TAMWORTH will remember the mud, blood and despair of World War I from 11am today at the Anzac Gates, marking the beginning of four years of commemorations.
Although much focus has been placed on Anzac Day 2015, August 4 marks a century since Britain declared war on Germany, with Australia joining Britain on August 5.
This was prompted by the German invasion of Belgium.
Tamworth RSL Sub-branch president Bob Chapman said today would be the start of the commemoration of, and events marking, WWI which will continue until November 11, 2018.
“Gallipoli was probably one of the bravest actions by all the men, but I hope those who attend Anzac Days and Remembrance Days for the next four years will go to those services with the same thoughts,” he said.
“We also remember those who have fought since World War I, and there will still be a big emphasis on all those who fought in all those other wars and peacekeeping.”
Mr Chapman said the start of any war was worse than its end and WWI was no different, because the men and nurses did not know how long they would be gone for. It was a huge commitment from a young nation – from a population of less than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, with more than 60,000 killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner over the four years of the Great War.
“We know there were wars that Australians were in before then, but we fought under Britain and under their command,” Mr Chapman said.
“World War I was the first time Australians fought as a federated nation and was the bloodiest, cruellest and dirtiest war, mainly because of the mustard gas.”
Mr Chapman said he hoped businesses and employers would be sympathetic to those who wished to pay their respects this morning and allow them to attend the service for an hour.
“I know the cost to them of losing a few staff, but it’s only for an hour, and if they have employees who are connected with the service (today), I would ask them to have a bit of compassion and allow them an hour to come and attend the service. Today is not only about the launch of the Not Just Names In Stone book, calendar and port, and the commencement of World War I and the volunteers, it’s about all wars. It’s about commemorating those brave men and nurses who took up the challenge, all voluntarily, to help keep Australia and the Motherland free,” he said.
The dictionary biography Not Just Names In Stone, a commemorative port and a commemorative calendar will also be launched after the 11am service in Anzac Park, with a sausage sizzle to be held afterwards.
The commemoration has attracted relatives of those listed on the Anzac Gates from across the state.
All ex-service personnel are requested to wear medals.