FOR close to 60 years, Tim Sargeant of Bathurst has been collecting military and wartime memorabilia to preserve an important part of this country’s history for future generations.
And, with another Anzac Day upon us, the noted war historian holds fears that unless communities do more to acknowledge important figures from our wartime past, vital information will eventually be lost.
“I’ve been collecting medals and memorabilia for the best part of 60 years,” Mr Sargeant said. “But I’m only a custodian of these items and information. I’m holding them for future generations.”
Mr Sargeant has renewed his call for Bathurst to appropriately acknowledge local World War One heroes including Victoria Cross recipients Lieutenant Colonel Blair Anderson Wark VC, DSO and Lieutenant Arthur Charles Hall VC and war correspondent, historian and “father of the Australian War Memorial” Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean.
“I am quite passionate about the recognition of war heroes,” Mr Sargeant said. “And I would like to see some distinct recognition for these men.”
While there are small nods to Lieutenant Wark and C E W Bean across the city, including plaques, memorials, parks or photo tributes, Mr Sargeant believes more needs to be done.
“We need something more substantial, more visible to commemorate their bravery and heroism. The ultimate would be to have full-size bronze statues,” he said.
“If the people of today don’t do these things [erect statutes], our history will be lost. As time goes by, memories fade and we move on.”
And Mr Sargeant is perplexed as to why the city seems to be shying away from properly honouring people who made such significant contributions to our past.
“There seems to be a lack of will from the various bodies to do anything about it,” he said. “Not having the money is not a reason to not go ahead.”
Mr Sargeant believes Bathurst is behind the eight ball when compared with other regional towns and cities.
“Quite a number of towns throughout Australia that are much, much smaller than Bathurst have managed to raise the $80,000-odd to erect statutes to their VC heroes,” he said.
He gave the example of the tiny town of Blackall in Queensland where the small community funded an $80,000 memorial statue to Major Edgar Thomas Towner VC, MC.
“And just last year, Orange unveiled two bronze statues to commemorate those from that district who served and sacrificed,” he said. “To get something done it will take money and will and desire.
“The people of Bathurst are incredibly generous, but the individual and public purses can only stretch so far. What we need is a couple of benefactors.”
And the sooner the city acts, the better, Mr Sargeant said.
“We tend to leave it too late to look after our veterans and recognise our heroes,” he said.