Oakleigh Avenue of Honour


Planted: 19 August, 1923.
Location: Drummond Street, from Dandenong to Atherton Roads
Trees: Flowering gums (Corymbia ficifolia), later Cut-leaf planes (platanus orientalis 'digitata')


History in the Newspapers


The Argus: 17 March 1923
At a meeting of Oakleigh residents it was decided that an avenue of trees to the memory of 57 Oakleigh soldiers who gave their lives in the late war should be planted in Drummond Street. The trees to be planted will be flowering gums. Those present formed a committee to carry out the project, and a subscription list was opened.


The Age: 13 July 1923
The work of making the grounds and otherwise preparing for an avenue of honor in Drummond Street, Oakleigh, in memory of the soldiers from the place who made the supreme sacrifice in the recent war, has so far progressed that the dedication ceremony will take place at an early date. Chaplain McKenzie, of the Salvation Army, will conduct the religious service, and the dedication will be performed by Major General Sir Thomas


The Argus: 21 July 1923
The opening day of the Oakleigh Avenue of Honour, in Drummond Street, has been fixed as August 19. Chaplain McKenzie, of the Salvation Army, and Major General Sir Thomas Glasgow are to be present. The avenue has been prepared by the Oakleigh Council and residents of the district. Relatives and friends of soldiers who were killed in the Great War each contributed a tree on which is to be placed the name of the soldier in whose memory the tree has been planted. The tree guards have been made by Councilors and residents


The Argus: 25 July 1923
“Sir, - On Saturday it was stated in connection with the Oakleigh Avenue of Honour that relatives and friends of soldiers who were killed in the Great War each contributed a tree. This is not quite correct. At the first public meeting which was held it was decided to invite subscriptions from all, irrespective of whether the subscribers were relatives or friends or not, and giving the right to each person contributing the cost of a tree, tree guard, and name plate, to allot same in memory of any particular soldier. The cost of planting this Avenue,  which consists of 59 flowering gums, is between £60 and £70, and this amount has been almost all subscribed. The committee, of which the Mayor (Councillor W. J. Andrew, J.P.) is chairman, would be pleased to receive further donations. Arrangements are being made by the clergy of the district to conduct a choral service at the opening ceremony, which has been fixed for 3pm on Sunday, 19th August. Yours &c.,”
J. V. HUGHES, Councillor, Oakleigh July 24 1923.
Major General Sir Thomas Glasgow, KCB, CMG, DSO. 19 August, 1923 Oakleigh at the official opening of the Avenue of Honor.
“This avenue is in memory of those who never returned, and I am glad to hear that the work has been done voluntarily, for it was, in a way, a reflection of the work of the men at the front. I am also glad that the memorial has taken the form it has, for as the trees grow up they will always remind people of what these men had done.”

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 1

The trees stretched between Atherton and Dandenong Roads and the names of fifty-eight servicemen, their rank, and unit were displayed on bronze plaques mounted on cross-like stakes, and placed one to each tree.” 
Copyright Helen Gobbi, President of the Oakleigh & District Historical Society.
The Age: 26 November 1936
Work in connection with the removal of a number of the flowering gum trees forming the Avenue of Honor, Drummond Street, Oakleigh, has been commenced. It is stated that the trees have become affected by root disease, and that it is intended to replaced them by
others of a variety that were known to do well in the district.

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 2

Rose Stereograph image of the Presbyterian Church, Oakleigh. Note the white stake in front of the tree on the right that would have had a name plaque mounted on it. Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.


The Age: 10 December 1935
The work of removing the flowering gums in the avenue of honor at Oakleigh, which was recently found to be affected by root disease, has been completed, and within the next week or two they will be replaced by specimens of Tristania, an Australian subject, which bears handsome white flowers. The few flowering gums which have apparently thrived will be allowed to remain. The town clerk (Mr. J. A. Price, states that the soil in Drummond Street , which was selected as an avenue of honor, is too clayey to grow flowering gums successfully, but it is suspected that the tristania trees will do well there.
In the late 1940s, the press reported on the plans to remove the street-length line of palm trees which graced Drummond Street footpaths on both sides. The Avenue of Honor was also included in these debates, as the following newspaper extract demonstrates:


