When the call went out for young Australian men to assist in the WWI effort, more than 480 volunteers from around the Penrith region answered the call.
Of those who enlisted, 335 soldiers were born in Penrith; 73 in St Marys, 21 in Emu Plains, 18 from Mulgoa, 15 from Castlereagh and Luddenham, three from Kingswood, and one each from Jamisontown and Llandilo, according to Penrith City Council.
“A pretty fair effort, I think you would agree, from what was then a sleepy outpost on the western outskirts of the Sydney region,” Mayor John Thain said.
The efforts of the brave young men that answered the call is being remembered in a special exhibition space to be installed in the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, and last Thursday a piece of Penrith became a part of the project.
Dignitaries including Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies, Cr Thain, representatives from Penrith and St Marys RSL Sub-branches and locals attended the Luddenham Progress Hall to collect soil that will be displayed next to a plaque and the GPS coordinates of the collection site on the walls of the Hall of Service.
Close to 1,700 plaques will be created for every town, suburb and locality around NSW that enlistees for the First World War gave as their place of address as part of the project.
Ms Davies said the project would recognise the service of those who signed up not just in the big cities but tiny towns like Luddenham in the Great War.
“It’s an incredible honour to lead this ceremony, to take this soil, to secure in perpetuity the connection between that incredible, tragic history in our global story but also to link it so personally and so realistically to this region,” she said.
Penrith RSL Sub-branch president Mick McConnell said the project was very worthwhile.
“[It’s] something that will go into an area that will last forever, we hope, and another area that people can go and look and reflect, and think about their past,” he said.
St Marys RSL Sub-branch president Ron Blakely said both sub-branches were 100 per cent behind the project.
“We’re going to help out as much as we possibly can,” he said.
According to the Penrith District Roll of Honor 1914-1919, Cecil William Robert Howlett and Frederick George Eaton enlisted at Luddenham for WWI. The former died on May 2,1915, and the latter on April 19, 1917.
Their memorials are located at Gallipoli and Palestine respectively.