Last Friday, the Dimboola Masonic Lodge opened its doors to the public for an Armistice Day Eve presentation of the Ceremony of the Vacant Chair. Officers of the Lodge led by the Worshipful Master Mike Haebich, carried out the solemn laying of wreaths at the foot of the Vacant Chair, which was draped with the Australian Flag, in honour of all fallen servicemen and women. Grand Lodge Herald, Noel Taylor of Warracknabeal sounded the Last Post and Reveille, and Grand Lodge Organist John Schneider of Dimboola gave musical support to the service.
People from Donald, Warracknabeal, Horsham, Hopetoun, Dimboola and Nhill, were present, including RSL representatives from Nhill, Hopetoun and Dimboola.
Following the presentation, Guest Speaker Pam Cupper, co-author (with husband Philip Taylor) of the book “Gallipoli..a Battlefield Guide”, spoke about their experiences in researching material for their book over many years during a period before the internet existed. They paid many visits to the battlefield sites, and searched through thousands of records to become respected authorities on the subject of World War 1.
Pam recently returned from a tour she conducted for a party of Wimmera people, to visit the sites on the Western Front where their ancestors fell. She mentioned some fallen servicemen who originally came from this area, listing many sad cases, including brothers who died within a few short weeks of each other, and small towns in this vicinity that suffered massive losses to their small communities. The evening concluded with a light supper, during which many more questions were asked and answered.