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June 21, 2024 3:37 AM

GALLERY: Record Numbers Across the Region Commemorates Anzac Day

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Anzac Day is a day of solemn reflection, a time to be proud of our region, our country and our people.

Record crowds across the region gathered for dawn services with numbers again growing for main marches and services.

School student involvement was down but only slightly and given it was school holidays, the numbers who stepped off to march was impressive.

Commanding Officer of the School of Infantry, Lt. Col Jarrod Brook told the Singleton service that the landing at Anzac Cove back in 1915 and the subsequent campaign would be a shock to a nation that had not experienced the destructive power of industrialised warfare.

“The Anzac experience is characterized by that of an unprepared force, keen and eager, landing at the wrong place, fighting against odds that were stacked from the start, in a campaign that would ultimately have no bearing on the outcome of the First World War.

“It was, as historians have assessed, an ill-conceived campaign in pursuit of a vague objective, premised on an under-estimation of the military capabilities of the Turkish soldier.

“Two divisions would be landed on Anzac Cove by the end of the first day at the cost of approximately 900 dead and 2000 wounded with no discernible tactical or operational advantage achieved,” he said.

He said while April 25, 1915 had been seared into Australian history to mark Anzac Day, its meaning had evolved to commemorate those who have died from all wars and to recognised that the effects of war cause trauma far beyond the battlefield.

“The duty to remember is profound and personal for all of us.”

Former St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen and Muswellbrook Public School student Flight Lieutenant Ben Young addressed the Muswellbrook Anzac Day service and paid tribute to two men who lost their lives. 

Private Keith Norman Crib, who at 18 was enlisted as part of the Third Infantry Battalion, First Brigade, and lost his life in the stalemate that followed the initial ANZAC landing in Gallipoli.

Squadron Leader Peter Ronald Heath joined the RAAF and deployed to Egypt to support the Sixth Division in the Middle East campaign of World War II, where he was shot down when his flight came under attack on a tactical reconnaissance mission.

“We recognize like Private Crib and Squadron Leader Heath, more than 100,000 Australian servicemen and women who have lost the lives in military operations carried out in our country’s name.

“We honour the values that have been invested in the original Anzacs, loyalty, selflessness, courage and the ways in which later generations have measured their own achievements against those soldiers who fought in Gallipoli.”

The Branxton community lined both sides of the New England Highway to support the march, led by 98-year-old WWII veteran Mr Errol Bailey, who intends to march until he is 100.

Alongside Errol was Thomas Groves, Stirling Ledingham and Archer Ledingham who marched in memory of their grandfather, Mr Peter Groves, who was a long-term member of the executive of Branxton RSL sub-branch.

The services were held at Branxton’s Memorial Rotunda, which celebrated its centenary last year.

Federal MP for the Hunter, Dan Repacholi, delivered a moving commemoration address, remembering Cessnock local, Corporal Jack Fitzgibbon, who lost his life while training in March.

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