Keith Weston’s link to tree avenue

HONOURING VETERANS: Keith Weston (front) applauds Deputy Mayor Bob Kirk’s (left) efforts to resurrect avenues of of trees honouring personnel who served in the various theatres of war. They are standing on Park Rd where an avenue, now gone, was planted in 1919. Goulburn RSL Sub Branch member Squadron Leader (ret’d) Mark Collins is also on the working party exploring the idea. IN the middle of the Second World War, a young Keith Weston joined his Goulburn East School friends at an avenue of trees in Park St.

The then eight-year-old, fellow students and teachers were there to lay wreaths in honour of in World War One servicemen.

In 1919, Eastgrove residents had initiated an avenue of honour along what was then known as Park St, later Park Rd. The line of trees ran from Hercules to May Streets and paid tribute to each of the 86 servicemen from the small suburb.

Goulburn East students had planted the trees in what was dubbed a true community effort.

On the September, 1919 opening day a “large crowd” gathered amid a “bleak wind” and “icy rain” for the event, the Goulburn Evening Penny Post reported. The 5th Battalion band played and the Last Post sounded for “fallen heroes.”

The Mayor praised Eastgrove residents for their work and “thought it very appropriate that (servicemen’s) memory should be perpetuated.”

For Mr Weston, the wreath laying each ANZAC Day was particularly poignant. One of those trees was dedicated to his grandmother, Margaret Wilson’s son, Sydney Leonard Wilson who served in the 55th Battalion, part of that time in France. He was discharged in 1919.

Another tree paid tribute to his grandmother’s brother, William Goodwin, who served in the First Australian Light Horse in the Middle East and was awarded the Military Medal in 1916 for gallantry. He kept a meticulous diary of his service, returned from war and died in Goulburn in 1940.

Yet another tree honoured William’s brother, Jack.

“Every year my family would go along with the school and lay wreaths,” Mr Weston told the Post.

SACRIFICE: Keith Weston’s uncle, Lance Corporal William Goodwin, who was awarded the Military Medal in 1916, was one of the men honoured in the Park St avenue of trees.

“It was instilled in us as a very important thing to do.”

He recalled wooden plaques with the servicemen’s name either engraved or burnt on, and picket fences around each tree.

His family, including brother Max and his four sisters, lived in Hercules St. Eastgrove, affectionately known as Frogs’ Hollow, didn’t have as many houses back in the 1930s, but it was a tight-knit community nonetheless. That the suburb “across the railway tracks” produced 86 World War One Servicemen still surprises.

Those original trees have gone now but the significance of their planting hasn’t diminished.

“Looking back, the avenue is something that I’d like to retain and for the names to be carried on but when you’re young you don’t realise the full importance,” Mr Weston said.

“I fully support Bob’s initiative but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this avenue was the original one.”

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