1 April 2022

Bowning community on board to honour its war veterans

| Sally Hopman
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Meticulous research has been done to ensure that the two Bowning honour rolls in the community hall are accurate. Photo: Supplied.

The village hall is always the centre of town so when something goes awry there, it’s time for the community to take action.

In Bowning (population 573 at the last Census) when it was discovered that of the two world war honour rolls in the hall, one had gone missing and the other was incomplete, Frances Atkins knew she had to do something.

Almost a local – she and husband Stuart have been farming their Bowning property since 1997 – Frances wanted to set the record straight when honouring those folk who had represented their village in World War I and II.

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“I think you could say I’ve gone through every service record I’ve been able to find to do this,” Frances said.

She’s spent months researching the project, using the resources of the Australian War Memorial, Department of Veterans Affairs, Australian Imperial Forces Project, Red Cross, Lions clubs, Trove, the National Archives, Department of Defence and local records to track down the village’s servicemen and women.

She’s checked and double-checked and with many descendants still living in the village, she believes she’s got about as close as she can to recording who served where and when.

“I’d like to give a special mention to Barry O’Mara who audited all our research,” she said.

Woman looking thorugh papers.

Frances Atkins goes through some of the documents that helped her research. Photo: Stuart Atkins.

Having the two honour rolls hanging in the newly-renovated village hall will be a perfect outcome for Frances and the volunteers who care for the old building.

Bowning claims World War I war hero Thomas Eccles, DCM, MM and other names like Collier, Edwards, Marlan, Morgan, Privett, Turton and Winter.

“Tom Eccles was born in Yass but his dad lived in Bowning – so we claim him, too,” Frances said.

“He was the standout being a great war hero, but there were also many others who deserve to be remembered as heroes. They were mostly farm labourers who went to war from here, but there were also chefs, station hands, railway employees – even a chauffeur.

“Many of their names still live on today.”

List of names

Frances Atkins has been scouring war records in her research into Bowning’s war heroes. Photo: Supplied.

World War II names include Alchin, Buckmaster, Carter, Cook, Cripps, Crisp, Davis, Eccles, Frost, Glover, Graham, Hannaford, Hilly, Masters, McDermott, McIver and McNally.

Names in the Voluntary Defence Corp include Barbour, Glover, McFeeters, Moorby, Smith, Turton, Walker, Walmsley and Weir.

The information compiled will now go back to the community to double-check everything and make any changes.

Born in New Zealand, Frances said she had no direct family connection to war veterans; she “just wanted to make it right in Bowning”.

“The community of Bowning has been very supportive with this project,” she said.

“We made the decision that anyone born in Bowning or enlisted with a Bowning address would be eligible to go on the honour boards.

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“Everyone knew one of the boards had gone missing and that the other one needed work. Last year we formed a new hall committee – and we’re now motivated to bring it back to life.

“There are about 500 people who live in the village and the hall is the centre of town.”

Built in 1926, the hall was updated recently with solar power and an updated kitchen and a host of community activities have been scheduled for this year.

Frances said the hall committee had applied for a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund the honour boards project and that a Bowning local had already donated a piece of mahogany timber to make the frames.

She said she hoped the honour boards would be in place by Remembrance Day this year.

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