There are 286 sentinels commemorated in the Kingston Avenue of Honour, each with their own poignant stories.
The Avenue, planted in the former Shire of Creswick by community members 100 years ago, commemorates men and women from the region who served their country during World War I.
One particularly interesting story is that of Arthur Merritt, who is commemorated in the Avenue next to his brother, Jesse.
Evelyn Wright, of the Creswick Research Centre, has been researching the Merritt brothers and their story. She lives in a house situated on Arthur’s former property.
It has been difficult to track down any documents relating to Arthur’s time in the war, but it was not until Leah Armstrong, a member of the Friends of the Avenue, visited the Ballarat Aviation Museum that a document was finally located.
Ms Armstrong said she found the document by chance and it has helped to put his whole story together. Ms Wright described this as “absolute serendipity”.
Arthur was the youngest son of Jesse and Marianne Merritt. He grew up in Broomfield and enlisted in the war in September 1914 at the age of 24.
“As far as I can work out, he was an original ANZAC who was wounded at Gallipolli,” Ms Wright said. “He was hospitalised with a gun shot wound to his stomach for about six months. After a recovery period, he went back to the front line and served for the rest of the war.”
She said Arthur returned to Australia in early 1919 when he acquired what is believed to have been a 152 acre soldier settler’s block alongside what is now the Kingston Avenue of Honour. He married in 1920 and had two daughters. Ms Wright now lives on 142 acres of his land.
“All that’s left of their house is the doorstep. Everything else is gone, but apparently it had a good barn and good stables.”
She said she has learned a lot through her research, but most poignant; the fact there were so many soldier settlers in the region. A celebration of the Centenary of the Armistice will take place in the Avenue on November 11.