Anzac pride

AFTER the pandemic prevented numbers at last year’s Anzac Day services across Wellington Shire, people were anxious to attend local services and pay their respects to Australia’s servicemen and women, past and present.

While COVID-19 still prevented a dawn service in Sale this year, numbers at the Anzac Day march and service more than made up for any shortfall.

This year marks the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force, giving Anzac Day even more meaning in Sale – with many people having some sort of an association with RAAF Base, East Sale, or simply loving living in the home of the Roulettes.

After a quiet morning service at Sale War Graves Cemetery, flag-wavers were five-people deep in some parts of Raymond St, lining both sides of the road for the town’s Anzac Day march.

Sale City Band led the parade, followed by impressive lines of marching by RAAF Base, East Sale personnel, which stretched for most of the street.

There was a solemn applause for veterans and their families as they walked past, and many in the crowd shed a tear during Sale RSL Pipe Band’s emotional rendition of Scotland the Brave.

The march made its way to the town’s cenotaph, and the crowd spilled from Sale Memorial Hall’s courtyard along Macalister St.

Group Captain Nigel Ward, Senior ADF Officer at RAAF Base, East Sale, used his address to speak about the centenary and the contribution of the RAAF “then, now and always”, before wreaths were laid by government and veteran groups,

The Last Post and Reveille played and a minute’s silence paid.

Anzac Day in Stratford was a respectful but subdued affair, with a brief and shortened march for select participants, a respectful service and a small but larger-than-expected crowd of close to 200.

It went smoothly, people came and went quietly, but families and community groups were still able to pay respects at the cenotaph.

Large crowds reportedly attended Maffra’s dawn service and march, as well as the Anzac Day service held at Maffra Cenotaph.

Maffra Municipal Band flanked the march, Maffra RSL president Kevin Christensen addressed the crowd, member Sam Crothers read The Requiem, and Wellington Shire councillor Carolyn Crossley and youth councillor Amy Gotts laid wreaths.

A commemorative service was held at Golden Beach, hosted by Paradise Golden Beach Seniors, which was attended by more than 70 residents.

They joined CFA volunteers and RAAF staff from No 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron and Joint Health Command.

Squadron Leader Ze Goon from Joint Health Command, and David Jackson, former-RAAF air traffic control, were guest speakers.

Frank Johns played The Last Post and The Rouse on trombone, and wreaths were laid by RAAF, personnel CFA volunteers, Paradise Golden Beach Seniors, Golden Beach Men’s Shed and the community.

After a 12 month hiatus, the Meerlieu community found it particularly special to be able to hold an Anzac Day dawn service again this year.

The solemn service was opened by Meerlieu Hall president James Blandford, followed by a moving poem by Ellie Caldwell called the The Rose of No Man’s Land.

Jeanette Blandford gave the commemorative address – an informative insight into the role of Australian nurses in World War 1, nearly outdone by a lone kookaburra laughing in the pine trees as the sun rose.

The Ode was read by Craig Bush, followed by a haunting rendition of The Last Post and The Rouse by Emily Jackson on the trumpet, while Claudia and Chris Blandford raised the flag.

Wellington Shire councillor Jill Wood concluded the ceremony.

The crowd then moved to the town’s Lone Pine Memorial, where the names of the local men who lost their lives were read out by Dave Caldwell and wreaths were laid, including a wreath on behalf of the community laid by Jules and Carol Blandford.

Beginning at 4am, a crew of volunteers helped Lee Frew and Anthony Simpson cook a well-received gunfire breakfast for the 120-strong crowd.

A carrot cake competition was judged by local professional pastry chef Alf Enzinger and qualified local plumber (and bakery connoisseur) Simon Hunter.

Sue Vaughan placed first, followed closely by Zoe Blandford and Will Howden in second, and Carol Blandford in third, who all scored themselves some donated prizes from local businesses.