A Camden Haven historian has written a book to help put Laurieton on the map for its commitment to honouring WW1 servicemen.
Camden Haven Historical Society president Phillip Bowman wants to highlight the fact that Laurieton was the first place in NSW to implement the planting of trees for every local WW1 serviceman.
Laurieton was also the third place in Australia to initiate the tree-planting or ‘Avenue of Honour’, as it is now known.
In 1916 the trees were planted by the servicemen’s families, and in at least one case by a serviceman himself, in Laurie Street and Bold Street.
It is thought by some that the trees in the Laurieton School and Longworth Park grounds are also memorial trees, but these are Federation Trees, planted on the first day of the 20th century to celebrate the Federation of Australia.
There were 157 memorial trees planted throughout the township on August 19, 1916.
Port Macquarie News reported on August 12, 1916 that the idea was proposed by Robert Longworth. Mr Longworth was the town’s leading timber miller.
“The idea, which is a novel one, was proposed by Mr R Longworth and was readily taken up by the townspeople,” the article read.
“It was also decided to ask the residents of the Camden Haven district who have relatives at the front or in training to join the function.
“The Laurieton people are looking forward to a successful arbour day.
“The trees will be living memorials of the brave deeds of the men on active service.
“The relatives of each particular soldier will be responsible for the care of the tree representing him.”
On August 19, 1918 a further 36 trees were planted, for those who had been gone since 1916 and a memorial plaque was erected for Pte. Robert Laurie.
Of the 156 servicemen listed on the local war memorials 35 did not return. The 22 per cent death toll was typical to all WW1 Australian servicemen, the highest of all the allies.
Mr Bowman’s book includes historical photographs from the time, transcribed newspaper articles, surviving tree species, the memorial trees connected to soldiers and information on the future management of the trees.
Information in the book supported an application for the heritage listing of the ‘Avenue of Honour’ memorial trees in Laurieton, with the NSW Heritage Register and the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.
The book, Camden Haven’s ‘Avenue of Honour’ WW1 memorial Trees 1916-1918, is available from the Museum in the School of Arts, Bold Street for $15. The Museum is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
Mr Bowman thanked Joyce Ormsby, Jan Mitchell, Michael Dodkin, Elaine Van Kempen and Stuart Read for their support.