This installation was made with 1,000 poppies knitted and crocheted by people from here and 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’re 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 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’ 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 staff 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. Volunteers assisted Janet (pictured, from left) and Suzan to create 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 Mona 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.
In 2019, local RSL members and the Panmure Action Group organised for a brick from Mona’s Naringal rose garden and a plaque to be unveiled on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra. There, 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.
On behalf of our SWH family, our CEO Craig Fraser will lay a wreath to honor past and current armed services personnel during the Warrnambool RSL ANZAC Day Dawn Service on Monday.