“Village idiots”, according to RSL sub branch president Mike McClelland, severely damaged the Lone Pine tree at the memorial park in Laurieton some time on July 16 or 17.
The significant tree is a descendant of the original pine which stood on the battlefield at the Battle of Lone Pine during the First World War. The battle was one of the most famous assaults in the Gallipoli campaign.
“The tree was donated to the sub branch by the (Laurieton United) Services Club and planted to mark the centenary last year,” Mr McClelland said.
“It looks like it’s been jumped on. The crown in the middle has broken. It was about two feet taller.”
The healthy pine is a feature of the Mack Laurie Memorial Park, planted in line with the memorial wall and cenotaph.
Mr McClelland said council gardeners would try to train some of the branches upwards to form another crown but is doubtful the plan will succeed.
“We only recently removed the steel stakes from around the tree. The person could have done some damage to themselves if they were still there,” Mr McClelland said.
Commemorative trees are propagated at the Yarralumla Nursery in Canberra and to replace the tree would cost several hundred dollars.
Police have been informed of the vandalism and are keen to speak to anyone with information on the attack.
Information from www.awm.gov.au
“On 6 August 1915 the 1st Australian Infantry Division launched a major offensive at Plateau 400 on Gallipoli. The ridges, once covered with the Aleppo pine, had been cleared to provide cover for the Turkish trenches, leaving just one, solitary pine. The area became known as Lone Pine Ridge.
“After three days of brutal fighting the Anzacs succeeded in capturing the enemy trenches, but this bloody action cost the Australians 2,000 men. The Turks’ losses were estimated at 7,000.
“After the battle, Lance Corporal Benjamin Charles Smith, 3rd Battalion, AIF, collected several pine cones from the branches used to cover the Turkish trenches. He sent the cones home to his mother, Jane McMullin, in remembrance of his brother Mark, who had died in the fighting on 6 August.
“From one of these cones Mrs McMullin sowed several seeds, and successfully raised two seedlings. One was planted in Inverell, where both her sons had enlisted. The other was presented to the Australian War Memorial, to be planted in the grounds in honour of all the sons who fell at Lone Pine.”