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Local rest stop project honours gallant Western Australian servicemen

For more information, contact Terry Waldron Waldron (Member for Wagin).

The service and sacrifice of WA's Victoria Cross (VC) and George Cross recipients will be remembered with each recipient being commemorated at rest stops along the Albany and South Western highways.

According to Local Member Terry Waldron MLA, the project is similar to Remembrance Driveway on the Federal and Hume highways, between Sydney and Canberra and will see plaques honouring WA's 17 VC and two George Cross recipients placed at the rest areas.

Mr Waldron said the rest stops would be located on Albany Hwy between Perth and Albany, and along SW Highway between Pinjarra and Kirup.

“I am delighted that our Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients will be honoured at rest stops throughout the southern part of our State,” he said.

“This is a fitting tribute to these gallant WA servicemen. And one of these servicemen was a local man – Private Percy Gratwick – who was born in Katanning. He was actually awarded his VC posthumously, after sadly being killed in the same World War II battle he was cited for showing exemplary ‘brave and determined action’ in.”

VC recipient Lieutenant Alfred Gaby, although born in Tasmania, was labouring in Katanning (WA) when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), during World War I, and Private James Woods VC also worked in the Katanning region as a labourer prior to enlisting in World War I.

Mr Waldron said the commemorative plaques would be installed in chronological order, starting with Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Bell VC on the SW Hwy. Each will contain a short biography of the recipient and part of their citation as gazetted.

"The series of plaques will be called Commemoration Way and will be rolled out between ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, this year," Mr Waldron said.

“I often drive along the Albany Highway, which runs through the Wagin electorate, and not only will these plaques provide a lift to the rest stops but they will also provide a history lesson to locals and tourists to this part of the State.”

While the Victoria Cross is awarded for extreme gallantry in the face of the enemy, the George Cross - open to service personnel and civilians - was in recognition of extreme bravery that did not involve contact with the enemy. Further, in 1975 the George Cross was replaced by the Cross of Valour and to date, no WA servicemen or servicewomen have been awarded it.

The Department of Corrective Services will provide a work party of minimum security (Section 95) prisoners to install the plaques.

Transport Minister Dean Nalder said he was pleased to have Main Roads Western Australia involved in the Centenary of ANZAC initiative.

Please visit https://anzac.dpc.wa.gov.au/CommemorativeActivities/Documents/This-Gallant-Company-of-Brave-Men-VC-GC-Recipients-May-2015.pdf

For media enquiries please contact Terry Waldron on 9881 1225 or email terry.waldron@mp.wa.gov.au