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Cohuna burial site of Corporal Sydney Cyril West now marked

Aa headstone for Corporal Sydney Cyril West has been unveiled at Cohuna cemetery.

ZACH HUBBER April 21, 2014 3:39am

Cohuna-Leitchville RSL Sub-branch president John Brown with the new headstone for Corporal Sydney Cyril West.

Corporal Sydney Cyril West’s burial site was finally recognised during a ceremony at Cohuna cemetery on Tuesday.

The Gunbower man was buried in an unmarked grave after he died in a rail accident, between Leitchville and Gunbower, in 1942.

As per RSL policy, no Australian service person should be buried in an unmarked grave.

Cpl West’s grandson, Robyn Hare, contacted the Cohuna-Leitchville RSL Sub-branch three years ago to see what could be done about the grave.

Club president John Brown took the matter to the Victorian RSL, which helped fund the gravestone.

‘‘Everybody thinks it’s a great idea, a great tribute,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘It was not known to me until Robyn rang me a few years ago. I didn’t think we could do anything at the time.’’

Funding was contributed by Victoria RSL, Cohuna-Leitchville RSL Sub-branch and family members of Cpl West.

The WWI soldier was one of the earliest to enlist in the Australian Army with service number 793.

He embarked with the 5th battalion of the 1st AIF and served in Gallipoli.

After missing in action for two days he was found with a wounded shoulder.

He was hospitalised in Malta and Egypt before returning to Melbourne to recover.

He went to England in 1917 with the promotion of Lance Corporal and fought in France.

Cpl West and his company were disabled after a gas attack and returned to England, before he managed to return to battle until the armistice in 1918.

Following four years’ service, he married in England and returned to Australia where he worked for Victoria Railways as a ganger, stationed at Gunbower.

He and a workmate were struck and killed by a special train which was travelling on the same line.

He left behind a widow, three sons and three daughters.

Tuesday’s ceremony was attended by Cpl West’s grandsons Robyn Hare, Rob West and Ross West, his granddaughter Benita Hare and great-granddaughter Montana.

More than 20 people attended the service, where family members placed flowers, poppies and a wreath before observing a minute’s silence.

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