One hundred years on from the Armistice - the end of the First World War in 1918 - our past servicemen and servicewomen would be happy how they are being remembered on Anzac Day, as explained by Corowa RSL Sub-Branch Vice President Daryl Martin.
“I believe the crowd today is the biggest ever here, even bigger than 2014 with the centenary of the start of the war,” he told the Free Press.
Mr Martin and key Wahgunyah organiser Vilnis Mitrevics estimated the crowd at 2018’s 11.00am Corowa Monument commemoration to be about 1500 people from Corowa and district, Wahgunyah and with visitors.
Corowa RSL Sub-Branch President Martin Magill was an apology, on special duty in Canberra. His deputy marvelled at the big crowd and expressed the sub-branch’s happiness.
“We are very pleased with the turn-out,” Mr Martin said. “The crowd at the Dawn Service was the biggest I’ve seen except for 2014 but the 11.00am service was definitely the biggest I’ve ever seen.” RSL Welfare Officer Lesley Rinehart said both crowds last Wednesday were the biggest she’s ever seen in Corowa.
Mr Martin thanked all the students from Corowa and district schools for their marching and laying of wreaths. He especially praised the performances of co-captains, John Schnelle as Master of Ceremonies and Hayley Cordwell who delivered the Prologue, as well as Year 11 students Montanna Hargreaves and Laure O’Shannassy who conveyed the Anzac Day Oration.
“It was also wonderful having our special guest speaker, Wendy Ross, particularly as she is a local girl,” the vice president said.
In reciting the Prologue, Hayley said the big crowd was “here to remember the sacrifice of our servicemen and women”.
Included in her Prologue was the following: “They were the men and women who were willing to believe in something greater than themselves. It was their willingness to act as such and their actions in defence of our country, which gives them hero status in our society today.”
From Lowesdale Primary School to Corowa High School to the Australian Department of Defence as Lieutenant Commander in the Navy based in Nowra, Wendy Ross (nee Sharp) reflected on some appropriate Anzac words.
“As we approach the centenary of the end of the first world war, we need not search for more than four words to embody the spirit of Anzac - courage, endurance, mateship, sacrifice,” the 57-year-old with 38 Navy years’ experience to date, said.
“There is enormous pride among the descendants of our veterans and the families of Australia’s current serving military personnel for their loved ones’ selfless work.
“Anzac Day is not just a day for heroic deeds and bravery in light of adversity, but rather a time to appreciate all those Australians who did their job when a job needed doing.”
In this year in which women’s service and contribution to Australia’s history is being remembered, Lieutenant Ross recalled the extreme hardship and dedication to duty of all those Australian nurses who served in the wars of the 20th century.
“We remember those killed in 1942 or who later died in POW camps,” the first time guest speaker at Corowa, said. “We remember those nurses, including 200 civilian nurses who served in Vietnam. These proud Australians are as much part of the Anzac Legacy as those who stormed the beaches on that fateful Anzac Day in 1915.”
Talking of pride, Wendy’s uncle, 92-year-old Alan Sharp, originally from Coreen, now residing in Jugiong and who served in World War 2, said he was “very proud of Wendy”. “I’ve travelled 300 kilometres to hear her,” he added.
Wendy, who was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) in 1995 for outstanding service, told the Free Press she was “honoured and privileged to be guest speaker in my home town”.
Close friend of Wendy’s, former Australian Navy nurse Janet Fazackerley, has been involved in the Corowa Dawn Service for many years, with the lighting of the lamp in honour of Australian nurses.
The lamp used by Janet is a representation of those used by nurses at night while tending to the needs of the sick, wounded and dying.
As reported recently in the Free Press, the monument is being looked after beautifully by its custodians. Courtesy of a Federation Council grant, Corowa RSL had a new door made and a additional plaque which cites The Ode, and has turned all the inscribed names of the fallen into gold leaf lettering.
Joanne Howe, as bugler for the past two decades, which involves playing at eight venues in Corowa and Wahgunyah, was superb, and the 26 ladies of the Corowa Sing Australia Group were also well received.
Many locals in Wahgunyah said it was the town’s biggest ever attendance on Anzac Day last Wednesday. In welcoming the estimated 450 people, Wahgunyah Progress Association President Alan Pleitner asked attendees “to reflect on this most important day in our history and on the sacrifices made by so many for us”.
Two guest speakers, Wahgunyah’s Richard (Dick) Grimmond and Geoff Mattson of Melbourne explained the almost 160-year connections of family to Wahgunyah, as depicted in picture format, and admired by locals, in the Wahgunyah School of Arts building.
2018 Anzac Day was well organised by Corowa RSL Sub-Branch. It will be a particularly big year in 2019 as the sub-branch turns 100-years-of- age.