WOOLSTHORPE punched above its weight when the call went out for volunteers to enlist for World War I.
A total of 35 men left their homes and farms in the quiet south-west Victorian rural district — sadly seven of them never came home after being cut down in battle.
“Every eligible male went off to the war,” said Woolsthorpe Community Progress Association member Sam Robinson.
Their names are inscribed in a marble column sitting above bluestone steps of the town’s 1921 war memorial which has a marble scroll with the inscription: “To our Woolsthorpe heroes”.
It also reads: “to perpetrate the memories of those brave men who fought and laid down their lives for us in the world’s great war”.
In three weeks the spotlight will shine on them again during the Anzac Day centenary service starting at 4pm. Names have been repainted in gold lettering and the monument moved forward to accommodate two new memorial walls honouring 40 other local residents who served in the World War II and subsequent conflicts.
More than $18,000 has been spent on refurbishing and extending the memorial precinct.
“The old memorial had a lean and was looking a bit tired,” Mr Robinson said.
“We’d been talking about doing something for a while and then a few months ago we found out about grants for the centenary preparations.”
Woolsthorpe again punched above its weight in grants allocations, scoring $10,000 from the federal government, $4000 from the state and $4000 from Moyne Shire Council. Victoria’s governor Alex Chernov gave his vice-regal blessing by officially opening the refurbishment in November along with relatives of William Lindsay who donated land for the original memorial.
Local residents Denis Richardson and Ray Walker spearheaded a sub-committee of the progress association and co-ordinated the refurbishment effort with assistance from other locals and businesses.
“It’s the result of more than two years of work,” Mr Richardson said. “Six metres of concrete were laid — it’s not going to fall over for a while.”
Moyne Shire mayor Colin Ryan said the project was a credit to local residents who worked hard to get it done.
“The current community wanted to pay respect to the fact that every eligible person in the district volunteered for the First World War effort,” he said.
On Anzac Day a rare machinegun captured from German forces in World War I will again be placed at the foot of the memorial as was done at the first official opening and for many subsequent years.