Wimmera Anzac Day services bring record numbers | Lest We Forget

RECORD numbers flocked to Anzac Day remembrance services across the Wimmera on Friday.

Nhill RSL secretary Henry Berry said the community’s commitment to commemorating Australian soldiers who had lost their lives at war grew each year.

“We had a record with our badge sales, a record crowd at the dawn service and a record crowd at the morning service,” he said.

“The Rotary Club of Nhill does breakfast for us and when we started that some years ago, we had about 15 to 20 at the dawn service.

"On Friday the Rotary Club did breakfast for 300 people.”

Mr Berry said it was wonderful to see members of Nhill’s Karen community at the services.

Stawell RSL president Geoff Reading said about 400 people joined in the dawn service.

He said there were more people at the morning service. 

“It was really, really magic,” he said.

“I’ve been president of the Stawell RSL for more than six years and every year there seems to be getting more and more people getting involved with it.’’

Mr Reading said the increased turnout included large numbers of school children and young adults.

“It is really mind-boggling and heartwarming to see young people show such an interest,” he said.

Mr Reading said the growth in Anzac services meant commemorative services would continue for years to come.

“There are a lot of Vietnam veterans, such as myself, running RSLs and when we roll on you’ve got the boys from Iraq and Afghanistan and other peacekeeping missions to take over,” he said.

“I sincerely hope we don’t have any more conflict, so it will be up to individuals to keep it going after that.”

Edenhope RSL president Rob Pettman said the town’s services had run smoothly.

“We had 100 for a breakfast, we probably had 250 at the service and about 100 at the morning tea,” he said.

He said the services were important in a town of Edenhope’s size.

“It helps the next generation learn what Anzac Day is all about.”

“Whether they fought at Gallipoli, Kokoda, Vietnam or Afghanistan, the sacrifices, courage and compassion of our soldiers should never be forgotten.” - Emma Kealy

Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy was the guest speaker at Edenhope’s service.

Inspired by Anzac Day, she decided to do some digging into her family history.

To her surprise, she discovered her great-grandfather Francis Edmund Kealy survived one of the most brutal Australian endeavours in the First World War. 

“Frank served in the 8th Light Horse Regiment, which was tied to the Charge at the Nek,” she said. 

“There was an enormous loss of life.

“The 8th Light Horse suffered 234 casualties, 154 fatal.”

The Apsley community presented Private Kealy and each serviceman from its community with a pocket watch, a token of their pride.

Ms Kealy brought her great-grandfather’s watch along with her to Edenhope’s service for people to see.

She also brought an original army uniform from the Second World War.

“My great uncle James Charles Gregor Kealy was a captain in the Australian Army in the Second World War, and great uncle Rex Tucker was a Rat of Tobruk,” she said.

“Whether they fought at Gallipoli, Kokoda, Vietnam or Afghanistan, the sacrifices, courage and compassion of our soldiers should never be forgotten.”

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