VETERANS and servicemen in the region have been saddened to learn Army reserves soldiers will not be tasked to support Anzac Day services.
For more than 90 years, the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers unit has tasked soldiers to mount catafalque parties at Anzac Day services at war memorials between Muswellbrook and Armidale.
However, "operational commitments" will mean a stunning break in tradition for RSL sub-branches like Manilla who have had unbroken support from the regiment for decades.
Manilla RSL secretary Ian Bignall was taken aback and very disappointed by the development, especially given this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the town's first Anzac march.
"My first Anzac Day was 1972 and they were there and I can remember them being there when I was a kid," he said.
Mr Bignall said it was "kick in the guts" for a small community suffering and struggling through the drought.
"I don't think people understand how important it is to a little town to have something like that," he said.
"We just seem to get kicked in the guts more and more and it's little things.
"Tamworth will have soldiers and Manilla won't."
Mr Bignall was unsure how the sub-branch would replace the catafalque party, but he had contacted New England MP Barnaby Joyce to voice his disappointment and hoped to get the decision reversed.
It is unclear how many Anzac Day services in the region won't have 12th/16th catafalque parties this year but Regimental Sergeant Major Grant Gripske confirmed to the Leader the unit would not be able to fulfill requests outside Tamworth, Armidale and Muswellbrook.
He said "operational commitments" with the Australian Defence Force had eaten up the unit's resources this year.
Usually, it would have "close to 40 support tasks" around Anzac Day including catafalque parties, guest speaking and school appearances, but the RSM wouldn't disclose how many tasks would be carried out this year. "We're working to fulfil as many support requests as humanly possible," he said.
"We're always disappointed to not support local organisations for Anzac Day, it's such a special day for us and for Australians and New Zealanders as a whole."
The Leader understands a number of sub-branches are yet to be informed about potential changes.
RSM Gripske said the reserves were currently recruiting and encouraging younger generations to join. The department of defence was contacted for comment.
What is a catafalque party?
Catafalque parties are mounted around coffins as a sign of respect and around memorials on occasions of remembrance such as Anzac Day.
The catafalque party consists of four members of an armed guard who stand, their heads bowed and their arms (weapon) reversed, facing outward approximately one metre from the coffin or catafalque as a symbolic form of respect for those who have fallen. Source: Australian Army.