Dave White with one of the Australian flags he uses to mark the graves of former service personnel. Photo / Sunbury Life.

Anzac heroes remembered with Australian flags

Dave White is often spotted at Sunbury cemetery where he volunteers his time maintaining forgotten graves. Every Anzac week he makes sure to place a flag on the graves of those who have served in the Australian armed forces.

It is often easy to identify the graves of armed service personnel, he says. But a little detective work is needed now and again to make sure no one is missed out. Help comes from members of Mr White’s popular local history Facebook group, which he started 11 years ago.

“I ask members to point out names I may have missed when there are no military headstone markings,” he says.

Those who saw active service as well as those who served in the armed services – but did not see action – get a flag.

“Each and every one of them was willing to sacrifice their lives, and are remembered with a small Australian flag,” says Mr White.

He places a flag for:

  • Those who served during time of war, and who later died from service related injuries or conditions
  • Service personnel who did not go to war
  • Those who were killed in action and rest overseas, but are remembered on headstones at the cemetery
  • Graves that have markings such as ‘Ist A. I.F.’ Depicting service with the Australian Imperial Forces of WW1
  • Others include, ‘Ex Commando’, ‘Light Horse Regiment’ etc

Mr White points out one headstone that features a soldier’s photo complete with slouch hat, others sport an Australian Army badge. Another grave has no headstone, but he knows it is the last resting place of a WW1 soldier.

“He gets a flag,” says Mr White.

Finally there are graves of men Mr White knew from the RSL, but have no indication of service.

He has been placing small Australian flags on graves for a couple of years now. For Remembrance Day he adds poppies (with flags).

This year he has added the Bulla cemetery at Cemetery Lane to his round.

Mr White, who was a soldier and is a member of the Sunbury RSL, believes this is the least he can do.

He will return after Thursday 25 April to check on the flags and make sure they are still standing proud.

Flags used by Mr White were donated by Sam Rae (Member for Hawke) as well as by a member of his Sunbury history group, who wishes to remain anonymous).

Sunbury services

There will be a 6am dawn service on Thursday 25 April, followed by a 10.30am service, at the Sunbury War Memorial Cenotaph, hosted by the Sunbury RSL Sub Branch.

A march from the Sunbury Post Office on Evans St to the Sunbury War Memorial Cenotaph will begin at 9.50am and close with a 10.30am service. The ceremony will be broadcast online by Sunbury Radio and on 99.3fm.

Please visit the Sunbury RSL Sub Branch website for the most up-to-date details of their local services.

Dave White with one of the Australian flags he uses to mark the graves of former service personnel. Photo / Sunbury Life.
Dave White places an Australian flag to mark the grave of serviceman. Photo / Sunbury Life.