Oakleigh & Caulfield Times: 18 April 1946
At Monday night’s meeting of the Council a report was received from the Parks and Gardens Committee, consisting of Cr. Cook (Chairman) and Cr. Irvine, containing the following recommendation:
That the palm now growing on the footpaths of Drummond Street between Atherton Road and Dandenong Road be removed and replaced with grass for the reasons that the palms are a potential  danger to pedestrian traffic, they are interfering with electric light and telephone wires, some were recently the cause of a blockage in the sewer drains serving the Memorial Hall and Oakleigh Recreation Reserve, the probability of damage to the footpaths and street channels later on, and it is considered that the trees forming the Memorial Avenue are sufficient for the street.
Cr. Cook said that the palms were being examined … In addition, the palms were planted in the nature strips in the street behind the rows of Memorial trees planted on the street. In time these trees would expand over the gutters and the palms would eventually have to go.
Cr. Timmings: “Do you not think it wise to remove the present memorial trees growing on the street and plant new memorial trees in place of both the palms and the present trees on the places where the palms now grow? It would be a fitting memorial and greatly improve the street appearance.”
Cr. Cook: “I’m afraid we would strike trouble if we suggested the removal of the Memorial Trees.”
Cr. Timmings: “But they are not the original Memorial trees – they were replaced with the present trees possibly 12 years ago.”
Cr. Cook: “The memorial trees have a limited life but they could be left there while other trees are growing and so could be formed a fine avenue.”
The motion was carried, and at the following Council meeting on May 6 no residents protested against the removal of the palm trees.

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 3

Avenue plaque for Corporal P.W. Crowther
The trees in the Avenue of Honour were for many years a feature of the Anzac Day commemorations in the City of Oakleigh, as the following two articles demonstrate:


Oakleigh and Caulfield Times: 22 April 1948
ANZAC DAY. Next Sunday’s Celebration
Australia will proudly celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the landing in Gallipoli – Anzac Day – on Sunday next, and reverent observance of the time-honored occasion will be made. Special services will be held in all churches, while civic memorial services will also be conducted.
At the Cenotaph, wreathes will be laid by the President of the Oakleigh Sub-branch R.S.L., the President of the Ladies Friendship League, The Mayor of Oakleigh (on behalf of the citizens), and the President of Oakleigh branch of the Red Cross.
The march will then be resumed, passing along Broadway to Drummond Street, and back to the Memorial Hall. Oakleigh Fourth Boy Scouts and the Cubs will line Drummond Street, a member of  the Troop being posted beside the garlanded Memorial Trees in the Avenue of Honor in Drummond Street.
The Ladies Friendship League will as usual make the wreaths that will be placed on the name plaques attached to the Memorial Trees in the Avenue of Honor and at the Cenotaph. Householders and professional gardeners are invited to donate flowers, while assistance to make the wreaths will be gladly accepted. The ladies will be at the Memorial Hall on Friday to receive the flowers.

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 4

Avenue plaque for Lance Corporal W.A. McPherson


Oakleigh and Caufield Times: 21 April 1949
ANZAC DAY. Oakleigh Memorial Service. Flowers Wanted.
Following the custom of the years, the Ladies Friendship League will make wreaths and place them on the name plates in the Avenue of Honor, Drummond Street, early on Monday morning. This is the civic tribute to Oakleigh’s honored dead.
Householders are invited to forward flowers to the Memorial Hall on Saturday or Sunday. A large quantity of flowers is required for the wreaths, but gifts from local and district gardens will ensure a sufficient supply. Assistance to make the wreaths will also be welcomed.


Oakleigh & Caulfield Times: 21 April 1949
The passing years are thinning the honored ranks of the pioneers of many of Oakleigh’s worthy movements and enduring institutions and the new oncoming generation often has little access to the knowledge of the thrilling past. One of the honored guests at the smoke night of the Oakleigh
sub-branch of the R.S.L. last Friday week was Mr. Bill Griff, and, while mention of his name may convey little to the younger generation, to the boys of the brigade it unerringly releases a flood of happy memories… It was Bill Griff who gave Oakleigh the fame of first publicly announcing the news of the Armistice in 1918, much to the consternation of an official in Melbourne. It was Bill Griff’s idea when the Avenue of Honor was laid down in honor of the Oakleigh boys of World War I who had passed away, to have wreaths placed on the tree guards on Anzac Day and the silent, thoughtful tribute has been carried on unbrokenly since… He invited the members of the (Ladies Friendship) League to make a wreath for each tree in the Avenue of Honor bearing the names of Oakleigh’s honored dead, and one large one for the Memorial Hall for use at the memorial service on Anzac Day. 


Oakleigh & Caulfield Times: 3 April 1952
Stating that its members were somewhat concerned at the lack of public care in keeping the trees in the Avenue of Honor, Drummond Street, in a proper state, Oakleigh sub-branch R.S.L. asked Oakleigh Council to take some steps to prevent further destruction of the trees, which, it was
pointed out, were memorials to local members of the forces of 1st World War who made the supreme sacrifice.
“In bringing the matter before the Council,” stated the branch’s letter, “it is hoped that, through you, your Parks and Gardens Committee may be able to suggest some way in which the trees in question can be protected from the wanton sacrilege which has often been shown in the past. It is understood that some years ago tree guards for the protection of the trees were in existence.” “If the Council can offer any suggestion,” added the letter, “the committee will be glad to contact you and co-operate in keeping the Avenue of Honor in a state worthy not only of its original purpose
but of the City itself.”


