Thousands Attend Anzac Celebrations

ATTENTION: A soldier salutes after performing the last post at ANZAC day’s dawn service.

ONE could sense them there in the early morning darkness but it was not until the light of dawn stretched across The Strand’s Memorial Park that the magnitude of the crowd at the Townsville Anzac Day Dawn Service could be appreciated.

by Jenna Johnstone

ATTENTION: A soldier salutes after performing the last post at ANZAC day’s dawn service.

ATTENTION: A soldier salutes after performing the last post at ANZAC day’s dawn service.

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An estimated 10,000 people braved the early morning chill to watch and take part in the Anzac Day Dawn commemoration service and pay their respects to those who have served, are serving and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Community organisations and leaders commemorated fallen military personal marching a path lined by children to lay their wreaths while the bugler stood with the sun rising behind him.

Third Brigade commander, Brigadier Roger Noble addressed the record-breaking crowd saying there were more than 1500 Australians currently deployed in various peace keeping missions overseas.

Commander Noble spoke of the “mateship, courage and commitment” of those who served Australia in the armed forces, qualities which were very important among those first Anzacs who landed on the pebbled beaches of Gallipoli in the early hours of April 25, 1915.

“What Australians need to understand is not many countries have a dedicated special day they picked themselves that they have held for 99 years,” he says.

“The Townsville service has modernised in recent years but the tradition still holds strong every year and it continues to grow.”

Townsville’s First Battalion Brigadier Neil Weekes, who served in Vietnam, says this years’ service highlighted the impact that those who fought and lost their lives for our country, have had on the history of Anzac Day.

“One in three men were killed or wounded in World War I which is a significant number in comparison to those who serve our nation today,” he says.

“The Anzac’s and their families were forced to overcome confronting personal challenges.”

Father John Candy, who also addressed the ever-growing crowd, says he attends Anzac Day commemorations to reflect upon war and the alliance Australian and New Zealand troops forged in World War I.

“It’s a time to remember those who have given their sacrifice but also to continue to remember what we don’t like about war, why we seek peace and harmony,” he says.

“Anzac Day is a time to also celebrate and thank those who have served or are currently serving under our flag.”

The Anzac celebrations continued throughout the day with North Queensland’s oldest war veterans taking pride of place at this year’s Anzac Day march on The Strand.

Thousands of people attended to see the marching bands, the proud servicemen and the older veterans who played up to the crowd waving regally from the back of vehicles.

The annual march, which kicked off from Strand Park at 9:30am, included serving and retired members of the military as well as representatives from over 80 community organisations including ex-service groups and students from 33 schools.

Saint Margaret Marys School Captain Tyla Leo says being able to march at The Strand allowed her to honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“We have a large portion of our girls out here today celebrating the spirit of ANZAC, with many of them wearing medals of their fallen relatives,” she says.

“It’s nice for us as a school community to give a little bit of our time to show our appreciation to the men and women who have served our country.”

As Australia commemorated 100 years since the beginning of World War I, Townsville City Council hosted one of the biggest parades Townsville has ever seen with numbers surpassing last year’s bumper crowd.

At the completion of the march Mayor Jenny Hill addressed the crowd stating that Anzac Day held special significance for many North Queensland families because of Townsville’s role as a garrison city.

“Over 40 per cent of Townsville’s population enlisted in World War I, therefore change was inevitable for our community,” she says.

“The loss of local youth and men was an everlasting tragedy to our region.

“With our rich military history, Anzac Day is an especially important time for Townsville to reflect on the great sacrifices our soldiers have made for our nation in the past and present.”

Next year will commemorate 100 years since Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli with Anzac celebrations expected to be the biggest yet.