A SMALL crowd gathered at Horsham Cenotaph on Tuesday to mark a centenary since the start of the First World War.
Three wreaths, laid by Horsham Rural City Council, Horsham RSL and Horsham Historical Society, gave tribute to the Horsham district’s achievements and sacrifices during the bloody campaign.
Horsham Historical Society member John Francis said the area had a remarkable contribution to the war.
He said more than 2500 men from Horsham and district enlisted to fight in the war.
“This represented most of our men aged 18 to 35,” he said.
The district lost 450 men – either in the war or shortly afterwards.
Eleven of the district’s men died in the Battle of Fromelles.
“We also had about 145 men who were decorated for incredible acts of bravery – on several occasions – who won multiple awards,” Mr Francis said.
“One family of three brothers all won the Distinguished Conduct Medal, in different battles – an unequalled honour in the Commonwealth.”
Mr Francis and his wife Gillian are compiling a book of profiles about men and women from Horsham and district who contributed to the war.
One such man was Horsham Mayor David Grimble’s grandfather Corporal Charles Frederick Grimble, who was awarded a Military Medal for his service in the 7th Battalion.
When researching his grandfather, Cr Grimble said he stumbled on a little-known fact, which he shared at the ceremony.
“By the end of our winter in 1914, it was becoming more apparent that Europe was fast moving towards war,” he said.
“Then Prime Minister Joseph Cook, having been warned by the British Government on July 30, 1914, of the imminent danger of war, spoke at a meeting in Horsham, where he observed that all resources in Australia were in the empire, and for the preservation and security of the empire.”
Horsham Rural City Council Citizen of the Year James ‘Jim’ Heard appreciated Tuesday's ceremony.
“My father was seriously injured in the Battle of the Somme,” he said.
Mr Heard laid a wreath on behalf of Horsham Historical Society, with Fiona Carine.