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18 April 2017

Lone Pines a tribute to the Gallipoli fallen

The Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, and Indigo Shire Mayor Cr Jenny O'Connor this morning planted a Lone Pine at the Memorial Park in Rutherglen as a tribute to Rutherglen District volunteers who died in WW I.

"This planting of these pines from the descendant of the Lone Pine is to remind future generations of the sacrifices made for the free and peaceful society we now live in," Cr O'Connor said.

"As the generations ahead see these trees grow to their full height, they will symbolise renewal and hope after such enormous sacrifice and loss."

Mr Bainbridge, Cr O'Connor and Cathy McGowan MP.
ABOVE: Mr Neville Bainbridge, President Rutherglen RSL Sub-Branch, Cr O'Connor and Cathy McGowan plant the final tree in the new memorial avenue.

Battle of Lone Pine

The Battle of Lone Pine took place between August 6 and 10 in 1915 during the eight-month Allied Gallipoli Campaign. Known as Plateau 400 or Lone Pine at Gallipoli, the fortified ridge position was marked by a single pine tree at the top.

2,287 Australians from 6 Battalions, including 80 officers, lost their lives storming the stronghold and resisting counter-attacks for three days. Seven Victoria Crosses were awarded. More than 7,000 Turkish soldiers died trying to retake it. The Turkish named it "Bloody Ridge".

Sgt Keith McDowell of the Australian 24th Battalion retrieved a cone from the actual Lone Pine tree's blasted branches. Sgt McDowell carried the cone for the rest of the war and on his return to Australia gave it to his aunt at Grassmere near Warrnambool in Victoria.

In June 1933 a tree propagated from the cone was planted at the Shrine of Remembrance in the Kings Domain in Melbourne. This iconic Lone Pine tree stood until 2012, when it was removed after storm damage and failing health.

Nothing was as bad as Lone Pine — Lt-Gen Leslie Morshead, Commander Australian 9th Division, the Rats of Tobruk.

The "other" Lone Pine tree

Another tree, Pinus halapensis, is also planted to commemorate the Anzacs at Gallipoli. Both came home to Australia when soldiers brought seeds and cones from the trenches as keepsakes and memorials, and each has its own story to tell.

Lance-Corporal Benjamin Charles Smith of the 3rd Battalion collected a pine cone from one of the roofing logs used in fortifications, which provided seeds for descendant trees propagated and grown in NSW, ACT and NZ. These trees are Pinus halepensis, not native to the Gallipoli Peninsula.

A study published in the NZ Journal of Forestry in 2007 confirmed that the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance tree is indeed Pinus brutia, native to the Gallipoli Peninsula. The true Lone Pine.

The Gallipoli Lone Pine trees planted at Memorial Park in Rutherglen are true descendants of the original Lone Pine at Lone Pine Ridge, descended from the Shrine of Remembrance tree in Melbourne.

"Nothing of course can detract from the symbolic significance of other Lone Pine memorials across the world," Cr O'Connor said.

"Regardless of species or location, the trees stand as a commemoration of lives lost, of the bond between Australia and New Zealand, and a symbol of friendship between the Australian and Turkish people."

The avenue of 11 Lone Pines trees is a joint project of Indigo Shire Council and the Rutherglen RSL Sub-Branch.

A commemorative plaque nearby will bear the following words:

The planting of this avenue of Lone Pines (Pinus brutia) was a joint venture between Indigo Shire Council and the Rutherglen RSL Sub Branch.

It is a tribute to those 115 local volunteers who paid the supreme sacrifice in WW1 (1914-1918) and whose names are etched into the adjacent cenotaph.


For further details and comments, please contact David Martin, Rutherglen RSL Sub-Branch secretary. Email Phone 02 6024 7471, 0427 043 294


For further information:
Contact Cr Jenny O'Connor
Phone 0417 126 409