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A sculpture of a solider kneeling near a small field of poppies will be the centrepiece of a memorial in Nowa Nowa that honours the memory of a local soldier who died during the Second World War.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who is also Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, has announced $3600 to go towards construction of the memorial.

“The sculpture will be part of a memorial in Hall Road that also commemorates the service and sacrifice of servicemen and servicewomen from Nowa Nowa and the surrounding districts,” Mr Chester said.

“More than 70 years ago, the Nowa Nowa community planted a Western Australian flowering gum tree in memory of Henry Ernest Whitbourne, known as Ernie. Ernie was one of 20 residents from Nowa Nowa who enlisted to serve during the Second World War. He drowned near Crete in May 1941 and was the only local not to return home.”

Maree Geddes of the Friends of the Nowa Nowa Community Gardens said the flowering gum had died and its stump now formed part of a new memorial.

“Sculptor John Brady has created the centrepieces of the new memorial, which includes a kneeling World War Two soldier with his firearm and slouch hat standing nearby, carved from Cyprus pine.  This is our new memorial to Ernie,” Mrs Geddes said.

“The sculpture is a feature of the Hilda Rule Plantation. In front of it, we will plant a garden bed of poppies. Next year, we intend to plant roses behind the cenotaph and canon and install a replica of the missing RSL gate that was built by our returned servicemen in the 1950s.

“This is a wonderful way to commemorate Nowa Nowa’s wartime history.”

Nowa Nowa is one of 55 communities around Australia to share more than $130,000 under the Saluting Their Service grant program.

Mr Chester said the program provided funding support to projects that commemorated Australia’s wartime history and reflected our gratitude to all those who have served our country.

“The people of Nowa Nowa involved in this project should be congratulated for their thoughtful approach to preserving Ernie’s memory and knowledge of his story,” Mr Chester said.

The Community Commemorative Grants category of the Saluting Their Service program provides up to $4000 for each project. Applications can now be made through the Community Grants Hub. For information, call 1800 020 283 or email support@communitygrants.gov.au

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