This year’s Anzac Day service was a special one for the Wallendbeen community.
As well as commemorating the service and sacrifice of the village’s servicemen and women, two additions to the Cenotaph and Wallendbeen Memorial Hall were revealed.
A World War I era German machine gun has returned to its pride of place in the hall, thanks to the efforts of Cootamundra’s John Rickett.
“One of Wallendbeen’s war trophies was a German Maxim machine gun which was captured by the 17th Battalion in Belgium in 1917,” Wallendbeen Memorial Hall committee member Marcia Thorburn said.
“This gun took pride of place in our hall, through many generations for 92 years, until it was stolen in mid-2014.”
Mrs Thorburn said the theft of the gun was a blow to the community, as it was dedicated as part of the first Anzac Day in Wallendbeen, in the then newly built memorial hall in 1922.
After it was stolen the gun couldn’t be located and it was in 2016 that the idea came about to create a wooden replica for the hall.
Several phone calls and letters led Mrs Thorburn to contact a curator from the Australian War Memorial’s military heraldry and technology department.
“He was very helpful, we received many photos, drawings with very accurate dimensions of the gun,” Mrs Thorburn said.
In 2017 a visit to Cootamundra’s Men’s Shed gave the members the opportunity to help create the gun.
Mr Rickett said it was a privlige and a joy to make the replica.
“It was an amazing job,” he said.
“Normally with me, these things go wrong. With this one, nothing went wrong,” Mr Rickett said.
Mr Rickett said he had never made anything like it before and used the machines at the Cootamundra Men’s Shed.
“I would like to thank the Men’s Shed for being able to make it,” she said.
While it only took 18 hours to complete, Mr Rickett said the job was important.
“My very earliest memory goes back to that hall,” Mr Rickett said.
“That gun was always in your face.
“I jumped at the chance [to make it] because I wanted to put it back.”
After it was revealed, Mr Rickett urged the community to think of the replica as memorial.
“The original was called a trophy gun but it wasn’t a pleasant thing,” he said.
“I asked people to think of it as a memorial gun.
“That type of gun was responsible for many, many deaths [of Australian soldiers], the word trophy doesn’t go down well with me.”
Mr Rickett also wanted to thank the Temora Aviation Museum for sending a Spitfire warplane to fly over the crowd at the Wallendbeen Cenotaph on Anzac Day.
The second memorial was a plaque presented to the Wallendbeen Kangaroo March Re-enactment Committee.
It can be found at the Wallendbeen Cenotaph.
The plaque commemorates the original Kangaroo March which was in Wallendbeen on December 9, 1915, when the Governor-General inspected volunteers and as a permanent reminder of the 2015 re-enactment.