Living reminder of the ultimate sacrifice

Mt Hawthorn student Elizaveta Fedotova contemplates Horry’s Tree.

TODAY’S tale from Vincent’s local history librarians is about Horry’s Tree, planted as thousands of Aussies and New Zealanders left WA for the battlefields of Europe, and the young girl it inspired who’s off on the learning experience of a lifetime.

MT HAWTHORN student Elizaveta Fedotova is one of 10 student ambassadors selected to take part in the Premier’s Anzac Student Tour in 2023.  

The Bob Hawke College student has just departed for a historical study tour of Sydney and New Zealand with her co-ambassadors to explore key sites related to World War II.   

Since 2004, more than 200 WA students have been selected for tours to commemorate the service and sacrifice of service men and women. 

Students are selected from written submissions and interviews where they demonstrate their interest in Australian history and an understanding of the Anzac legacy.

For her application, Elizaveta was inspired by the local story of Horry’s Tree, a large Moreton Bay Fig tree which stands near the Mitchell Freeway entrance off Vincent Street.   


The tree was planted in 1915 by former Leederville resident and dairyman Horace ‘Horry’ Thompson. 

Mr Thompson planted the tree beside his home in Melrose Street as an arboreal promise to his family that he would return from the war. 

He never saw the sapling become a tree as he was killed on a French battlefield in 1917.

He left behind his three children and widow Lily, who died shortly after in 1921. 

The Thompson children were raised by their grandmother and helped by neighbours.  

Over the years, neighbour Dorothy Jenkins stood vigil over Horry’s Tree, staving off attempts to cut it down during construction of the Mitchell Freeway.  

Mr Thompson’s grandniece Fay Maughan compiled a history piece about the tree in 2014: 

“Dorothy was the keeper of that tree…Dorothy used to go down there every day and make sure they didn’t bulldoze it,” she wrote. 

Dorothy died in 2014 aged 94, just before Ms Maughan’s history was completed and received a City of Vincent local history award. 

The tree was heritage listed by Vincent in 2016 in recognition of its contribution to the community’s sense of place. 

It sits beside the freeway and has inspired a new generation of locals like Elizaveta to understand and appreciate the impacts of war on families and communities.

“The story of Horry’s Tree offers an opportunity to reflect not only on the sacrifices of the Anzac heroes, but also on the generosity, compassion and a true patriotic spirit of all Australians who helped during the Great War on the home front,” she said.

“Horry died defending our country, but his tree even today serves as a reminder of the terrible cost of war and, at the same time, of the love and compassion that existed between Australian families and our communities.  

Not forgotten

“I hope that none of these people are ever forgotten, and that Horry’s Tree lives on to tell the story for many generations to come.”

Ms Maughan’s story of Horry’s Tree is available at the Vincent Local History Centre.  

To commemorate Anzac Day, local history legend Anne Chapple OAM and filmmaker and writer Dawn Farnham will be holding a behind-the-scenes talk on the making of 

a documentary film about the women of Anzac Cottage at the centre. 

Budding filmmakers and local history enthusiasts are welcome to attend the talk on 26 April, 10am. To book a place, email or call 9273 6090.  

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