Photo: STEPHEN REYNOLDS
DESPITE THE dwindling ranks of veterans, numbers continue to swell to commemorate Anzac Day.
On April 25 around a dozen former serving soldiers, sailors and airmen gathered at Whipstick Gully for the annual march to the Warrandyte RSL.
They were joined in their journey by an over 100-strong contingent of family, friends and community members. Representatives of all levels of government joined the march, led by a WWII Indian motorcycle together with lone piper, Casey McSwain.
Police, CFA, the Warrandyte Football Club as well as Scouts and Girl Guides showed their respect for servicemen and women by joining the march along Yarra Street, an effort that was appreciated by WWII veteran Don Haggarty.
“It is so good to see the young people here,” he told the Diary.
His son, Chris Haggarty, a volunteer at South Warrandyte CFA agreed, noting that it is important for the young people to “help keep the tradition alive”.
State Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said that he commends the RSL for allowing “the evolution of the march to include family members who are here to support the veterans”.
The children who participated in the parade had been learning the history of Anzac Day and the Gallipoli campaign in the lead-up to the commemoration.
“We are here to remember the Anzacs from Gallipoli,” one young Guide said, proudly displaying her knowledge that Anzac stood for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
As the marchers stepped off they were encouraged along the route by an estimated 200 people lining Yarra Street, and met by a further 800 people to participate in the commemorative service.
The Catafalque Guard was provided by Melbourne University Regiment and as they took their positions around the cenotaph, RSL president David Ryan commenced the service. Mr Ryan noted that it was the 103rd anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli “where hundreds died and thousands were injured”.
The gathering also commemorated 100 years since the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front “where Australian and British troops drove the Germans out of the town in a daring night attack at a cost of 1500 casualties”.
The Bellbird singers provided musical leadership for the hymns and anthems sung during the service, and Barry Carozzi performed the stirring Eric Bogle ballad, In Flanders Field. A very moving address was read by John Byrne.
Mr Byrne concluded his address with the poem A Soldier Died Today.
David Ryan said he was delighted to see the large crowd turn out to commemorate “the sacrifice that men, women and families at home and abroad have endured from pre WWI to today with the War on Terror, United Nations and humanitarian conflicts”.
Mr Ryan told the Diary, he was delighted with the growing turnout, “I am just relieved that we didn’t have the problems with vandalism we had last year”.
Page 18-19 of the May Warrandyte Diary has a full colour photo spread of the day and a transcription of Mr Bryne’s speech