The Impact of the First World War on the Shire of Lillydale.
By A J McAleer OAM
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In the rural Victorian Shire of Lillydale the First World War tested everyone.
Not just those in uniform serving on the battle front, although the conflict remains the greatest cause of casualties in the Shire’s history, but also for those who remained at home.
It touched the lives of all its residents in a way that none could have imagined when it began with much fanfare and enthusiasm in 1914 and it would go on to reverberate for decades and even for generations after peace was signed.
This book retells the story, year by year and theme by theme, of the First World War from the perspective of those from one Victorian district who battled on the home front. Those who helped to support the war and kept the economy going in the various farming communities that made up the Shire of Lillydale. Here the war took priority over nearly all aspects of life and placed burdens on old and young, male and female, urban and rural.
The book records the achievements of those who participated in large-scale fund raising for the Red Cross, the Belgian Relief Fund and the State School’s War Relief along with a plethora of other war time causes and appeals. It studies the impact on local sport, commerce, religion and life on the land, the divisions of the conscription referendums and the unity of support for Britain and her allies and in the celebrations of the Armistice.
It highlights some notable Australian’s such as Dame Nellie Melba, Vice-Admiral Sir William Rooke Creswell and Mrs Aeneas Gunn as well as numerous everyday individuals and families who exemplified typical aspects of the experience during those war years.
It is a way to understand and appreciate the Shire’s role in this terrible conflict and it recognises this era as a significant part of the Shire’s history. There are stories here to lament and others to celebrate.
With a foreword by Dr Bart Ziino