Dumbleyung Shire President, Jacki Ball, welcomed all attendees before Mr Hughes shared a speech about the legacy of the ANZAC. Several wreaths were laid on behalf of the RSL, Australian Police Force, Shire of Dumbleyung and the general public. The Dumbleyung CRC also laid a wreath made by children within the community.
A minutes silence was observed following the last post and all sung the Australian anthem to conclude the service. The nine men and horse exited the service first. Many then attended a light lunch at the Dumbleyung District Club and a side of ‘two up’.
See below speech read by Stephen Hughes:
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Anzac Day service, where we come together today as a community, to commemorate our men and women who served their country, so that we can enjoy the freedoms and lifestyle we all experience today.
For the last few years we have commemorated the feats that our Soldiers, Sailors, airmen and nurses endured a century ago during the Great War. From the little known operations to capture German held territory in New Guinea and the South West Pacific, the landing of the Anzacs at Gallipoli and their following eight months of tenaciously clinging to the cliffs, to the mass slaughter of man and beast in the living hell of trench warfare of the Western front in France and Belgium, our Anzacs experienced deprivations and unimaginable suffering that, after four years of war had left our Army severely depleted and battered but still full of fight.
By the start of 1918, Germany and Russia had signed a peace treaty, freeing up many German divisions that were transferred from the Eastern front to the Western front. This gave the Germans the manpower to launch a massive assault in March, along the British line in an attempt to destroy the British army and capture the channel ports before the massive American army could be landed and turn the balance of power back to the Allies favour. The German storm troopers assault pushed a beaten Allied army back over the hard won, bloody battle fields of the Somme, reversing the gains of the previous two years. The Australian Divisions were thrown into the fray to try and stop the German offensive. On the eve of the third anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli, two Australian brigades counter attacked the Germans at a town called Villers-Bretonneux. Such was the ferocity of the Australians attack, that by the morning, the Germans had been defeated, and with their army in disarray, withdrew from the battle field. This battle changed the course of the war, and the mauled German army withdrew to a pre prepared fortified defensive position called the Hindenburg line.
With the help of the Americans, the allied army regained all their losses in the next few months and pushed the German army behind the Hindenburg line. By now, the Australian divisions were brought together as an all Australian Army under the command of the Australian General John Monash. This was a great boost for the Australians moral. Our Army had been involved in the worst of the battles of the last few years and their casualties had been excessively high. Their numbers were severely depleted and reinforcements from home had all but dried up, but now they were together and not commanded by blundering British Generals.
General Monash was to become one of the most successful Generals during the latter part of the Great War. While planning the capture of Hamel, Monash had allowed through his meticulous organisational skills, 90 minutes to achieve all objectives. The Australians captured all of the objectives in 93 minutes and with minimal casualties. This was to become common practise for the rest of the war. The Australian soldiers were used yet again as shock troops as they battered themselves against the Hindenburg line. Finally, at the battle of Bellicourt, the Australians broke through and as a result, the German army were in full retreat towards their homeland. Two days later, on the 5th of October, the Australians fought their last battle of the Great War at Montbrehain. The Australians were withdrawn to rest, a shell of an Army compared to when they first arrived in France two and a half years earlier. The New Zealanders were still fighting with the British Army and fought their final battle storming the town of Le Quesnoy. Seven days later at 11am, the Great War was over.
From a population of less than 4 million, 416,809 Australian men enlisted. 62000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or captured. Staggering statistics for a young nation as ours was back then. It has been said that not one family in Australia was untouched in one way or another from the Great War.
Unfortunately, the Great War was soon to be known as the First World War as 21 years later, we were at war again and the sons and daughters of the Anzacs were enlisting to serve their country and fight against an old foe and a new one who seemed unstoppable and invasion of our homeland imminent.
Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam followed, and another generation of Australians and New Zealanders found themselves answering the call to serve their countries as the new threat of communism spread throughout the world.
In more recent times, members of our defence forces have been deployed in Somalia, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan as we fight a war against terrorism and oppression of their population by religious extremists.
We do not come here today to glorify war. How can we glorify something that leaves nations destroyed, desolate and ravaged? It does not just kill soldiers and civilians, it wounds and maims them both physically and mentally. The legacy of war lasts for generations and robs families of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.
Our Anzacs have performed some amazing feats over the last 100 years. They have proved to the rest of the world that our two small, young nations could get the job done, especially when the odds were stacked against them. Words like resilience, courage, endurance, resourcefulness and compassion are used to describe our soldiers, sailors and airmen throughout their short history and their morals and ethics are reflected in the way we live our lives today. They were and continue today to be held in high esteem and are among the best forces in the world.
So we come here today to honour our fallen, to honour the 60 men from our community that did not return to us and to show our appreciation to our surviving veterans and to those who have and continue to serve in our Defence Forces. We reflect on those wonderful men and women who put themselves selflessly into harm’s way so we can live in peace and enjoy the freedom we experience in this great country.