AT memorials and cenotaphs across Wellington Shire, people paused to pay respects to fallen Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women on Wednesday.
As dew frosted the cenotaph, hundreds huddled in the crisp morning air to reflect on the 103rd anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign landing at the dawn service at Sale cenotaph.
As candles glowed on the memorial, Sale RSL president Marty Tanzer read a letter from a soldier to his fiancée, sent before he landed on the beach.
“The troops on that morning were woken in the pre-dawn darkness to get ready for the landing, and they would have made final preparations, trying to eat something, and maybe having a cigarette as they waited for the call-up,” he said.
“We cannot know the many thoughts, reflections, and fleeting fears of each soldier on that morning, but we do know the thoughts of one man via a letter.
“His name was Private Thomas Anderson Whyte, of the 10th Battalion.
“In the pre-dawn stillness of the 25th of April, it is not difficult to imagine 28-year-old Private Whyte peering into the darkness from his transport ship, straight into the cliff side and pits of the Gallipoli Peninsula, visible only as silhouettes in the fading moonlight.”
He also read out the names of the soldiers from Sale and surrounds who died in the campaign, as the names of the locals who have fallen while serving were projected onto a screen behind him.
“After so many years, with a constantly changing world, let me ask you to ponder three simple questions,” he said.
“What ought we remember? Why is remembering still so important? How might we remember?”
Crowds then dispersed — either to the gunfire breakfast at Sale RSL, or the war graves service at Sale Cemetery.
Sun peeked through the clouds at Sale’s mid-morning service, led by master of ceremonies, Police Superintendent (ret) Geoff Newby APM.
A poem was read by Mr Tanzer, and guest speaker, Group Captain Dennis Tan, senior ADF officer at RAAF Base, East Sale, spoke of sacrifice to the crowd.
Various school and community groups paid their respects by laying wreaths, and widows remembered their lost beloved by dedicating crosses.
Eyes turned to the sky as the RAAF’s new PC-21s flew overhead.
Maffra Secondary school captain and cadet under officer at 409 Squadron Michael Airey was presented the Jack McMillan Award, and read the Anzac Requiem, while St Mary’s Primary School year six student Cara Heskey was awarded the John Printz OAM Junior Youth Leadership Award.
Cadets and RAAF personnel stood to attention, while The Last Post and Reveille were played by bugler Tom Cousin, and the service concluded with a rousing Waltzing Matilda from Sale City Band.
Similarly, Maffra’s Anzac Day began with a moving dawn service, followed by breakfast at Maffra RSL.
Maffra’s mid-morning ceremony was short but respectful, with a march along Johnson St to the beat of the Maffra Municipal Band.
Hundreds gathered around the town’s cenotaph, and witnessed the laying of wreaths and poppies, and were treated to an impressive flyover by two King Air 350s.
The RSL continued with an additional service inside the town’s memorial hall, where the John Sargent Scholarship, presented by secretary Kit Sargent, was awarded to Maffra Secondary College’s Mikayla Underwood.
Sam Crothers read the Anzac Requiem.
The Last Post and Reveille were played by Maffra Municipal Band bugler Jim Dwyer.
In Stratford, about 100 people huddled in family, military personnel and community groups to participate in a moving Anzac Day service in the town’s memorial park.
The dawn service began at 5.50am, followed by breakfast at the RSL rooms in Tyers St.
At 9am, the Anzac march was led by Sale City Band from Tyers St to the memorial park, followed by a mid-morning wreath laying ceremony and speeches.
RSL president Dennis Carstairs led the service, and secretary Michael Hutchison spoke about the dedication and sacrifices of service men and women, both on the front line and behind the scenes.
Briagolong, Golden Beach, Gormandale, Heyfield, Loch Sport, Meerlieu, Port Albert, Rosedale, Seaspray and Yarram services were also well attended.