Horsham groups research for Anzac centenary projects

HORSHAM researchers are looking back to the district as their forbearers knew it during the First World War.

To coincide with the Anzac centenary, community groups including Horsham Historical Society and Horsham Regional Art Gallery have been working on two projects.

About 20 volunteers have been putting together profiles about the men and women from Horsham and district who contributed to the war.

Their research will be published as a book.

Horsham Historical Society and Horsham RSL member John Francis said the volunteers started collating information about three months ago.

They had been overwhelmed with information.

“We’re finding the commitment made by Horsham people was absolutely outstanding,” Mr Francis said.

“There weren’t a lot of young men left behind in a town with a population of about 4000 people – about 38 per cent of men were gone.”

Mr Francis said the stories of the women who supported the men were equally inspiring.

“There were some outstanding acts of bravery and we’re in awe of what these people did and how they did it,” he said.

Researchers have completed about 150 profiles on the region’s war heroes so far.

“We’re up to 1916,” Mr Francis said.

They aim to compile up to 60 more profiles for each year, leading up to 1918.

“The book is going to be published at the end of next year. We hope to launch it for the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day in 2015,” Mr Francis said.

The group has received about $13,500 in federal funding to publish the book.

Horsham Regional Art Gallery also received a federal grant for an exhibition of the region’s First World War memorabilia.

Gallery director Adam Harding said the exhibition, from August until October, would give insights into the war experiences of those who went overseas, and those holding down the fort in the Horsham area.

“It will be a really good opportunity when people are home this Christmas to have a talk about their own family history and what they could contribute,” he said.

A Horsham and District First World War Commemoration Working Group was formed earlier this year to co-ordinate the region’s centenary observances.

Convener Fiona Carine has invited any interested organisations or individuals to join.

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