The 1938 Kyeema airline disaster was commemorated on 27 October at the crash site on Mount Dandenong. Around 200 people attended the memorial service, including many related to the 14 passengers and four crew killed on that day.
With this year being 100 years since the end of World War I, Member for Casey, Tony Smith, spoke about the four veterans of that conflict killed in the Kyeema crash.
“It is so sad that these four men, all of whom were wounded in the war, somehow survived those horrors but lost their lives in these peaceful hills.”
“One of these was Thomas Hardy, a leading wine industry figure and father of champion yachtsman, Sir James Hardy.”
“He enlisted in 1915 and by February 1916 he was in Egypt, receiving an officer commission six months later. He was wounded in 1917 but was able to re-join his unit and returned home to the family wine business at the end of the war,” Mr. Smith said.
Among the relatives attending were Kate Redman, great niece of passenger Lancelot Shirley and David Hawker, cousin of Charles Hawker, a leading politician of the day.
Kate Redman spoke of her great uncle, who was returning from a Royal Commission hearing in Perth. “He was on the brink of a brilliant career in law,” she said.
“He had graduated from the University of Sydney Law School with first-class honours and had a position with leading firm, Allen, Allen and Hemsley. I am here speaking at the service not just for my family, but for all the families that can’t be here today.”
David Hawker, former MHR, spoke about his cousin, Charles Hawker, who was a sitting member of federal parliament when killed.
“Charles was a student at Cambridge in 1915 when he enlisted and in Egypt lost an eye that same year. He re-enlisted in 1917 and was wounded so badly that he was paralysed from the waist down,” he said.
“He somehow taught himself to walk again and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1929. He resigned from the cabinet and crossed the floor on a motion to reduce MPs salaries, which lead him to be described as a man the whole nation could trust.”
“There are many people from the time who say he was destined to become Prime Minister,” Mr. Hawker said.
In a moving part of the ceremony, the names of each of the deceased were read out, followed by the ringing of a bell and then wreath-laying by dignitaries and relations of those killed.
It is 80 years since the Kyeema ploughed into a fog-shrouded Mount Dandenong but the respect and participation shown at this memorial indicate the memories of those lost on that day will live on for many years to come.