AS the centenary of Remembrance Day approaches, Bathurst historian Andrew Fletcher has been invited to Europe to honour the 2036 people from the region who volunteered to serve.
Hundreds of thousands of soldiers passed through the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium on their way to battle and it is here that Mr Fletcher will lay two wreaths.
Mr Fletcher said it would be an opportunity to remember not only the 2036 people from the Bathurst region who volunteered to go to the Great War, but also the 307 who were lost and killed.
The Menin Gate memorial arch bears the names of 55,000 soldiers who died during the Great War and have no known grave; 35 of those listed are from Bathurst.
“To represent Bathurst and honour our 2036 volunteers in the land they fought so hard to save means a lot to me personally,” Mr Fletcher said.
“As I have been researching them and telling their stories for over four years, I have come to know them as people. So I have the opportunity to raise awareness of those left behind.
When they volunteered in 1914, there was a lot of excitement. You were going away with your mates.
“Just for a moment, let’s remember their service and sacrifice.”
Mr Fletcher will lay a wreath for the Bathurst volunteers, and another for those from his birth town of Glen Innes, at the 11am Remembrance Service on November 11.
“I guess there won’t be a dry eye in Ypres that day,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be fairly emotional. They’re expecting something like 20,000 people to turn up [to the Menin Gate].”
Mr Fletcher said while the numbers of Bathurst soldiers might seem small, their loss would be significant in today’s terms.
“When they volunteered in 1914, there was a lot of excitement. You were going away with your mates and it was going to be a whole lot of fun,” he said.
“The 2036 volunteers would have been something like nine per cent of the total Bathurst population.”
The 307 who were lost or killed in four years, and the “48 per cent of our blokes” who were discharged as medically unfit, were a substantial part of the Bathurst region’s population, he said.
Mr Fletcher’s wreath that he will lay during the service will read “Lest we Forget” and “Bathurst Australia”.