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Welcoming Home Our Returned Soldiers

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Welcoming Home Our Returned Soldiers

Gazette 31st May 1901

A public meeting was held in the Mechanics’, Morwell, last night, for the purpose of making arrangements for a public welcome home to those soldiers who have returned from the seat of war. There was a good attendance, Cr. Macmillan, president of the Morwell shire, being voted to the chair.

The chairman in opening the meeting said they had met for the purpose of taking steps to arrange a fitting reception, to mark the esteem in which they held those who had gone to South Africa to fight for the Queen and Empire. Some impromptu gatherings had been held when the men returned, and these receptions were hearty and enthusiastic, but he would like to see some lasting token erected that would perpetuate their memory for all time, and stand as an emblem of their heroic deeds when fighting side by side with the British soldiers in South Africa. But he thought that a movement of this kind was above them. Still he thought that too much might be made of these welcomes, and he was decidedly against hero worship. The men, in going to the war, had only done their duty, and having done their duty they were worthy of their highest esteem.

He would willingly assist in any movement that was got up to welcome them home. Whatever form it took they should see that it was kept free from the drink. He was against getting up anything that might cost 5s a head, 4s of which was spent on drink; and he was sure the men did not want anything like that. Their soldiers had worked hard and had risked their lives, and they should get up something that they could look upon with a little pride, and be a fitting recognition of those who had fought in defence of the British Empire. He would like to hear what the others had to say.

Mr. J. B. Hoyle said he agreed with what the chairman had uttered in regard to keeping out the drink from any demonstration they got up. They wanted the mothers and sisters of the men present. They should ask the ladies to provide the eatables and get up the social with the assistance of the men. The ladies had worked splendidly at the Mafeking demonstration. Their soldiers had reflected honour upon Australia, and they should honour them for it. What they did they would have to do at once as some of them were returning on the 12th June. He suggested that Mrs. Macmillan should take up the matter on behalf of the ladies.

Mr. S. Cooper said they should see how much they could collect, and then they would know what they could give them.

Mr. Aherin said he would like to see some permanent tablet erected at the cost of £ 150, but he thought that was beyond them. He had mentioned this matter to Cr Vary, who said he thought the council would donate £ 50 towards it, and he (Cr Vary) would give £ 5 towards it. He did not approve of the erection of the tablets in the hall, where they were out of place.

Mr. McNabb said he thought that if the whole district could not erect a tablet to cost £ 150, they were not worthy of the men who had gone from this district to South Africa. Later on he promised on behalf of his firm £ 10 10s. for such a movement, and the chairman said he would give £ 5 5s to the same object.

One of the members present said there was no necessity to have the welcome next Thursday night, as he knew for a certainty that the date for the return of the soldiers had not been definitely fixed.

Mr. Hoyle moved: That a welcome social be tendered to the returned soldiers in the Mechanics’, on Thursday evening, June 6th, and that the ladies be asked to provide the refreshments. Should there be any surplus the same to be devoted to form the nucleus of a memorial tablet fund.

The motion was seconded by Mr Aherin and carried unanimously. The mover of the motion said he was very sorry to see such a poor welcome given to Private Holmes when he returned a few days ago.

Mr Ahearn – No one knew he was coming.

The patriotic committee, with the addition of the chairman, were deputed to make all the arrangements for the carrying out of the social.

The meeting then terminated with a vote of thanks to the chair.