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WW1 tribute call

Saturday, 16th July, 2016

Bob Thorn stands proudly next to a memorial plaque which holds the names of all 368 Broken Hill soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. PICTURE: Daniel Stringer Bob Thorn stands proudly next to a memorial plaque which holds the names of all 368 Broken Hill soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. PICTURE: Daniel Stringer

By Daniel Stringer

A family member of two Broken Hill soldiers killed in World War One is calling for a memorial to be held to pay tribute to all the fallen locals. 

Bob Thorn was born in Broken Hill and even though he now lives in Sydney, he still returns regularly to visit family. 

The Thorn name has a rich history when it comes to war, with Bob’s father having served in WWII and Bob himself serving in the Vietnam War.  

It is his two great uncles that he has been focusing on lately however, as the 100th anniversary of their death in WWI approaches. 

Arthur and Reginald Thorn were among 368 men from Broken Hill known to have died in the Great War. 

Tomorrow marks 100 years since the Battle of Fromelles in which 5,533 Australian soldiers were killed. Among them were believed to be a large number of the Broken Hill men, including the Thorn brothers.  

It is because of this significant milestone that Bob would like a memorial service to be held in order to commemorate the service these men gave to our country and the city of Broken Hill. 

“These men volunteered to serve our country and paid the ultimate price, as they were killed in action. 

“My thought is, will there be a memorial for those 368 men to commemorate their involvement in the war?”

As part of tomorrow’s concert for Mandela day, the Broken Hill Community Voices will pay tribute to the anniversary through several songs. The tribute was arranged by musical director Robynne Sanderson, who recently discovered a relative was a victim of the battle.  

Bob congratulated Robynne on the tribute, but said he would like the RSL to show more of an interest. 

“I would like to see the RSL do something to commemorate the lives of the Broken Hill soldiers who lost their lives in the war, in particular the Battle of Fromelles.

“I am disappointed in the RSL’s lack of engagement and with them not putting their hands up and saying ‘this is our responsibility and this is what we are going to do.’” 

Bob said he had contacted the RSL several times in an attempt to find out information about any tributes.  

Broken Hill RSL president Des Kennedy told the BDT that the league would not be holding any special services to honour the local victims of the battle. 

“As for having a service here we have not planned anything because nobody has asked or said anything about it.

“You could just about have a memorial every second day for all the wars and all the battles that have been fought.”

So it may be up to individual community members to organise a memorial service to remember fallen family members, which is what Bob says is the most important thing. 

“These people were grandfathers, brothers, cousins, uncles and mates and they offered themselves when the call came to serve.

“It is important that we remember them and don’t forget their service and the sacrifice they made for us.”

The RSL will hold its Remembrance Day ceremony at 11am on November 11. This ceremony covers all wars and battles fought by Australian soldiers.

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