IN A cruel blow for Welshpool, especially coming as it did only just before ANZAC Day, when the Australian flag is traditionally raised, someone has made off with the town’s flagpole.
The theft is believed to have occurred just after the Easter weekend. The substantial metal pole, measuring several metres in height, was unbolted and removed from its location in front of the cenotaph in the town’s main street – the South Gippsland Highway. It presumably took some planning and effort.
Police investigating the case have estimated the cost of replacement at $1000. They are appealing to anyone who has any information to come forward. Witnesses are asked to contact Toora police station on 5686 2485.
The local (Toora & District) RSL was unable to get hold of a replacement flagpole in time for ANZAC Day on Friday, but the ceremony still went ahead at the cenotaph – without the raising of a flag. It was one of numerous ceremonies across the district, all very well attended.
As if to show solidarity in the face of the desecration of the memorial site, a particularly large crowd gathered at Welshpool on ANZAC Day. Estimates put the crowd at over 100, with many going on to the service afterwards in the Welshpool Memorial Hall.
Service personnel from the RAAF base at Sale formed a catafalque guard around the cenotaph, while wreaths were laid. Rod Coghran-Lane, president of the Toora & District RSL, led the service, including reading out the names on the cenotaph – locals who were killed in the first or second world wars. Afterwards, in the service at the hall, guest speaker Flight Lieutenant Aaron Doherty spoke about the men who had made the ultimate sacrifice with the hope of making the world a better place, focusing in particular on local farmer Francis Vale. He also made special mention of the children at the service, pointing out the importance of honouring the significance of ANZAC Day down the generations. Welshpool Primary School students Fergus Cashmore, Linden Demaria and Taylah Bush did a fine job of reading the ANZAC Requiem at the service.
About 100 hardy souls braved the chill of the early morning to attend the dawn service at Toora, before enjoying breakfast back at the RSL clubrooms. By 11am, when the second service of the day was held at the Toora cenotaph, the sun was shining brightly and it was a glorious day.
“One of the biggest crowds ever attended the Foster service”, is what secretary/manager Perce Brewer told The Mirror after the service.
President Bruce Lester conducted the service which included many wreaths being laid at the Cenotaph.
A good crowd attended the service at the FWMAC after with Lt. Commander David Lassam from HMAS Cerberus guest speaker, his fifth year in this capacity, and then back to the Foster RSL for refreshments.
Around 300 people attended the Anzac Day Commemoration Ceremony at Meeniyan, which began with the march up and down Whitelaw Street to the Cenotaph. This was followed by the Ceremony, officiated by Meeniyan & District RSL Sub-Branch president Heather Scott.
Guests included personnel from HMAS Cerberus who formed the Catafalque Guard, Sergeant at Arms Graham Kelly, and South Gippsland Shire councillors Bob Newton and Andrew McEwen.
The Meeniyan Ecumenical Choir led the crowd in the singing of ‘God Save The Queen’ and performed ‘Requiem For A soldier,’ and the Tarwin Valley Primary School Choir sang ‘Lest We Forget.’ Music was provided by the Leongatha Secondary College Band.
Special guest, Lietuenant Commander Jane Bourke ADF, of HMAS Cerberus, had the opportunity to visit Gallipoli in 2000, accompanying officer cadets on their battlefield tours.
Lt. Commander Bourke’s reading of the story of ‘Jack,’ was very moving, bringing a tear to more than a few eyes. ‘Jack,’ a representative figure of a young Australian farmer, was typical of those from rural areas who enlisted to help their mates, their country, and their country’s neighbours, – quickly leaving behind their early adulthood in the midst of warfare.
Following this address, Tarnya Wilson presented the Anzac Requiem. Heather Scott invited attendees to lay wreaths in honour of lives lost at war. The ‘Last Post’ was played by Syd Jackson, music co-ordinator at South Gippsland Secondary College.
Anzac Day at Fish Creek, officiated by the Fish Creek RSL’s Ros Bryan, was also attended by around 300 people. The march to ‘The Rock’ was led by Honourary Regimental Sgt Major Stephen MacKenzie of the Gippsland Lighthorse Association, astride 30 year-old ‘Buster.’
Jack Charlton and Stan Tindle, past president of Fish Creek Sub-Branch RSL, participated in the parade on scooters and forming the Guard were members of Fish Creek Scouts – Bradley Tennyenhuis, Emma Taylor, Bec Taylor and Matthew Arbuthnot – under the leadership of Scott Tennyenhuis.
Following the laying of over 100 wreaths, the Last Post was played by Ian and Hannah Duffus. The Service, held in the Fish Creek Memorial Hall, featured an address by Dr Fran Grimes, the Requiem by ex Commander Mike Lovell, and an address by RAAF Wing Commander Joe Vine and also by ex Grenadier Guard Alan Talmarsh.
Under the direction of choir teacher Sue Dower, the Fish Creek and District Primary School Choir performed ‘Lest We Forget,’ and ‘Wonderful World, along with ‘Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye) – accompanied by audience participation. Students then began ‘the march’ in the hall, being joined by teachers and then by all those attending. rising to their feet toes tapping, by all those attending the service.