Salute to the fallen

FRASER COAST residents will be able to mark Anzac Day on April 25, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing that Dawn Services, marches and public commemorations can all go ahead this year.

(Contributed by Hervey Bay RSL)

Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch President Brian Tidyman. PHOTO: Supplied.

It was welcome news for Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch President Brian Tidyman, who was determined that COVID-19 would not stop local diggers from honouring the fallen this year.

Instead of heading back to the RSL for an iconic rum on Anzac Day in 2020, Mr Tidyman poured a glass at home, watched the live telecast of the service from Canberra and later laid a wreath at the Freedom Park cenotaph – a shift in routine that left himself and many fellow veterans feeling lost.

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Both Anzac Day and Remembrance Day fell victim to the Coronavirus Pandemic last year, with all services cancelled.

Many other Fraser Coast residents and veterans instead held Light up the Dawn driveway vigils on Anzac Day.

While it was gratifying to see residents turn out on their driveways, Mr Tidyman said as a veteran, nothing can compare to standing at the cenotaph at first light for the Dawn Service.

Mr Tidyman said its origin stems from Reverend Arthur Earnest White. 

In November 1914, history books show that the Reverend and many locals climbed Mt Clarence to watch as 60 or more ships left for the Great War in Europe.

While some of these ships stopped by Fremantle, others didn’t and for many of the troops the green hills of Albany were their last sight of Australia. 

Many went straight to Egypt for training before being dropped at Gallipoli on the morning of April 25, 1915.

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On February 24, 1918, and after spending time on Western Front late in 1916 as a “Padre”, Rev White held a service for the fallen at the bottom of the Mt Clarence summit, where a boatman cast a wreath into King George Sound (Albany’s harbour) to coincide with the ceremony.

In 1923, it is believed that Rev White conducted Australia’s first unofficial Anzac Dawn Service at the same summit.

“You stand and look down into King George Sound, and it’s eerie,” Mr Tidyman said.

“There’s a museum there now and a plaque naming every ship.”

The first official Dawn Service was held at Sydney’s Cenotaph during 1928. 

“The Dawn Service is the ex-services parade,” Mr Tidyman said.

“It’s the one where we remember our mates.

“The Main Service is for the public to pay their respects and that’s why we only allow veterans to march in the Dawn Service. 

“We all lost mates and that’s something we all unfortunately have in common.”

The veterans will step-off from the RSL for the Dawn Service march at about 5.15am, and again for the Main March at about 10am.

Due to ongoing restrictions, only ex-service personnel will march on the day. 

The main service will also have a special focus on Air Force 100 – Centenary of Air Force, including an address from ex-RAAF personnel. 

Mr Tidyman said social distancing will still be a key part of the public services, with those who want to show their respects doing so independently. 

 “If the public would like to come, they certainly can, but the onus is on them to keep their distance.”

Veterans will then return to the Hervey Bay RSL for a closed function, where they will be sure to raise a glass or two to their fallen mates, tell tales and exchange yarns – something that was sorely missed last year.

The RSL will then open to the public from 12pm, with the café open at this time.

The gaming room will open at 1pm. Two-up will also be held in Hervey House from 1pm.

Gunfire Breakfast:

Sub-Branch members who would like to attend the Gunfire Breakfast from 6am at the RSL, must book their ticket at the Sub-Branch or RSL Administration (Level 2) between 9.30am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, between March 21 and April 21, 2021.

Sub-Branch members are allowed one guest or carer per commemoration service and function.

Wristbands can be collected at the Sub-Branch between 9.30am and 1pm, Monday to Friday, between March 21 and April 21, 2021.

Due to ongoing restrictions, wristbands will NOT be issued on the day. Bookings are essential.

Services:

The Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch will hold COVID safe Commemoration Services at the Light Horse War Memorial in Freedom Park, Pialba.

Due to ongoing restrictions, only ex-service personnel will take part in both marches this year.

Dawn service: The Dawn Service march will leave the RSL Club at about 0515 hours and the service will start when the march has entered Freedom Park at about 0530 hours.

Main Service: The Main March will step-off from the RSL carpark at about 1000 (10am) hours and move to Freedom Park. The service will commence at 1030 hours.

If you are feeling unwell, please stay at home. Residents are still welcome to pay their respects in their driveway should they choose to.

Note: Anzac Day will fall on Sunday, April 25 this year, with Monday being observed as a public holiday.

  • All information is correct at the time of going to print but is subject to change should Government guidelines and restrictions change.

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