Codford St Mary, in the UK, is the final resting place of 97 Anzacs – 66 New Zealanders and 31 Australians – from the Great War. Each year locals and visitors gather in the cemetery at Dawn to commemorate Anzac Day.
This year the Australian Armed Forces were represented by Major Mark Stone. The Honour Roll was read as the morning light filled the cemetery. Followed by a young lone piper playing a lament as wreaths were laid.
On the chalk downs nearby to Codford St Mary can be seen the Lamb Down Badge – a Rising Sun Badge carved by into the hillside in 1916-1918 by Australian troops stationed at Codford during World War 1.
Local history group records:
Australian and New Zealand troops began arriving in Codford, July 1916. There were ANZAC hospitals and rehabilitation and training centres in the area.
The badge was carved into the hillside in 1916-18 by Australian troops. The then Australian Brigade Commander of the nearby Australian garrison would gaze out from the reading room at Stockton House and came up with the idea of leaving his mark on the English countryside.
His decision led to defaulters carving out a copy of the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF’s) “Rising Sun” badge in the chalk on the hillside. The 13th Training Battalion, (AIF), started the initial carving and clearing work on the badge. It was then embedded with green, brown and clear beer bottles to make it shine bronze, like the badge worn on the Australian uniform.
Maintaining the badge became the focus of punishment parades and the spur on which it is carved became known as “Misery Hill” by Australian troops.
The badge remained untouched until WWII when it was covered over to prevent enemy aircraft using it as a navigation aid. After the war it was uncovered, however most of the glass had either washed away or sunk into the chalk below.
The outline of the Lamb Down Badge remains to this day and due to the nature of its construction material, chalk, it requires annual maintenance. Being some 175ft wide by 150ft tall this is a daunting task.
The work essentially involves chipping back the grass, re-creating the chalk outline, cleaning out dirty chalk and replacing it.