Members Statement: 58th battalion commemoration

Mr CARROLL (Niddrie) — Last Sunday I had the honour of attending a function commemorating 100 years since the former City of Essendon held a farewell dinner for young soldiers of the local area leaving our shores to fight at Gallipoli. It is hard to imagine what would have been going through the minds of these young men at their send‑off dinner at the town hall in Moonee Ponds a century ago. Thankfully the farewell supper was eloquently reported on in the Essendon Gazette dated 10 September 1914. Under the headline ‘Send‑off to Essendon boys. A successful function’, the paper reported:

About half past six the 160 soldiers sat down to dinner, and the Mayor (Cr. J. Goldsworthy) having taken the chair, he tendered them a hearty welcome on behalf of the citizens of Essendon, stating that he knew they would do their best for the Empire.

Cr Goldsworthy was the youngest mayor of Essendon when he was elected to that position in 1914. By all reports he set a cracking pace supporting patriotic activities. He created the first honour boards in the Essendon town hall, one of which was headed ‘A tribute to the boys of Essendon for gallant services rendered to the Empire in the Great War’.

These young men made an invaluable contribution to our community and nation. They sacrificed their youth, health and life for the freedom we enjoy today.

I put on the record my thanks to the mayor of the City of Moonee Valley, Cr Jan Chantry, for hosting the commemorative luncheon and to the Essendon Historical Society, most  notably the Honourable Judy Maddigan and John D’Oliveira, who compiled and presented a remembrance book with all the names of the local soldiers to mark the occasion.

Finally, I thank Ev Reynolds of the 58th battalion who spoke on Sunday and gave an insight into what these fine young men faced 100 years ago under the leadership of Lieutenant‑Colonel Harold Edward ‘Pompey’ Elliott.