St Marys Churchyard
During the First World War Harefield Park was offered by the owners, Charles and Letitia Billyard Leake, as a hospital to the Australian Ministry of Defence.
For the duration of the war casualties from the Australian Forces from Gallipoli and the Western Front were treated at the newly created Australian Auxiliary No 1 Hospital. Many of the wounded died; 111 men and one nursing sister were buried with military honours in an extension of the churchyard. The village school lent its Union Flag for these occasions.
After the war the flag was presented to the last C.O. of the Australian Hospital and was laid up in Adelaide High School. The Australian Children’s Patriotic League presented in return a new Union Flag and an Australian Flag to Harefield School. The Australian flag hangs in the Breakspear Chapel, which was rededicated as the Australian Chapel in 1950.
In 1921 began the annual ceremony in which the children from the school put flowers on every grave in the cemetery. This is followed by a Commemorative Service to which we always invite representatives from the Australian High Commission.
Anzac Day, 25th April, has become a most significant annual event in the Harefield calendar. Few visitors can fail to be moved by the fact that so many of the dead died so young, and so far from home, their graves unvisited by their families until the age of easier and affordable travel.