Cowra families commemorate ultimate sacrifice at opening of WW1 memorial grove

Coe, Beatty and Hood.

These are just a few of the last names of the 78 Cowra soldiers who never returned home after WW1.

Their ultimate sacrifice was commemorated on Saturday morning with their descendants planting trees in their honour in the newly established WW1 memorial grove in the Cowra Peace Precinct.

In a short ceremony before the tree planting, Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West said it was a small way for the Cowra community to remember the fallen.

"It's wonderful to see so many families who have come this morning to pay their respects, to plant a tree, to mark that very special contribution that so many people did make," Cr West said.

Councillor Ray Walsh, who spearheaded the project, said the idea for a memorial grove came from a similar tree planting more than 100 years ago and will also be used as a habitat for the superb parrot population in the area.

"Commencing in 1917, a tree was planted for each of those men on the Boorowa and Grenfell Roads, those trees were planted through the determination of Abigail Ruth Fitzgerald, an aunt of Edward Harold Fitzgerald, who was killed in France," he said.

"Today, with many family members gathered here, it's appropriate that we acknowledge the families of those 78 men, we cannot comprehend the pain of parents, siblings, wives and children who received that dreaded telegram."

During the Welcome to Country, Wiradjuri woman Isabel Coe, a descendant of John Henry Alfred Coe and his nephews Cecil, Elijah, Walter and John who all served in WW1, said the event was also an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifice made by Aboriginal people during the war and the discrimination they faced on their return home.

"I feel it is imperative that whilst we honour the men and women who did not return from the war, we also remember the local men and women who did return from the war, including those, who upon their return, were not treated as equal citizens and acknowledge the local Aboriginal history," she said.

"When the Australian troops returned from the war, they were greeted with a hero's welcome.

"Aboriginal men and Aboriginal women fought alongside their countrymen... they however, had to go back to what they were before they went to war, being forced to line back up in the missions or reserves where they would become our forgotten heroes."