ON the 100th anniversary of the battle that earned Lieutenant Colonel Blair Anderson Wark the Victoria Cross, war historian Tim Sargeant is still wondering why the VC hero hasn’t been properly memorialised in Bathurst.
From September 29 to October 1, 1918, Bathurst-born Lt Col Wark led a battalion in battle against the Hindenburg line on the Western Front.
He was acting as the temporary commander of the 32nd Battalion and under heavy fire displayed gallantry, bravery and initiative above and beyond the call of duty.
The actions he displayed across those three days of intense conflict saw him awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour for bravery.
A century later, Lt Col Wark remains the only Bathurst person to have been awarded the commendation.
Mr Sargeant said the efforts of Lt Col Wark are deserving of far more recognition from the Bathurst community than a plaque on the Carillon or a position on the Pillars of Bathurst.
A statue of the war hero is his ultimate goal.
He made the same call on the 100th anniversary of the Anzacs landing at Gallipoli, but there has been no progress despite his efforts.
“I haven’t been able to get any real support from the RSL Sub Branch or the council. I’ve been to the federal member, too,” he said.
The ideal spot for a statue of Lt Col Wark, Mr Sargeant said, would be in Haymarket Reserve, located to the side of the existing ambulance station on the corner of Durham and William streets.
“I think that would be a wonderful place, to have a statue down there,” he said.
Mr Sargeant anticipated a statue to cost around $60,000, and said he felt the cost was one of the reasons this project was continually being overlooked as other local causes had apparently taken priority.
However, he said commissioning a memorial statue of Lt Col Wark needed to be put on the agenda, as it would be achievable through a combination of funds from the sub branch, Bathurst Regional Council and state or federal government grants.
“From my perspective, I think it would have to be the responsibility of the Bathurst RSL Sub Branch or the council has to push for it,” Mr Sargeant said.
“It shouldn’t be up to an individual to do it.”
Orange has two Victoria Cross winners, both of whom have memorials honouring their accomplishments.
Mr Sargeant said Bathurst needs to do the same to not only honour Lt Col Wark, but to ensure he is remembered by future generations.
“A lot of people have never heard of him and I think that is just terribly, terribly sad,” he said.