Plan to honour Wollondilly’s fallen diggers

Councillor Blair Briggs wants Wollondilly Diggers to be honoured in three of the shire's parks. Picture: Simon Bennett
Councillor Blair Briggs wants Wollondilly Diggers to be honoured in three of the shire's parks. Picture: Simon Bennett

The sacrifice of three Wollondilly diggers could be memorialised with the renaming of three local sportsgrounds or parks.

Councillor Blair Briggs will ask the council to support the renaming to recognise the brave residents who were killed on the battlefields of France in October of 1917.

Appin’s private John Stuart Dyce, 26, from the 36th Infantry Battalion died on October 17 in Beligum; Bargo’s private Cecil Charles Crockford of the 2nd Infantry Battalion died on October 4 in Belgium aged 22; and Picton’s private Clifford John Clarke, age unknown, of the 20th Infantry Battalion also died on October 4 in Belgium.

“The idea was raised by a member of the Picton Anzac Day Committee,” Cr Briggs said.

“The soldiers were young men who served their country and they paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“At this time of year, around Remembrance Day, the sacrifice of soldiers is on our minds.

“It would be nice to have their names recognised in the shire and recorded for all time.”

Cr Briggs said the naming of the fields would honour the individual soldiers and their local connection.

He said, if the councillors supported the idea at the November council meeting, then they would need to discuss which sportsgrounds or parks would be renamed.

“We need to find appropriate locations,” Cr Briggs said.

“I think it would be nice if parks or sportsground could be renamed at Appin, Bargo and Picton to reflect where the men lived.

“I would prefer to see the sportsgrounds renamed rather than wait for new fields to be built.

“If we wait for the new one at Wilton, then we will be waiting for years.

“I don’t want to see this on the back-burner.

“I will push it through to see the sportsfields are renamed around the shire.

Cr Briggs said the soldiers’ names were inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres in Belgium.

Australian artist Will Longstaff painted the “Menin Gate at Midnight”, which captures the poignancy of this time.

A copy of the painting was purchased by Brigadier-General George Macleay Macarthur-Onslow, who was a Wollondilly councillor and mayor of Camden.

The copy of the painting is on loan to the Wollondilly Heritage Centre and Museum at The Oaks.

“The sacrifice of these young men is tragic because their adult lives had only just begun,” Cr Briggs said.

“It is important to look back at our history so we can make good decisions in the future.

“It is important for residents to understand that the way we live today is because of the sacrifice of Australians in wars.

“We all complain about things but we do live in the best of times in a protected and secure society.”