There was barely a seat left in the house, and a crowd of people standing and listening from outside the main doors of the Tamworth Town Hall at the most well attended Anzac Service in recent memory.
Tamworth RSl sub-branch senior vice president Sandra Lambkin welcomed the large crowd, which included a long list of dignitaries, including both State and Federal Members Kevin Anderson and Barnaby Joyce respectively.
Ms Lambkin gave a rousing address about Australia’s long history of involvement in foreign conflicts, with this year marking the centenary of WWI battles such as Polygon Woods, Fromelle and Beersheba, as well as the 75th anniversaries of WWII battles like the Coral Sea, El Alamein and Kokoda, while also mentioning Vietnam theatres such as Balmoral.
“It gives some idea of the extent of Australian involvement in war – to this day over 90,000 Australians have died at war – although there are many more that were wounded and disabled, and that list continues to grow,” she said.
“The only debt we owe the dead is to remember them, and we honour that debt well, but we owe the returned servicemen and women so much more.”
For the first time in over 40 years, since he returned from Vietnam, Tamworth RSL chaplain Father Tom Shanahan wasn’t on hand for the Anzac day duties due to ill-health, although we were assured he is recovering and will be returning.
In the meantime Assistant Chaplain Chris Wright did a sterling job leading the commemoration through the religious aspects, before Acting Mayor Helen Tickle gave an emotionally charged address to the crowd.
Cr Tickle spoke of the realities of war, and what that meant not only to the men and women returning from conflict, but also what impact it had on those that were left at home, particularly women.
“For the second time in history, the first being in 2006, we saw women leading the Anzac March in Tamworth,” Cr Tickle said.
“Women have also served Australia for over 100 years during war time, often putting their shoulder to the wheel at home to fill the voids, the farms, the factories and other jobs that the men had left to go and fight.”
Fellow councillor Mark Rodda commented that he thought numbers at the Main Service “had quadrupled in recent years.”
Over 20 wreathes were laid to complete the ceremony, followed by the Last Post and National Anthem.
RSL sub-branch President Bob Chapman was overwhelmed by not only how many community members attended the service, but also the Dawn Service and March.
“Numbers are up every year, which is great to see,” Mr Chapman said.
“The commemoration is in safe hands to continue through the generations.
“I would like to thank everyone who attended and everyone that supports this unbelievable day of remembrance.”
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