News & Media

Love and loss: WWI stories come to life in Belmont

  • From left: Federal MP Sarah Henderson, Murray Wilde, Elizabeth Wilde, Luke McDonald, Brian Dunn and Shane Cook.

By: CFA News

Category: Events / Fundraising / Offers, Honours & Awards, People

  2.48 PM 23 April, 2015


Location: District 7 News, General

Views: 1905

Arthur Harold Stenning was a founding member of the Belmont Fire Brigade. It was here he became mates with another member, Clifton Grenfell.

Like many young men of the time, they answered the call and signed up with the 1st AIF. Sadly, Clifton was never to return from Gallipoli, where he was killed in action at The Nek on 7 August 1915, while serving with the 8th Light Horse.

However, Arthur did return in July 1917 and love blossomed with Clifton’s sister, Irene. They married and in 1922, they welcomed their baby boy into the world, naming him Clifton Grenfell Stenning in Clifton’s honour.

This tragic, but beautiful story was one discovered as part of a special Centenary of ANZAC project which has brought life back to the names of those Belmont Brigade members who enlisted in WWI.

The project was celebrated on Sunday, with the unveiling of nine framed commemorative boards featuring photos, medals and information about the members.

Project team spokesman, Brigade 3rd Lieutenant Luke McDonald, said Sunday’s unveiling ceremony was the result of months of hard work and dedication.

“The project team conducted extensive research into the nine Belmont Fire Brigade members who enlisted in WWI,” Luke said.

“Their enquiries went as far afield as the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand and all states & territories of Australia. Once the research was completed, the team went about creating a commemoration to each of them that will be displayed on station.”

As well as Luke, the project team included volunteer Firefighter Shane Cook, Belmont Life Member Murray Wilde and his wife Elizabeth. Luke said they all considered it an honour to create the pieces of what is a significant part of the brigade’s 104 year history.

The project was undertaken with financial assistance from the Federal Government’s Anzac Centenary local grants program and Federal member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson helped unveil the memorials.

The team also received specialist assistance and guidance from Geelong RSL sub branch Vice President Mr Brian Dunn.

Robert Thomas Lennox was another member researched by the team. He served in Egypt, Gallipoli and on the Western Front. He was killed on 19 July 1916 in the Battle of Fromelles, where he still lies in an unmarked grave.

A record from an informant states he “saw Lennox shot dead in the German trench, which they reached but did not hold”.

Robert also had a brother, Harold, who was killed in action at Flers, France on 2 November 1916

“It’s so sad to think of two brothers, killed within 4 months of each other, who lay for eternity in a foreign land just 75kms from one another,” Luke said.

Of the nine members the Belmore Fire Brigade honoured on Sunday, the team were able to track down photos for seven of them.

“We searched everywhere to find the other two, and will continue to do so,” Luke said.

“And when the team does discover them, the photos will be inserted into the frames to join the rest of their mates from Belmont on the wall to be honoured forever.”

Last Updated: 23 April 2015