, and it is estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 persons were present. Those engaged in digging the tree holes included all classes of the community - politicians, military officers, lawyers, office clerks, artisans, labourers, and schoolboys. Hundreds of women and young girls wielded pick and shovel with success, and at some spots whole families were engaged in the work. Sorting societies were represented by old and young men anxious to do their bit towards perpetuating the memory of an old comrade who had given his life in the Empire's cause.

The progress made on Saturday was substantial, and some 320 squares are completed, the line now extending beyond the junction of the three roads beyond the powder magazine. The Superintendent of the City Reserves (Mr. L. J. Lipscombe) was again in attendance, and personally supervised the proceedings, and Staff-Sergt. Foster, M.H.A., gave all information as to numbers, plots, etc. The supply of picks and shovels was not equal to the demand, and the 200 of each were quickly applied for. Mr. Lipscombe, who is the "father" of the Avenue of Honour, has in contemplation the placing of flower beds and shrubberies etc, at various spots, and his desire that the avenue should not be converted into a drive will receive general endorsement. It is a matter for regret to hear that during the week some evil-minded person removed many of the pegs, and caused the superintendent a deal of extra work and trouble in replacing them.

A pleasing feature about Saturday's working bee was the arrival of a battalion of employees from H. Jones and Co's IXL factory, numbering over 50, and they did splendidly. Senator Earle again did his share, and a prominent military officer kept pace with several younger in years. At one plot an old man, who looked as if he has passed the allotted span, worked on his own, and inquiry elicited the information that the spot where he was engaged digging was a portion of his son's favourite playground when a youngster. Work was continued with much vigour and enthusiasm up till 5 o'clock, when this afternoon's operations closed.

The commissariat department was in full swing on Saturday. The Y.M.C.A. Scouts were there with a field kitchen, under the command of Scoutmaster Stevens. Mrs Forster supervised the dispensing of the tea (the tea and sugar having been given by firms in the city), and Alderman A.C. Davis saw that the fires were 'kept burning' and supplies sent out to workers all along the line. A tent was provided for the refreshments, a large number of sympathisers having forwarded large supplies of cakes, pies, etc. Mrs Rolls was in charge here, and her staff consisted of the following ladies, who thoughtfully paraded the avenue and handed out the refreshments to the workers: - Mesdames D. Young, H.J. James, Tennant, Lowe, Thurston, Oldmeadow, and Wickens; Misses Plane (2), Corfield, McWilliams, Dashington, Grubb, Dobbie, Burgess, Elliot, Gillon, Baker, Wickens, and Lacey.

The Labour Fife and Drum Band thoughtfully played their part, under the leadership of Bandmaster J. Slater. They submitted a musical programme of patriotic airs, and also played "Onward, Christian Soldiers," concluding with "God Save the King."

The work will be continued next Saturday afternoon.

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The Mercury Friday July 5, 1918 p7

The Memorial Avenue

The work of digging in Soldiers' Avenue in Queen's Domain is to be carried out on Saturday next. Already a great number of fresh inquiries have been made, and fresh help has been promised. Mr. Taylor, cartage contractor, has offered the use of three horses and drays for any work required. Picks and shovels will be found as usual. The New Town Council has been in communication with the Hobart City Council for the purpose of making arrangements to perpetuate the memory of fallen men from New Town. This has been agreed to, and lists of New Town enlistments of men who have died are being prepared, and will be available at an early date. Mr. Foster, M.H.A., desires us to point out that the cost of the avenue is being borne by the rate-payers of the Hobart Corporation (in which New Town will now share). The R.S.S.I.L.A. is merely assisting the council, and cannot grant any requests for consideration of the claims of men whose next-of-kin reside outside these areas. Several leading citizens, however, are interested in a scheme for planting an avenue from Launceston to Hobart to commemorate the enlistment of every Tasmanian soldier. Later on it is intended to approach the Government in this regard, as it is felt it would be of great interest to tourists, as well as a memorial to Tasmania's sons.

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The Mercury Monday July 15, 1918 p7

The Soldiers' Avenue

On Saturday afternoon the army of city workers who assembled in the Domain to resume the digging for the trees that are to be planted along the Soldiers' Avenue in memory of those who have given their lives for the Empire was considerably augmented by a large contingent from New Town, the council of which municipality has joined hands with the City Council in continuing the avenue from a point just beyond the powder magazine. Digging went on with great zest until the heavy rain compelled a cessation. Parties of ladies paid little heed to the order to cease work, and kept on until the military officers came out and collected the picks and shovels. Many of the diggers were drenched. The Y.M.C.A. Scouts were again present, under Scoutmaster Stevens, and provided tea, etc. The bugle band was also present. There were several private tea supplies and the ladies of New Town were there in strong force dispensing the refreshing beverage. There will be further work at the avenue next Saturday.

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The Mercury Monday July 22, 1918 p7

The Soldiers' Avenue

There was another large muster of volunteer workers on the Domain on Saturday afternoon, when the last few holes were excavated in connection with the Soldier's memorial Avenue, which is to be formally opened on August 3 and good progress was made with the construction of the tree guards. Other "cleaning-up" work was also executed in preparation of the opening ceremony, and the afternoon being fine, for a change excellent progress was made. Light refreshments were served by the ladies' auxiliary of the Y.M.C.A, and distributed by the Boy Scouts, an attention which the workers greatly appreciated. Another batch of volunteers is asked to attend next Saturday afternoon, when the preparation will be completed.

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