• Loddon Herald

Where sons are remembered


THE Mologa War Memorial is a lasting place of commemoration; a lonely reminder of a once thriving Victorian town and a testament to the Mologa and District Landcare Group who care for the memorial today.

It was on March 24, 2020, that marked 100 years since the memorial to the soldiers of World War One was unveiled by author Allison Marlow Paterson’s great-grandmother Sarah Marlow and her grandfather Allan Marlow.

Allison, a Sunshine Coast -based author was invited to deliver the centenary address on ANZAC Day 2020.

In the midst of the pandemic, the event was postponed. With the ANZAC service proceeding in 2021, the author deems the opportunity to provide the address as a great honour for both her and her family.

Allison’s adult book and its children’s version Anzac Sons (Big Sky Publishing) details the tragic story of the Marlow brothers and their service on the Western Front.

Since the publication of Anzac Sons, Allison has continued to write stories of family for children, and of area of Pyramid Hill area.

In her latest release, the second in a series for children about Australia’s military history titled Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force, photos of Allison’s grandfather are used to depict aspects of the customs of the ADF.

The first in the series Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and War Memorials features the Pyramid Hill Memorial Hall and the story of the Mologa War Memorial.

Like so many memorials about which we gather on our major days of commemoration, the funds to erect the memorial came from the work of community members.

In March, 1920, a report appeared in the Pyramid Hill Advertiser: Only a few months before, at the conclusion of 1919, the devastating influenza epidemic known as the Spanish flu had been declared over.

Under the heading Mologa Soldiers Memorial, it recorded:  The residents of this district have worthily placed on record their estimation of their soldiers by erecting a handsome stone column, which was unveiled on Wednesday 24th, by Mrs C. Marlow, to whom the honour was justly due, as is well known, by the fact that five of her sons volunteered, of whom three are in soldier’s graves in France … In the unveiling ceremony Lieut. A. Marlow escorted his mother on to the platform and the large assemblage stood bareheaded as the cords were cut and the covering Union Jack removed from the pedestal.

The memorial lists 28 young men who were associated with this small community of Mologa. There were 22 Anzacs who listed the town as their place of birth and 14 who called Mologa home when they enlisted. 

Ten of these young men were never to return. By and large they were neighbours, they were mates, and they were family. They left with a sense of duty and some with a sense of adventure.

Three sons of Sarah and Charles Marlow did not make it home – Charlie, 25, George, 24, and 19-year-old Albert.  

A further seven sons are listed on this memorial under the heading Supreme Sacrifice – Will Street, Les Townsend, Jack Price, Ray Leed, Robert Campbell, Pat Ryan and Daniel O’Sullivan.  

Also listed are those Mologa men whose luck held out and who made it home, some with physical scars and some with wounds they carried in their darkest moments and in their nightmares – Tom Alford, James Dillon, Charles Fyffe, David Fyffe, Alf Ferris, Tom Gray, Amos Haw, Knowlson Haw, Ewen Johnston, William Leed, Allan Marlow, Percy Marlow, Hugh Martin, Andrew Price, John Ryan, Michael Ryan, Herb Street and Wilsie Townsend.

Mologa had suffered greatly. Of those who listed Mologa as home, 10 of the 14 of its gallant soldiers were buried on distant shores.

For families like those of Sarah and Charles Marlow, like the Townsends, the Leeds, the Prices, the Campbells, the Ryans and so many more across the world, no amount of patriotic words could ease their pain. 

Creating lasting memorials to their young men became a priority and it was on 6 December 1918, that the community of Mologa gathered as reported in the Pyramid Hill Advertiser: In a corner of a nicely shaded and grassy paddock on Mr Pickles’ farm on Wednesday, a good number of district residents assembled at a picnic arranged for the purpose of raising funds to set up a suitable memorial to soldiers from the locality to recognise the valour of all and to keep in memory those who have fallen in the fight.

The deadly Spanish Influenza virus was shortly after detected in Victoria. In January 1919, the state was placed in quarantine. Public meetings were banned, public buildings shut, restrictions were placed on long-distance train travel and the border between NSW and Victoria was closed.

The virus soon spread to other states. It was not until the end of 1919 that the pandemic was over.

Allison says: “Today, we are dealing with a similar pandemic of a century ago – a deadly virus that has impacted our world and threatens those we love. Allison’s hope is, as we all continue to adjust to the changes taking place in our lives, that we take time to reflect and consider others.

“Let’s endeavour to emulate that same sense of community spirit of 100 before. The people rallied, they persevered and their monument was built.   

“Thank you to the Mologa and District Landcare Group  whose work in the preservation of the memorial is appreciated by the descendants of those whose names are etched in gold. It is a lastingreminder to us all of great service, courage, perseverance, and sacrifice.”

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