Deniliquin Uniting Church First World War Roll of Honor

Deniliquin Uniting Church First World War Roll of Honor

Deniliquin RSL sub-Branch was awarded a Community War Memorials Fund (CWMF) grant in 2022 to support the conservation of the Deniliquin Methodist Church First World War Roll of Honor.


War memorials are unique local treasures

This honour roll is a decorative cedar board, which is now over 100 years old, dating from 1918. While modest in size, the board exhibits excellent craftsmanship by its creator, Mr A J Whitelock Jnr. It features an eye-catching finial on the top, square columns and a shaped pediment and base. The original golden lettering was the work of Mr Frank Burchfield and detailed the names of 47 members of the church who enlisted for service in the First World War (1914–1918), including six who did not return home. Four names were added to the roll at a later date.

The honour roll was much admired when it was unveiled at the local Methodist Church on 4 August 1918, to coincide with the fourth anniversary of Britain’s entry to the Great War. It was moved to the Uniting Church building when the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches merged in 1977 to become the Uniting Church. A small metal plaque attached to the bottom of the board records this relocation.

One notable story from the roll is of Private John Allen Eames (service no. 749). Eames was born in Deniliquin and was living in Cooma when he enlisted for service on 10 February 1916, at just 19 years of age. Serving with the 4th Australian Machine Gun Battalion, Eames was awarded a Military Medal. The citation read:

“On the 5th April, 1918, near Laviele, this Signaller kept up telephonic communication between Company Headquarters and the forward guns, repairing wire all day under heavy shell fire. When one Section was forced to retire he laid a new line to them. He performed similar work on the 6th April, 1918.”

— Source: Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. 185, 27 November 1918.

John’s brother, Private Alfred Edward Eames (service no. 5067), is also commemorated on the roll. Both brothers returned to Australia after the war. 

Image 6 Successful story proohn Allen Eames Military Medal

Image: Official communication regarding the awarding of the Military Medal to John Allen Eames. Source: NAA: B2455, EAMES J A.


 Conservation is a communal effort

The project to rescue this damaged but much-loved honour roll began when Edward River Council approached Deniliquin RSL sub-Branch to conduct an audit of local war memorials, listed on the NSW War Memorials Register

President of the sub-Branch, Mr John Harris, recalls: 

“During the audit we met with Bruce Driver, Chairperson of the Deniliquin Uniting Church Congregation, and together we viewed the honour rolls that are on the walls of the Uniting Church. It was noted that the Methodist Honour Roll had deteriorated to the unfortunate state where the names … had become almost illegible. The Presbyterian Honour Roll that resides on the opposite wall in the Church has remained in pristine condition and we surmise in the time between the Methodist Church closing its doors, to when the churches were united in the current building, a well-meaning parishioner may have painted over the Methodist Honour Roll with clear varnish to help preserve it. The deterioration, steady at first, was becoming visually evident, as the gold leaf lettering had started to blister and lift, and the congregation was in the process of finding a way to be able to afford the cost to have the Honour Roll restored. After discussion it was decided that, with Church and Council support, the sub-Branch would take the lead in applying to the NSW Office for Veteran Affairs for a Community War Memorials Fund grant to assist with the cost of the restoration.”

Skilled contractors working together

The sub-Branch obtained a quote from experienced signwriter Nick Marandola from Melbourne to undertake the delicate work to recreate by hand all the faded lettering on the roll in 23 carat gold, including the dedication, names, and scrollwork. The timberwork portion of the project was quoted for by Ramon’s Fine Furniture of Thomastown, Victoria, and included removing the decayed varnish from the board, sanding, and applying an appropriate finish matched to the existing colouring.

Mr Harris explains the honour roll went through several stages, being treated with care and respect throughout:

“Nick's quote included tracing the lettering and flourishes originally on the board, then recording with photographs and referring to names provided by the Deniliquin Uniting Church. Bruce Grisold, from Ramon's Fine Furniture, then took over, stripping the Honour Roll back to the raw timber. Bruce then dismantled, repaired, sanded, and brought the board back as near as possible to its original state, before returning it to Nick to complete the work. This was a time intensive project that Nick undertook with great enthusiasm, to bring our history back to life. Nick is a skilled letterer who uses the brush to apply the lettering by hand … It is a beautifully presented Honour Board and we are grateful for the care and craftsmanship that has gone into the restoration.”


They will be remembered

The honour roll is now hanging reverently once more within the Deniliquin Uniting Church and will continue to honour those who served for many years to come. Mr Harris said,

“It is most proper to have the names of those who served once again readable, and it is so very important that those names stand proud and strong for all generations to read and note. A person's significance resides in the minds of those who remember and those named on the Methodist Honour Roll, unreservedly deserve our remembrance. We thank the Community War Memorials Fund for the opportunity to ensure that their names and their deeds will not be forgotten.”


The Community War Memorials Fund provides grants of up to $10,000 to support the repair, protection, and conservation of community war memorials across the state, including specialist heritage advice and physical work.

For more information and to apply, click here.


Project photos


CWMF Deniliquin Before Conservation
 Honour roll before conservation (left). Detail of decayed varnish surface (right). Photos courtesy of Deniliquin RSL sub-Branch.


CWMF Deniliquin Restored timber boardImage: Restored timber board, ready for lettering. Photo courtesy of Deniliquin RSL sub-Branch.


CWMF Deniliquin Painted lettering
 Preparing the roll for painted lettering (left). Lettering underway (right). Photos courtesy of Deniliquin RSL sub-Branch.


CWMF Deniliquin Completed honour rollImage: Completed roll hanging in the church. Photo courtesy of Deniliquin RSL sub-Branch.