A polished look for First World War honour board at Sydney Technical High School

History project: Sydney Tech students Dylan, Eric, Muhammed, Han, Bilal and Leslie with their school's honour board, which is in the process of being restored. Picture: John Veage
History project: Sydney Tech students Dylan, Eric, Muhammed, Han, Bilal and Leslie with their school's honour board, which is in the process of being restored. Picture: John Veage

A significant yet somewhat forgotten slice of history that hangs on the walls of Sydney Technical High School is getting a new, polished look.

The school’s World War I honour board, which includes the names of soldiers who fought or died for their country, is looking a little worse for wear.

Before it made its permanent home at the all boy’s Bexley school, the varnished wood memorial was stationed at Ultimo. 

It was made by ex-woodwork teachers Arthur Humphreys and Arthur Waterer.

The plan to restore it was originally driven by one of the ‘old boys’ of the school, and history teacher and head of department, Robert Devlin, joined the project.

Former student Ken Stevenson (class of 1962) of Secretary Teachers RSL Sub Branch has provided research for the school to carry out its assignment.

Part of the project includes placing the 152 printed names onto a virtual war memorial online.

Students who study elective history have been hands-on in helping bring it back to life.

“It’s pretty much fallen to pieces because it’s 100 years old,” Mr Devlin said.

“The gold lettering is fading, the board is starting to crack.

“There have also been at least 35 former students who have been omitted from the board – there’s no recognition of some who died for their country. At least 11 of those who fought were teachers of the school. The death in combat was not accurately recorded for another 31 former students.”

Mr Devlin says it also deserves a more prominent position in the school.

“It used to be at the front entrance of the school but it has been built-up over time, and now it’s beside the gym in the main entrance to the administrative building, where not many people see it,” he said.

“We want to find a better place for it – perhaps the front office because the school has lots to be proud of.”

The new-look honour board will be unveiled on November 23.

“We’re looking to recreate the 1917 unveiling,” Mr Devlin said.

“At that time the education director was there, so we want to come full circle and invite the Education Minister and the Governor-General.

“It is important that this occasion be respectfully commemorated. It is essential that the school preserves its history so that current and future generations can appreciate the sacrifices made to achieve the freedoms and liberties enjoyed by our nation.

“We would love to invite families of former students who fought in World War I and who are on the honour board to this assembly.”

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