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New board to honour the missing

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Cite as: April 2015 89 (4) LIJ, p.28

A new WWI memorial will include more names of lawyers who served.

A new World War I memorial board will be installed in the Supreme Court following the discovery of 87 lawyer-servicemen’s names missing from the existing honour roll. The new memorial will be dedicated in July 2017, the centenary of the unveiling of the 159 name-board erected by the LIV at the court entrance.

The discovery takes to 247 the number of lawyers who enlisted for active service from the 800-member Victorian legal profession. Twenty-three are believed to have died.

For Supreme Court archives and records manager Joanne Boyd the timing of the first unveiling was her “smoking gun” – confirmation that not all who served were included. “When we looked at it we realised that that could not possibly be all. The war was not even over,” she said.

Ms Boyd, custodian of the register of articled clerks, discovered the missing names lay in its pages. War service – permitted in lieu of serving as an articled clerk – was recorded beside the names of those who enlisted. “These were people in their 20s who had been articled clerks and then went on to have illustrious careers,” she said. They included Australian High Court Justice Sir Wilfred Fullagar, Bill Slater, founder of Slater and Gordon, and Supreme Court librarian Eustace Coghill. The Court library holds Coghill’s diary.

Ms Boyd and her team, Nicole Lithgow and Wendy Atkins, also discovered former Chief Justice Sir Edmund Herring’s name was missing – he enlisted in the British Army while studying at Oxford University. “The plan is that we will complete the research and present that to the Victorian Bar and the LIV and we will end up having a Centenary memorial board dedicated in 2017, in addition to the existing one,” Ms Boyd said.

“It is about giving recognition to those people,” she said, noting some returned severely damaged, suffering after-effects of gassing and mental health problems.

The Supreme Court library is displaying a 100-year-old copy of The Argus newspaper changing the page daily to tell the story of the war. This month it will host a display on the legal profession and World War I. Items displayed will include the register of articled clerks and Coghill’s diary.

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