Members of the Ku-ring-gai Historical Society (KHS) will soon be drawing to a close a massive research undertaking to commemorate their community through the Rallying the Troops series. A series of four books designed to celebrate Ku-ring-gai and all the service men and women through a factual yet personable collection of wartime history.
“We wanted to tell the story of each and every one of those service men and women who had connections with Ku-ring-gai in a short biography of each, plus chapters about Ku-ring-gai, chapters about the war itself, and how people from Ku-ring-gai were involved,” Dave Wilkins, co-author of the series explains.
“It started off as an idea to do a book, and then as the research got deeper and deeper we realised there was something like 1300 names throughout the nine suburbs of Ku-ring-gai, and there were a whole number of people who were left off and we ended up with 1800 names.”
Spanning three volumes as of September 2017, the series offers an in-depth look into the impact of the first world war on those with roots in Ku-ring-gai. Similar in structure, each volume provides an insight coinciding with a specific theme. For example, the latest issue (Volume III) provides insight into the medical perspective, with chapters on information about hospitals and evacuations to the role of nurses interspersed with a portion of the biographies of the 1800 names discovered
Dave recalls a number of reasons as to why the names may have been left out of a traditional memorial, ranging in anything from simply not knowing the memorials were being inscribed to the reality that the sheer tragedy of loss during war made reliving it in any form simply too painful.
Coming from a military background himself as a former Colonel, Dave has been able to sympathise with this notion and provide key insight into ensuring the series is as factual as possible.
“I am very aware of the bond that is created amongst soldiers, and very much understand what soldiers and their families go through.
“With my military background I advise on aspects on the military and terminology and the tactics, which the average civilian wouldn’t know.”
The fourth instalment will ultimately conclude the series and the team of KHS members are aiming to complete the final volume in time for the centenary of Armistice this November.
“We thought given all of the memorials throughout Ku-ring-gai, we just wanted to commemorate all the service men and women from Ku-ring-gai in more than just a name on a board or a piece of stone.
“We wanted to tell the story of each and every one of those service men and women who had connections with Ku-ring-gai.”
Dave Wilkins will be delivering a talk on Villers Bretonneux and the strategic importance of Amiens in the Somme Valley as a rail and logistics hub during WWI to commemorate the centenary of the final actions on the Western Front. This free KHS meeting will take place Saturday April 21 at 2pm in the Old Gordon School building.