LEGERWOOD, a tiny hamlet near Ringarooma, had not even been named in 1914 when the call went out for young men to join the Anzacs to fight in World War I. But from this relatively unknown community, the able bodied fathers, husbands and sons bravely stepped forward to answer the call. Seven of these men did not return.
On 15 October 1918, family and friends of those fallen planted nine trees – one for each man, one for Gallipoli and one for the Anzacs – determined never to let them be forgotten.
Legerwood was officially named in 1936, and gradually the memorials grew, and the wartime residents moved on… until the reason the trees were planted remained known by just a few of the locals.
Time takes it’s toll, and in 1999 the trees were declared a safety risk and the memorial appeared destined to be lost forever. But, in the spirit in which the trees had been planted so many years before, the tiny but determined community rallied and enlisted the talents of skilled Tasmanian chainsaw carver, Eddie Freeman, to bring the soldiers back to life in sculpture. Extensive research relating to the men’s stories and photographs has ensured the carvings are as authentic as possible.
Legerwood now has a lasting tribute to their fallen heroes, flanked by a Weymouth Pine at either end. It is situated in the Main Street, with gently rolling parkland, picnic area and BBQs, together with souvenirs and friendly volunteers in the restored Train Carriage. Take time out to stop and contemplate the stories of those represented in the carvings.
Now, if you ask a local about John McDougall, Alan Andrews, Thomas Edwards, William Hyde, Robert Jenkins, George Peddle or John Risely, they will point to their war heroes, standing tall in the Main Street.
Private Alan Robert Andrews – died in France on July 25th, 1916 aged 19 years: Alan Andrews was the first soldier born and raised in the area to give his life. A farmhand on his family’s farm, Private Andrews is depicted with his dog, hat in hand, seemingly waving goodbye to his loved ones.
Private Thomas Edward Edwards – died on February 19th, 1918 and was buried in Belgium: At the highest point of what remains of a giant American Sequoia, Thomas Edwards stands with his wife in their final embrace before he sets off to war. Surrounding them are the harrowing scenes of battle mixed with the joy of family welcoming home returned servicemen.
On one limb sits a man with bandaged eyes, suffering from the effects of mustard gas while next to him lies a soldier with a mirror box looking out over the trenches.
Further around the tree a little boy waves farewell as a smiling daughter sits on her grandfather’s shoulders, welcoming her father home.
Private William Henry Hyde – died aged 27 years. In France on July 7th, 1916: Shouldering his lumber, sawmill hand William Hyde stands next to a saw blade representing an industry that was – and still is – part of the life-blood of the community.
Private Robert James Jenkins – aged 28 years and killed near Flers (Somme) July 1st, 1917: The story of Robert “Bobby” Jenkins is perhaps the most poignant of the seven men. Private Jenkins migrated to Ringarooma from England at the start of the 20th century and made his living touring local halls as a tenor. It was in his new found home that he met young Amy (Trippy) Forsyth, and the two were engaged shortly before he went to war.
Private Jenkins fell at the Somme in 1917 and a heartbroken Trippy never married. She kept a photo of Private Jenkins, together with his engagement ring, beside her bed until she died at the age of 76. The photo was used to carve his likeness in the tree, looking across at his fiancé on an opposite limb.
Private George Peddle – aged 25 years and killed at Passchendaele on October 13th, 1917: Private Peddle was the son of George Peddle Snr, famous for his wooden chairs which have now become sought after collectables. Before he enlisted Private Peddle was the Manager of his father’s sawmill, a bushman and a bullock driver.
Private John Henry Gregg McDougall – aged 19 years. Died at Passchendaele on October 13th, 1917: Private McDougall was a porter at the Railway Station, which once stood directly behind the memorial reserve. His statue now stands holding signal flags directing traffic through the town.
It is ironic that Privates McDougall and Peddle both fell on the same day in the same battle at Passchendaele; this would have been very little comfort for their families in such a tight-knit town.
Lest We Forget.
While elsewhere in Tasmania people are tucking up by the fire and going into winter hibernation, North East Tasmania comes alive to celebrate and showcase local arts and crafts annually on the June long weekend.Discover more… + MAP