Rockhampton mayor's blood connection to Battle of Polygon Wood
ROCKHAMPTON Mayor Margaret Strelow yesterday shared her own connection to the Battle of Polygon Wood.
Cr Strelow said she was inspired to do her own research on the battle after reading the story of a local soldier, John Wynd, who was among those who fought at Polygon Wood.
"The story of John Wynd prompted me to go and look at some of the family names that I'm familiar with,” she said.
The Rockhampton mayor described how she felt after finding out her great grand-uncle, James Oakes fought in the battle.
"I was saddened, touched, probably any number of emotions, I didn't know my uncle James Oakes who fought at Polygon Wood, but realised that I also had a blood connection with this battle,” she said.
"He succumbed only about a week after the local John Wynd.”
The Rockhampton community gathered yesterday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood.
The special ceremony was held at the Rockhampton War Memorial, amongst the greenery at the Botanic Gardens.
Despite our success in winning the Battle of Polygon Wood, Australia lost 5700 men.
"If you know your family tree and go and do a search, I think many Australians will be surprised to realise how close their own forebears were to some of these extraordinary battles that we're commemorating.”
Cr Strelow shared her findings after researching the Battle of Polygon Wood.
"I've seen a photo that the War Memorial holds which is a photo taken on the day that my great grand-uncle died and it shows a long line of Australian soldiers.”
One of the local soldiers who was remembered was John Wynd.
He was one of thousands, many of them having enlisted from Rockhampton, who never had a chance to say goodbye to his loved ones and friends during the battle.
"They were just men; the young John Wynd that we learnt about today was an apprentice, he worked in Kent Street, he went to Allenstown School; this is the most Rockhampton of Rocky stories and yet he voluntarily enlisted,” Cr Strelow said.
"It becomes very personal for all of us, I think, we put it terms of the streets that we know, the schools that we know and realise that this was just a normal bloke who had a very ordinary life and then went off and participated in a war which was fundamental to saving our free way of life.”
A tree was planted in a garden bed behind the cenotaph.
"We should never forget that so we've planted a tree today to be a history lesson for ourselves and for our children but as a message that we haven't forgotten John Wind either,” she said.