New England At War

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Peter Hoare, a Saumarez Homestead Volunteer who is a mature age student studying history at UNE, is coordinating a special program of events and activities relating to the involvement of New England and in particular the White Family with World War I – The Great War.

Peter, ANZAC Day is coming up in April. What is happening at Saumarez Homestead to mark this event?

The National Trust at Saumarez Homestead is hosting a series of events focusing on the White Family and New England in the Great War, from 19th March to 2nd June 2018. Most of the events are to be held at the Saumarez Homestead. They will include an exhibition from19th March to 12th May; a museum workshop on military memorabilia and regalia on Friday 20th April; the Official Opening of the Conference that evening; a Commemoration Service on Saturday 21st April at 8am, followed by the Conference at 9am; and Open Days and House Tours with military themes on 23rd and 25th April. The activities will also include a Junior School Art competition from 19th March to 2nd June.

What will be on display for the Museum Exhibition?

The exhibition will feature photographs showing the local support for Australia’s WWI effort, including photos of the 33rd Battalion – “New England’s Own” and Lt. Colonel Harold Fletcher White. These are supplemented by memorabilia drawn from collections of medals, uniforms, souvenirs collected at the battlefields and local fundraising badges. Many of these items were provided by the Saumarez Homestead Collection, while others were supplied by the University of New England Heritage Centre and local museums and private collections. The exhibition will be open to the public from 19th March to 12th May.

What is the purpose of the workshop?

The purpose of the workshop is to identify and preserve Military Memorabilia and regalia. It will be open to interested museum curators and volunteers from the New England District. This workshop will be led by Bill and Janet Storer from the Newcastle Maritime Museum. It will be held on Friday 20th April, 9am to 4pm and will cost $20.

Who will be remembered at the Commemoration Service, and what is the main focus? 

The main focus of the commemorative service will be to remember the sacrifice that the local community paid in The Great War, especially by the 33rd Battalion. It will also commemorate Lt. Colonel Harold Fletcher White, who commanded the 33rd, 35th and 36th Battalions in the AIF. A plaque will be unveiled and a flag pole dedicated in their memory. The service will be held from 8am on Saturday 21st April in front of the Saumarez Homestead, and all members of the public are warmly invited to attend.

Who will be speaking at the conference, and what will they be speaking about?

The conference will feature addresses on the White Family and New England during the Great War. The keynote speaker will be Dr Melanie Oppenheimer, formerly of the University of New England, and her talks will be on Women and the War Effort in the Great War and Soldier Settlement in the New England District. The supporting local speakers will include Bill Oates on The 33rd Battalion, “New England’s Own”; Ian Johnstone, Poetry of the A.I.F.; Graham Wilson, War Memorials in the New England district; and Doug Lennox Australian Light Horse Museum Armidale. The Conference will follow the Commemorative Service in the Saumarez Conference centre and will cost $30.

What was the involvement of Harold Fletcher White in the A.I.F? 

Lieutenant Colonel Harold White CMG, DSO was born at “Saumarez” station, Armidale 1883, the son of Maggie and FJ White and died in Armidale 1971. He served with the 33rd Battalion in France and later Commanded 36th, 33rd and then 35th Battalions A.I.F. He was Mentioned in Dispatches three times, awarded the French Croix de Guerre and received the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George from King George V “for services in France and Flanders”. In 1919 he returned to “Bald Blair” to become a successful grazier and cattle breeder and was an active community man.

What other activities will be held over the ANZAC Week?

The Saumarez Homestead and grounds will be open on Sunday 22nd April from 10am and ANZAC Day 25th April. Guided Tours with an ANZAC theme will be available on Sunday at 10:30am, 2pm and 3:30pm and on ANZAC Day at 2pm and 3:30pm.

What are you doing to involve the young people in our commemorative events?

Local school children and families are invited to view the exhibition and to attend the open days. Special themed school excursions are available to view the exhibit and homestead from 19th March to 12th May.

We are also hosting the National Trust Saumarez ANZAC Art Competition. This is open to children from participating local primary schools from 19th March to 11th May. The finalists and winning entries will be exhibited from 26th May to 2nd June in The Armidale Regional War Memorial Library. The theme will be Armidale and the Great War. The sponsors will be Armidale Ex-Service Club, Gallery 126, Northern Inland Arts Society and the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

Thanks Peter.

For further details, please contact the Manager of Saumarez Homestead, Les Davis Ph: (02) 6772 3616. Mob: 0488 199 361.

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