The Remembrance Day service in Delungra will draw on local history for its commemoration

Remembered: Cecil Hills (far right) with his family in England before he migrated to Australia and became a farm labourer in Delungra.
Remembered: Cecil Hills (far right) with his family in England before he migrated to Australia and became a farm labourer in Delungra.

Mulitple tributes will be made in Delungra on Saturday when the traditional Remembrance Day service combines with commemorating a century since the district’s Honour Roll was unveiled and the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beersheba. 

Delungra historian Peter McCarthy has developed a service that links the events of World War I back to his local community by researching the people who lived and worked in the district during the Great War. 

Through those connections, a newly restored Honour Roll - listing the names of 106 men from the district who fought in the war - will be freshly unveiled by Inverell mayor Paul Harmon but not just in memory of those who served in battle but also those who served at home – in particular the Delungra woman who first unveiled the large brass plate in 1917.  

That woman was Mrs Mary McLeod who performed the ceremony at Delungra’s old School of Arts Hall shortly after her youngest son, Lester, was killed in France. 

On Saturday, Mrs McLeod’s great grandson, Robert Batterham - a retired Sydney academic with farming properties north of Moree – will also speak at the service helping to link the century-old past with the present.  

Mr Batterham will be one of many descendants of those named on the Honour Roll who will attend the service with today’s relatives travelling from as far as Cootamundra and Dalby to pay tribute to their forebears. 

Mr McCarthy will also draw local connections in his speech about the battle of Beersheba, fought in Palestine on October 31, 1917; and how it led to the death of 25-year-old Delungra farm labourer Cecil Thomas Hills just a few days later.  

“In 1912, Cecil emigrated to Australia,” Mr McCarthy said explaining how the young man had grown up with his parents and seven brothers and sisters on a farm in Suffolk in England: “He took a job as a station hand with Colin Macintyre at ‘Dunvagen’ in Delungra.”

Enlisting with the Australian Light Horse Brigade, Cecil would ride into their last charge at Beersheba, where he received wounds that led to his death on November 3.

Saturday’s Remembrance Day service will start at 10.30am at ANZAC Park in Delungra. 

Senator John Williams will also give an address at a luncheon being held at Delungra Memorial Bowling Club afterwards. 

Inverell RSL will also hold a Remembrance Day service on Saturday at the Inverell War Memorial starting at 10.45am.