Bridge Street Presbyterian Church Honour Boards
An honour board listing 38 names of members of the Bridge Street Presbyterian Church was unveiled at the church by Rev W Borland, acting Chaplain-General on Sunday 19 December 1915. Rev Borland was assisted by Rev J Dunlop Landels, minister of the Bridge Street church and a Chaplain-General of the Presbyterian Church. The special service was attended by members of the Expeditionary Forces, Port Melbourne Infantry Cadets’ Bugle Band, troops of boy scouts and many members of the congregation.
The scouts under scoutmaster Peterson and the bugle band, under the control of area officer, Lieutenant Groves, and Captain Le Grew marched along Bay and Bridge Streets to the church led by the scouts carrying two Union Jacks.
Rev Borland spoke of the 38 men from the church who had gone to serve King and Country saying that they had no only responded to the call of the nation by to the call of Christ, our Saviour. He then pulled the cord on the Union Jack to reveal the board as the organ played “Onward Christian Soldiers” and led by the choir, the congregation took up the well-known hymn.
As the text for his sermon, Rev Borland took Second Samuel, XXIII, 17.
“And he said, be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this; is not this the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their live? Therefore he would not drink it.”
David had refused to drink the water brought to him by three valiant men and the Reverend compared this action to how the congregation thought about the 38 men from the church who had gone to war. He asked “Are we going to regard them as fools who have gone to throw their lives away? Are we simply going to stay and take advantage of the sacrifice the 38 of our best men have made? Is that to be our spirit?”
The Standard of 8 January 1916 listed the 38 names on the original honour board adding that more names would be added as more young men from the church joined the military forces.
That board (above) now lists 46 names and on Sunday 15 December 1917 a second Honour Board was unveiled at the church. The report in the Standard says there are 24 names on the second board and then lists 27 names and adds that there are 77 names on both boards. None of these numbers add up to 77 so it is unclear who these 77 men were or if the number was indeed 77.
What is known is that Colonel Cookston, who had been at the French war front for over two years, delivered a stirring address. The board was made by Mr Earl and the lettering was done by Mr Pentland, the brother of Lieutenant W C Pentland who was wounded at the Somme. It was also noted that 13 church men had made the supreme sacrifice.
At a reunion of solders and sailors, their relatives and friends at the School Hall at the church on Thursday evening, 20 November 1919, the Rev J Dunlop Landels called the assembly to rise and stand in profound silence for several minutes as a mark of respect to the memory of the fallen heroes. Rev Landels then explained that twenty stars had been put alongside the names of the twenty men who would not return, their young lives given to save us.
Bugler E Martin then sounded the “Last Post”.
Today, both boards combined list 92 names and there are twenty stars marking those who did not return.
Unfortunately the Bridge Street Presbyterian Church Honour Boards no longer hang in what is now the Port Melbourne Uniting Church at the corner of Bridge and Notts Streets but they are held is storage by the church.
The Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society would like to thank the Rev Hoon You for his assistance in locating the honour boards and allowing the Society to photograph them for this project.
1915 ‘HONOR ROLL UNVEILED.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 24 December, p. 4. , viewed 17 Feb 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91166812
1916 ‘Presbyterian Church.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 8 January, p. 3. , viewed 17 Feb 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91167143
1917 ‘PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 22 December, p. 2. , viewed 17 Feb 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88369407
1919 ‘”THE UNRETURNING BRAVE.”‘, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 29 November, p. 3. , viewed 17 Feb 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165261686