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Our world-travelled poppies

  • General
Monday, 20 Apr 2020

s ANZAC Day nears, our Wall of Poppies stands pride of place in the foyer of our Warrnambool Base Hospital to honour past and current armed services personnel.

This installation has been made with 1,000 poppies knitted and crocheted by people from all around the world. They were used for the poppy mats made for the centenary anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, as part of Canberra’s 2018 Parliament House Exhibition.

They are some of the 260,000 poppies Australian sisters-in-law Lynn Berry and Margaret Knight inspired the world to make when, in 2012, they decided to honor their dad’s Second World War service by knitting 120 poppies to ‘plant’ at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.

The idea went viral and the 5,000 POPPIES PROJECT was initiated to inspire knitters (SWH’s Janet Punch included) to make 5,000 poppies for a Remembrance Day installation at Melbourne’s Federation Square. From there, 250,000+ poppies went to London’s 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, then to the battlefields of France where, in September 2018, 62,000 of them – honoring the 62,000 Australians who died during World War I – were ‘planted’ across 4,000 square metres to commemorate the Armistice centenary.

Flown back to Australia, in 2019 the poppies were offered to community groups and that’s when march4mona, established by SWH’s Janet Punch and Suzan Morey in 2017 to honor Mona M Wilton, RN, RM INF WELFARE, AANS (8TH DIVISION), successfully secured 20 kilos of them. Janet and Suzan created the installation and SWH colleague David Hill designed and built the frame.

Mona trained at our Warrnambool Base Hospital in 1934-1937. In her service to her country she lost her life by enemy action on February 14 1942 as nursing staff accompanied the wounded being evacuated from Singapore on the Vyner Brook. A memorial window is dedicated to her in the Villiers building opposite our Warrnambool emergency department. It was unveiled on March 28 1953 by Wilma Young (nee Wilma Oram), representing the Warrnambool & District Base Hospital Past Trainees’ Association. Wilma was on duty with Mona during the evacuation and subsequently was taken prisoner for the remainder of the war.

A plaque and a brick from Mona’s Naringal rose garden was unveiled last year, in her memory, on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra. On February 16 1942, Imperial Japanese soldiers machine-gunned 22 Australian nurses and 60 Australian and British soldiers and crew members who had survived the sinking of the Vyner Brooke. The plaque and brick (pictured) were organised by local RSL members and the Panmure Action Group

The social distancing requirements related to Coronavirus have changed the way Warrnambool will this year commemorate ANZAC Day. Here’s what’s planned:

  • At 6am everyone’s encouraged to participate in a national ‘stand in’ at the end of their driveways for a minute’s silence
  • From 6am onwards everyone’s encouraged to click on the Warrnambool RSL’s Facebook page to view the streaming of an impressive pre-recorded ANZAC Day Dawn Service at The Cenotaph
  • From 10am every 15 minutes a wreath will be laid at The Cenotaph. We will lay our South West Healthcare wreath at 1.30pm

Page last updated: 15 December 2020

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