Albany soil to grow memorial poppies image

18 January 2017

A bag of soil was collected from Mt Clarence in Albany yesterday morning for a special project to create a memorial garden at the Australian War Memorial.

City of Albany Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpe accompanied veterans from Albany RSL, representatives of the Royal Australian Navy and students to collect soil from the mount.

Albany was the first site in Western Australia where soil has been collected for the project, after it was chosen as one of three sites of significance to contribute to the memorial garden.

Mt Clarence was considered a site of significance for its vista of King George Sound where more than 40,000 troops departed Australia for World War I, and being the site where Padre White hosted the first Anzac Day Dawn Service.

Soil from Albany, Port of Fremantle and Blackboy Hill will be combined with soil from Flanders in Belgium to form the Flanders Field Memorial Garden in Canberra where poppies will be grown year round in honour of fallen servicemen and women.

Cr Stocks said Albany played a special part in World War I and it was an honour for the city to contribute to a project of such significance.

“Mt Clarence is a sacred memorial site and it is very special that some of the soil from this place will help create a garden honouring those who died in the Great War, particularly the 12,000 Australian lives that were lost in Belgium in 1917,” he said.

“About 6,000 of these fallen soldiers have no known graves so to honour them in this way is very moving and a fitting way for our nation to remember them.”

Many of the soldiers who died in Belgium would have sailed to Europe aboard the fleets of ships that sailed for the war from Albany’s King George Sound in 1914.

Cr Stocks encouraged anyone wanting to know more about Albany’s significance in World War I to visit to National Anzac Centre at Albany Heritage Park.

“The National Anzac Centre commemorates the Anzacs and Albany’s part in the Anzac story, and creates a deeply personal experience for visitors while paying tribute to those who served,” he said.

The Flanders Fields Memorial Garden is expected to open at the Australian War Memorial in November 2017.