Governor opens replica WWI trench

Jon SolmundsonGeraldton Guardian

WA Governor Kerry Sanderson took a trip to the Mid West last weekend to officially open the reconstruction of Leane’s Trench at Northern Gully, near Geraldton.

Dug out in the past four years by volunteers from the 11th Battalion AIF living history unit, the trench, situated about 36km east of Geraldton, is an exact replica of a Gallipoli trench constructed by Turkish forces in World War I.

About 100 people weathered the howling wind and hot sun to witness the opening ceremony for the 120m-long, 2m-deep replica, with entertainment provided by the Royal Australian Navy Band WA.

Mrs Sanderson toured the trench and said it had great potential to educate visitors on the conditions soldiers faced in Gallipoli.

“This will particularly benefit students, for generations to come,” she said.

“We save the stories of the Anzacs globally to save those values which Australians became known for in times of war; the moving qualities of zeal, courage, inventiveness, humour and mateship.

“I would like to particularly extend a thanks to all those who helped in the preservation of this part of our history through the construction of the replica of Leane’s Trench.”

Major Chris Cox of the 11th Battalion living history unit recounted some of the history of the men who had originally fought in the trenches.

“Within the first 10 days of August at Blackboy Hill, east of Perth, the Battalion was formed with 1200 men from throughout rural WA,” he said.

“I think it’s amazing because even with today’s technology you’d be battling to get so many people together in that time.”

Mr Cox said the trench had just had its first group of cruise ship visitors through on Tuesday, and they had received very positive feedback.

“That went excellently, better than if you could have written a script to; everyone was delighted,” he said.

“We had a few comments that people wanted to buy more souvenirs and have more time at the trench for taking photos ... so they were saying we should look into a place where they can stand outside the trench and take photos of the soldiers inside.

“We have the next cruise ship on February 24 and in the meantime we’re going to open the trench one Saturday a month so visitors to town can come in, and we’ll be out there with our gear as a working party.”

The real Leane’s Trench earned its name from the Australian Captain Raymond “Bull” Leane who lead the 11th Battalion AIF’s charge into the trench in August of 1915.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails