Pictured below: Sergeant A.Van Den Berg lays a wreath at the ANZAC service
An impressive 100+ strong crowd of all ages assembled at the war memorial to attend the 11.30 service.
Dumbleyung Shire President Gordon Davidson and Mr Hughes made speeches before the ‘last post’ was played. Several wreaths were laid on behalf of the RSL, Australian Police Force and the Shire of Dumbleyung.
The Australian anthem was sung and to conclude the service those in the march exited first and an applause was given as they marched down Absolon Street. Much of the crowd then attended a light luncheon with a side of ‘two up’ at the Dumbleyung District Club.
See below the speech read by Stephen Hughes:
Welcome everyone to our Anzac Day service, it is wonderful to see a large attendance today as we gather here together to commemorate our fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave up their lives for their empire and country.
Over the last few years, there has been a great amount of focus on the first world war as the centenary of the landings at the Dardanelles passes and we follow the movements of our Anzacs from Egypt to the battle grounds of France and Belgium.
The start of 1917 saw the Anzacs still around the Somme, in France recovering and reinforcing their depleted divisions after the devastating battles at Frommelles and Pozieres. The winter of 1916 / 17 was the coldest that France had experienced in twenty three years. Frost bite and trench foot were very common and cases of men freezing to death were innumerable, a stark and shocking difference to the winters in Australia and New Zealand. In April of that year, the Australian 4th division attacked the Hindenburg line at Bullecourt in snow with twelve tanks in support. This was the first time our soldiers fought with tanks. Only three tanks made it to the still intact walls of barbed wire where they were destroyed and the Australians were forced back, suffering 3,290 casualties for no gain. It would take some time before they trusted and relied on tanks in future battles.
In October, the Anzacs were to be found in Flanders where they fought in the third battle of Ypers. The Australian and New Zealanders were to be used as shock troops in this battle, with their final goal being a village on top of a ridge called Passchendaele. Once again, appalling weather came into play. Unseasonal Autumn rains turned the ground into a brown liquid morass that movement became impossible in. Guns sank when they fired and their shells would not explode in the mud leaving the belts of wire in front of the enemy intact. The mud swallowed up machines, horses, mules and man alike, many drowning in the bottomless putrid soup. The New Zealanders had their sole division ripped to shreds by machine guns as they hung, caught on the barbed wire, suffering 3,300 dead and wounded, their worst casualties for the war. The Australians faired no better. By the end of the campaign 38,000 Australians were dead, wounded or missing, picked off by the Germans as they floundered in the mire below them. The Anzacs had made small but important gains at Passchendaele, more than the English had achieved but still falling short of their goal. Passchendaele eventually fell when the Canadians attacked just as fiercely as their dominion cousins. The Anzacs were withdrawn for the rest of the year to once again rest, reinforce and rebuild.
1942 wasn't a very good year for Australians in general. Whilst battling the German army once again in the Second World War, Japan entered the war on the axis's side after a surprise attack on America at Pearl Harbour in December 1941. By February, the Americans had surrendered in the Philippines and after fighting the Japanese down the Malayan peninsula, the English army surrendered the fortress city of Singapore, forcing 22,000 Australians into captivity. These POWs were to spend the rest of the war under brutal conditions where many were to die from over work, disease bashings and torture from their captors. Australians were either killed or captured in the islands North of us and the Japanese held territory from Thailand through Malaya, Java, Ambon and New Guinea to the Solomon Islands.
Soon the Japanese attention turned to mainland Australia. With the bombing of Darwin and raids around the coast including Broome and Exmouth, panic set in to the Australian people as invasion from the enemy seemed imminent. A raid by 3 Japanese midget submarines into Sydney Harbour that killed 19 Australians did not help to calm the populace.
Things were looking fairly desperate with most of our Army still returning from fighting the German and Italian Armies in North Africa and a whole division in captivity. One small glimmer of hope lay with several militia battalions in Port Moresby, New Guinea who were being used to build defences, unload ships and represent a token gesture of defence for the town. These untrained troops weren't really allowed out of Australia, let alone fit to fight a jungle war, but they were thrown into the fray anyway.
Two of these battalions were to march unprepared up an old pre war trail that was used to take mail to the villages on the North coast of New Guinea, to try and stop the advance of the yet undefeated Japanese Army on Port Moresby. They met and engaged the enemy at Wairopi on what is now known as the Kokoda track. Using a fighting withdrawal to make the Japanese pay for every yard of that track, the Australians retreated through Kokoda to Isurava where the were reinforced with a Brigade of experienced regular Army, fresh from victories in the North of Africa. The relentless Japanese pushed the Australians back along the mountainous jungle track often engaging each other on a front no wider than a meter and at distances sometime under 5 meters. Using grenades and bayonets to stop the enemy from over-running them, the Australians withdrew past Imita ridge where the Japanese attack stalled as they ran out of supplies and disease and mounting casualties stopped them within view of the harbour of Port Moresby, just 30Kms from their goal. Now the Australians, with fresh soldiers and a shortened supply line, forced the exhausted enemy back over the Owen Stanley range to their original landing points. This was to be the first defeat of the Japanese Army since they entered the war, dispelling the myth that they were invincible.
While the battles for the Kokoda track were taking place, a similar fight against the Japanese was taking place on the Eastern tip of Papua New Guinea at Milne Bay. The enemy were trying to take over the Australian air base so as to launch their own air attacks on Port Moresby, assisting their attack over the Owen Stanley Range. The Japanese attacked with infantry and tanks while supported by their navy, but were repelled by the Australian troops and Air Force at the very ends of the runways of the airfield, forcing the enemy to withdraw from this area.
Both of these battles came about from the turning back of the Japanese navy, as they attempted to take Port Moresby by landing a force by sea in May. This became known as the battle for the Coral Sea. This was a naval engagement of a new kind, as planes from an American and Australian fleet engaged Japanese ships off the Queensland coast and the enemy planes engaged us, without the two battling fleets seeing one another. This defeat at sea for the Japanese, forced them to attack Port Moresby by the Kokoda track and Milne Bay.
These engagements and battles inflicted much damage to the Japanese and put a stop to their expansion in the South West Pacific, possibly sparing Australia from invasion. The first defeats of a seemingly invincible enemy seventy five years ago were attributed to the Australians who were fighting with their backs to the wall. These men turned the tide and saved Australia.
Through out our short history, men and women of our Army, Navy and Air Force have shown time and time again, their resilience, courage and fortitude, especially when the chips are down. Not just in the First and Second World Wars but also in Korea, Viet nam, Malaysia, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. We come together today to commemorate our fallen countrymen and women and also to acknowledge those still serving on overseas deployment in advisory and peacekeeping roles as well as fighting in the War on Terror. We pray that they are kept from harm and return safely to us especially during these uncertain times. We stand here today to remember those friends and family who serve and have given their lives, fighting for the freedom that we enjoy today. Lest we Forget.