By Jess Baker
Warwick RSL Sub-Branch board members gathered yesterday to unveil the newest addition to the Leslie Park War Memorial Precinct – a memorial wall designed by one of their own, Mark McGowan.
Three black granite panels have been added to the sloping front wall of the sandstone dais with laser engravings similar to the Dungaree Memorial outside the Cenotaph gates. The centre panel has the shape of a Veteran’s headstone and depicts the silhouette of a soldier resting on arms reversed, a photo of the Warwick War Graves and The Ode.
Warwick RSL Sub-Branch board member John Greacen wrote that this “symbolises the respect afforded to the Fallen.”
The two outer panels contain 32 images of service on land, sea and air on a timeline, represented by a vine, from the formation of the Federation of Australia to the present. A single vine extends from 1900 to 1950 then splits into three vines, signifying a shift from ‘War’ to ‘War, Peace Keeping and Humanitarian’ operations carried out by Australian Defence Force personnel.
“The contribution of every individual is given equal coverage so that the youngest Veteran or Serving Member can see their position on the timeline and that of those who also have served,” wrote John.
The “master plan” for refurbishment was first conceived in 2012, but fundraising did not commence until 2016 when a veteran community committee under the chairmanship of John Felton assumed charge. Support for the project flooded in from the community, federal, state and local governments and a total of $94,000 was raised from donations and grants.
The project was deemed feasible and was handed to Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) to organise the tender process and project management from July 2018. A year later, the new sandstone dais was officially opened by the Hon David Littleproud MP and former Mayor Tracy Dobie.
John wrote that on 14 September 2019, when all construction invoices had been paid, the fundraising committee’s bank accounts were closed and grants were acquitted to the satisfaction of the financial managers of the fundraising committee.
“There were insufficient funds for the proposed memorial wall panels but as the Warwick RSL Sub-Branch was committed to see the project through, SDRC invited proposals for the design of the war memorial plaques,” John wrote.
“Former member of the fundraising committee, Mark McGowan, produced a concept that was widely accepted.”
The Warwick RSL Sub-Branch funded and assisted the development of Mark’s design. They selected Graphiker on Demand to develop the graphic design, and Michael and Pili Zuniga of MP Laser Engravings of Stanthorpe to supply, engrave and install the black granite panels to the Memorial Wall.
“Obtaining the special polished black granite during the global pandemic has been a serious challenge and several other issues have caused delays but installation was completed for Remembrance Day 2020,” John wrote.
Warwick RSL Sub-Branch board members said that while the Leslie Park War Memorial Precinct is not yet complete, they are very pleased with the new addition.