The Honour Avenues Group (HAG) has antecedents from 1919 and was formed as an independent Sub-Committee of the RSL West Perth Sub-Branch when that Sub-Branch was formed in 1922 and the RSL accepted responsibility for the maintenance and preservation of the Honour Avenues plaques. The West Perth Sub-Branch was later renamed the Public Service / Press Sub-Branch and merged into the Highgate Sub-Branch in 1976.
The work of the HAG is to place, maintain and refurbish the individual memorial plaques on the Honour Avenues in Kings Park that commemorate those men and women who joined the services in Western Australia but were killed or died overseas.
The location of Kings Park for the plaques was likely chosen on account of its central location for the Perth metropolitan area, that the precedent for establishing memorials for the fallen in the Park had already been set with the unveiling of the War in South Africa Memorial in 1901, and with initiative from within the Kings Park Board itself. The Hon. Arthur Lovekin MLC (1859-1931), an original member and second president of the Board, is credited with the creation of the Honour Avenues.
The historical context for the establishment of the Honour Avenues plaques was likely the result of the combination of factors as follows:
- The concept of an Honour Avenue started in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1917 with the planting of an avenue of trees in memory of the men from the district who had fallen.
- In consideration of the massive unprecedented casualty numbers and with the establishment of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the decision was taken that the British Empire casualties were to be reinterred into large consolidated cemeteries in the countries in which they fell or otherwise succumbed to death. As the result, most Australian casualties were interred in France, Belgium, on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey and with lesser numbers in Egypt and Britain. Also, the list of those fallen with no known grave was established and they too were also memorialised in the countries in which they fell. Therefore there were to be no official State or local monuments or other memorials to be constructed in Australia other that the national War Memorial to be built in Canberra (that at the time was yet to become the national capital).
- The age of mass travel was yet to occur which meant that it was largely impractical and massively unaffordable for most families to visit the graves or last known locations of their loved ones who had fallen while overseas.
- It was by no means certain in the early 1920s that a State War Memorial would be constructed on which a Roll of those fallen would be shown. The 10th Light Horse Regiment Memorial was unveiled on 13 March 1921 and is the only World War I unit memorial to show a Roll of Honour.
- In the early 1920s, most localities throughout the State, including many suburbs of Perth, began to construct local War Memorials inscribed with local Rolls of Honour. For reasons not readily available, a memorial or memorials for Perth and the inner suburbs of East, North and West Perth appear not to have been contemplated. This apparent lack of action occurred despite each of these locations having significant local Rolls of Honour – Perth (over 1,250 fallen), East Perth (50), North Perth (45), West Perth (39) – that are shown as the Place of Association in the on-line individual record from the Australian War Memorial World War I Roll of Honour. It is therefore likely that at least some of the grieving families from the inner Perth area used the Honour Avenues plaques as the only memorials to their fallen loved ones until the State Memorial was unveiled.
Therefore from 1919 and into the 1920s, it fell to the families and friends of the fallen to initiate and fund individual memorial plaques to be placed on the Honour Avenues, a practice that continues even though the WA State War Memorial has shown a Roll of Honour for the State since 1929 and includes the fallen from all conflicts subsequent to the Great War.