Cr. Miller, who is President of the Oakleigh sub-branch R.S.L., said he endorsed the sentiments expressed in the letter. Not only the R.S.L., but citizens were perturbed at the wanton destruction of the trees in the Avenue.
Cr. Miller moved that the matter be referred to the Parks and Gardens Committee for consideration. The motion was seconded by Cr. Hughes.
Cr. Timmings: “It is a pity that the trees had been planted on the road instead of the footpath, but at the time they could not be planted on the nature strip because of the palm trees then growing there.” The motion was carried.

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 5

 Avenue tree across from Oakleigh Mechanics Hall, c1950


Oakleigh & Caulfield Times: 15 April 1954
A sparsely-attended public meeting called by the Mayor of Oakleigh (Cr. W.G. Cole) and held in the Oakleigh Memorial Hall last night, decided that Oakleigh should have some distinctive form of recognition for the men and women of Oakleigh who enlisted in the 1939-45 War. A committee of
seven citizens was appointed with instructions to proceed with plans for the approved memorial. Springing from a suggestion made by Dr. V.C. Brown, the meeting decided that the memorial should take the form of increasing the height of the present Cenotaph at the Dandenong-Warrigal Roads intersection.
This will permit an additional inscription to be placed at the base of the column, the establishment of a “Field of Remembrance” or Memorial Garden in the plantation at the rear of the Cenotaph, and the extension of the Avenue of Honor (Drummond Street).

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 6

Oakleigh Cenotaph in its original location in Dandenong Road.


The Standard Times: 28 October 1970
Does this look like an Avenue of Honour? It’s supposed to and has since 1921. Oakleigh War Memorial Committee has decided to do something about Drummond Street to make people more aware of the fact it is a memorial street. Originally it was lined with 58
trees each with a small brass plaque in the ground bearing the names of those from Oakleigh who were killed in World War One. But the number of plaques has dwindled to about 30 and many people suspect that the missing 28 have ended up in the scrap metal dealers yards around Melbourne. 

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 7

Avenue plaque for Private G.V. Davis


A member of the War Memorial Committee and former editor of the Oakleigh Times, Mr. Doug Hayes of Oakleigh South said the committee intended placing four lamps in Drummond Street to carry plaques announcing that Drummond Street is a memorial street. A plaque will be added to the existing cenotaph bearing the names of the 58 soldiers whose names originally appeared under the trees. The plaques which are now under the trees will be removed. The lamps will be replicas of the memorial lamps in Hyde Park, London and will be lit by an eternal gas flame.

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 8

Drummond Street as it appeared in 1970 when the above letter was printed


Standard Times: 20 April 1988
Monash University Regiment is taking part in a traditional ceremony next Sunday to gain the freedom of the City of Oakleigh. The ceremony, on Warrawee Park oval at the D.W. Nicholl Reserve, starts at 9am. From there, the unit marches down Drummond Street, to be challenged by the City Marshall. The unit turns right into Atherton Road and, outside the municipal offices, Mayor Cr. Heather Norling takes the salute. After the parade, there is an Anzac Day service starting at 11.20am.  Later, there is a ceremony to recognise the Bicentennial and a re-dedication of the “Avenue of Honor” in Drummond Street, with Cr. Norling unveiling plaques in front of the Oakleigh R.S.L.

Oakleigh Avenue of Honour 9

Avenue plaque for Private J.T. Good


Soldiers Honoured

Bateman, S.A.
Bray, R.L.
Brennan, F.P.
Bromley, T.
Brown, S.G.
Coleman, H.
Connell, J.H.
Crowther, P.W.
Davis, G.Y.
Davis, R.S.
Dixon, A.C.
Dobson, E.A.
Doolan, W.R.
Downing, G.
Edwards, E.R.
Fenning, G.
Foster, W.T.
Good, J.T.
Hale, T.
Hall, A.E.
Hayward, G. F.
Hendrick, A.R.
Heywood, G.F.
Hivon, C.J.
Hughes, F.H.
Jennings, H. C.
Jordan, E.W.
Kannaugh, F.J.
Lacey, A.A.
Looker, F.K.
Looker, W.R.
Martin, A. M.
Mathrick, C.
Munro, A.
McCarthy, A.F.
McPherson, L.J.
McPherson, W.A.
Neil, L.J.
Oliver, C.S.
Orr, V.W.
Parker, J.L.
Pollard, J.H.
Richardson, G.W.H.
Roscoe, L.
Rowan, W.S.
Russell, J.H.
Salter, G.E.
Sanders, C.F.
Sloggart, G.R.
Smith, A.J.
Stafford, G.S.
Tait, R.W.
Turner, J.R.
Turner, J. R.
Walkerden, A.E.
Watson, R.H.
Watson, W.
Wearne, A.J.
Whitehead, E.H.
Parr, E.
Dixon, A.C.