It was almost 20 years after the end of The Great War before the stone structure, erected In Memory of those who enlisted in the Great War 1914-1918, was unveiled in DJ Smith Park, Canungra.
The Depression had seen to that and, by then, the bitter seeds sown in Europe in the armistice of 1918 were beginning to bear their poisonous fruit, a harvest to be reaped by another generation.
But as the world marched towards the abyss, there was still time to honour those who had served in what should have been ‘the war to end all wars’.
They came not only from Canungra but all around the then Tamborine Shire – Tamborine, Tamborine Mountain, and Beechmont, in those days Beech Mountain.
They came from all walks of life. There were farmers, farm hands, stockmen, civil engineers and labourers as well as the axemen and sawmillers central to the timber town of Canungra, where Lahey Brothers operated what was then the largest sawmill in the southern hemisphere. And among the names on the memorial is that of a nurse.
Many family names are listed in multiples – Blunt, Cavell, Cronk, Curtis, Duncan, Delpratt, Denny, Franklin, Gorman, Graham, Howard, Horne, Harper, Jenyns, Lawton, Lahey, Lane, McVey, Martin, Pascoe, Rankin, Rosser, Sharp, Shirley, Watterson, Wease, Walker and Walsh. These were the brothers and the cousins and even the fathers and sons who embarked together on a great adventure and instead discovered the horror of war.
Eighteen young men who left the district paid the supreme sacrifice, never seeing home or loved ones again.
Some were killed in action, others died of their wounds or from illness.
Those who survived often did not return to the area, establishing new lives elsewhere. Others returned, sometimes overcoming terrible wounds to lead productive lives in the community, enriching the lives of others.
For a long time it seemed as if those veterans of the first world war had always been here and always would be. And then, suddenly, it seemed, they were gone.
“There were so many and they were ours and we never really saw them”, wrote Les Carlyon in his epic book, The Great War.
The Canungra Answered the Call Centenary of ANZAC project aims to provide a fresh insight into the lives of those young people, who for so long have been just names on a memorial, and to really see them, if for the first time.
It can be easy to forget that each name on the roll of honour represents a life, sometimes a life not fully lived. In Canungra Answered the Call, we remember them all. Lest we forget.
The Canungra War Memorial is located in DJ Smith Park, Kidston Street, Canungra QLD 4275.