This year on Anzac Day, the marching, the bagpipes, the veterans, the crowds and the choir were notably absent from the Warrandyte RSL.
However, at 10:45am on Saturday, April 25, RSL President David Ryan, begun his Anzac Day service introduction, and dozens of homes in and around Warrandyte heard his words, as the 2020 Warrandyte Anzac Day service was livestreamed for the first time in its history, in a collaboration between Warrandyte RSL, the Warrandyte Diary and 42K Media.
Warrandyte RSL has faced a number of challenges surrounding its Anzac Day service in the past few years.
In 2017, the memorial was vandalised the day before the service, with anti-anarchist graffiti.
In 2018, the RSL balcony, which is usually reserved for wheelchair bound veterans during the service, was condemned and had to be closed for repairs.
On both occasions, the branch, and members of the community pooled their resources and came together to ensure these challenges were merely bumps on the road to “another respectful service”.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions we have all be living with since mid-March threatened Warrandyte’s traditional service.
It became apparent very quickly that the traditional mass march from Whipstick Gully, followed by moving service complete with choir, bugler, bagpipes and sandwiches at the RSL after, would not be possible.
All over the state, country and world, public Anzac Day services were cancelled.
Officially, there was still reduced services at the Shrine of Remembrance and the Australian War Memorial, while Australians everywhere were asked to join in with the Dawn Service and Stand To in their driveways.
In Warrandyte, families stood with lit candles by the roadside, some even played the Last Post on trumpets and bagpipes.
Warrandyte RSL had planned on holding a small, private service at the Warrandyte War Memorial on Saturday 25th, but a chance meeting between Warrandyte branch President David “Rhino” Ryan and Sandra Miller, a former Army Reservist and cofounder of local video production company 42K Media, set in motion an idea which would allow our local community to participate in a local Anzac Day service from their living-rooms.
Using a series of 4G mobile internet routers, 42K Media was able to harness enough bandwidth to successfully stream the full 30-minute service.
On the Friday before Anzac Day, Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith laid a wreath and paid his respects at the cenotaph, and Mullum Mullum Ward Councillor, Andrew Conlon, inadvertently became part of the ceremony when he turned up to lay Manningham Council’s wreath on Saturday morning.
As well as readings by the RSL President, and Community Church Pastor Andrew Fisher, traditional hymns, songs and the Last Post were played from recordings.
The speeches, songs, prayers, wreath-laying and the two minute’s silence were all recorded on camera and between the livestream and the post-produced video, the service has been watched thousands of times.
With services being cancelled everywhere, this Anzac Day was always going to be different, but thanks to some local inspiration, a dose of technological ingenuity, and a pinch of luck (especially with the internet), Warrandyte was able to mark Anzac Day 2020 in its own special way.
You can watch the service on the Warrandyte Diary’s Facebook page, or YouTube Channel: bit.ly/DiaryTV
They were all answering the Call of the Dardanelles,
Little did they know, they were entering a living hell.
The brave ANZAC’s, marched up the hill,
With their aim, freedom and to kill.
Fighting for our freedom,
With their families at home, who really, really need them.
At Gallipoli, 10,000 ANZACs lost their lives,
While a small amount of them, only just survive.
As the Reveille played, get them up in the morn’,
As they thought about what would happen after dawn.
They slowly chewed on the Anzac biscuits that their families had made,
As they hid in the trenches, extremely afraid.
For the families whose daddies, brothers and husbands who went to war,
And for those who didn’t come back, their heart is so sore.
The Poppy’s laid over the soldiers, who were laid to rest,
May all of the ANZACS, be well and truly blessed.
At the Anzac Day parade, the soldiers march, strong and tall,
These are the people, who answered the call.
Liam, Our Lady of the Pines Primary School