Memorial honours sacrifice of Yamaji in the ranks

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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Ron Cross and Graham Taylor at the opening of the memorial to Yamaji ex-servicemen at Bundiyarra.
Camera IconRon Cross and Graham Taylor at the opening of the memorial to Yamaji ex-servicemen at Bundiyarra. Credit: Geoff Vivian

Ex-servicemen Ron Cross and Graham Taylor say about 280 Yamaji men have served among the ranks in all of Australia’s wars since before Federation.

Many were not recognised Australian citizens at the time.

“Those blokes didn’t have to go, they were all volunteers,” Mr Cross said.

“They couldn’t have been conscripted because they weren’t even in the books.”

Instead, Mr Cross said, they volunteered to prove a point.

“It’s their country,” he said.

“And also to prove they are valued people, which they were.”

While they were valued comrades who saved many lives while on active service, Mr Cross said many returned to civilian life with no lasting recognition of their value.

he two men have spent several years on a project to create a memorial, not to war dead, but to Yamajis who served in Australia’s armed forces.

“There’s about 260 names there and there’s about another 20 to go up,” Mr Cross said. “A couple of them have KIA, which is killed in action, or MIA — missing in action, never found.

“People can come in and have a look and say, ‘there’s my pop, there’s my uncle’, and there’s someone they know on the board.”

The memorial opened in the grounds of Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation on Wednesday.

Mr Cross said he organised most of the design and physical work, while Mr Taylor was responsible for most of the research.

Mr Cross said it was a “work in progress” to which they hoped to add a pond and lighting.

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