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We will remember them

The stone Digger link to Seymour.

TIM WHITFORD November 7, 2012 4:56am

Arthur Fell posing for a Digger sculpture.


A stone Digger of the Great War of 1914-18 atop a marble plinth, solemnly guards the names of the dead etched into the stone column below him.

It’s such a familiar sight to so many Australians.

An army of these stone warriors of a bygone war gaze out from war memorials all over Australia. They stand in cities, country towns, and at crossroads, now deserted, but where once there were thriving communities.

They have become part of the background of our lives, much loved and precious; a vital part of our heritage.

They represent every Australian serviceman; they are ‘‘the Digger’’.

Remembrance

Lilydale War Memorial

What is less known is that a great number of the stone soldiers have a link to our town of Seymour.

Arthur Fell was an 18-year-old stonemason from Yarraville, Victoria who volunteered to serve Australia during the Great War.

Arthur was allocated to the 37th Infantry Battalion, a unit that was formed, trained, and left for war from its camp at Seymour.

The people of Seymour took the men of the unit into their homes and hearts and continued to support them throughout the war.

The 37th Battalion’s connection to Seymour was so strong that it was sometimes known as ‘‘Seymour’s Own’’.

Arthur served proudly in England, France and Flanders before returning to Australia at war’s end to take up his old trade as a stonemason at Lodge’s Stone Masons.

The company was among the most successful producers of the now-famous sculptures of stone soldiers.

These sculptures were purchased by communities and sent to all corners of Australia, where they quickly became the heart and soul of communities shattered by the grievous loss of so many men during the war.

Being the company’s youngest employee and also a ‘‘returned man’’, it was Arthur Fell who became the model for the stone Digger.

It’s believed that Arthur modelled for at least three different poses of Digger memorials.

On November 11 at 11am thousands of people all over Australia will gather at the base of their beloved Digger memorial to remember the dead at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Arthur Fell, a real man of flesh and blood who started his journey to war at Seymour, immortalised in stone and who came to represent every soldier, will stand above it all as he has for decades; a silent sentinel over the dead.

 

 

 

■ Remembrance Day is on Sunday.

Local commemorations include at the memorial gates at Seymour District Memorial Hospital (assemble at 10.45am).

■ Our community has lost many sons to wars, and they will be remembered on Sunday.

Included among them is Warrant Officer Noel Lowes from Seymour.

Mr Lowes was in the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and served two tours in Vietnam aboard armoured personnel carriers.

A career soldier, he showed great bravery during the battle of Long Tan on August 18, 1966. According to his fellow APC crew members, as radio operator he ran about 200m across open ground under sustained enemy fire.

Although his acts of bravery were recommended for recognition by his officers, his feats were never officially recognised. However, to Mr Lowes’ mates who were there, the determination he showed on that afternoon in the rubber plantation in Phuoc Tuy province is still remembered today.

He returned to Vietnam again in 1970-71 and served with the reconfigured 3rd Cavalry APC at Duc Thanh. The war took a heavy toll on him. He died in July 1971, a casualty of the Vietnam War, but importantly to his family, a brave soldier of that war.

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