A different way of commemorating Anzac Day
The Shepparton RSL did not plan to make history this Anzac Day.But it did.
This year COVID-19 cancelled services across Greater Shepparton. Instead thousands of people stood at the bottom of their driveways to show the community had not forgotten and for the first time in its history the RSL’s commemoration service was published via The News website.
Shepparton RSL president Robert Wilkie said the pandemic had changed the way people commemorated April 25, but it did not change its meaning.
“The spirit of Anzac with its qualities of courage, mateship and sacrifice continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity,” Mr Wilkie said.
“We meet not to glorify war or praise victors, but to remember those who have served our country and to reflect on their selfless sacrifice.”
Three generations of Graeme Bayley’s family have made that sacrifice. A Vietnam veteran himself, his father Reginald Bayley and grandfather Frederick Rowe served during both world wars.
Frederick served in the light horse regiment at Beersheba from 1915. He died aged 65. Mr Bayley, who lives in Shepparton, said the war took a toll on his grandfather’s life. “There is no doubt the war and what he suffered from after it contributed to his early demise,” Mr Bayley said. “He did not talk much about his experiences, but I can remember him telling me the hardest thing he had to do was shoot his horse after it had been wounded in the charge.”
“World War I was supposed to be the war to end all wars – it wasn’t. Twenty years after World War I, World War II began.”
Mr Bayley’s father Reginald served in Guinea during the Second World War and saw action in various parts of the country, but was also reluctant to talk. “This attitude is understandable,” Mr Bayley said.
Mr Bayley’s service started with three months basic training at Puckapunyal followed by three months at Singleton in NSW. “Following Singleton, I went to Canungra in Queensland for specialised training in jungle warfare,” he said. “This was the hardest
work I had ever done, but by then I was fit and I got through it. From Canungra I was posted to the Australian Reinforcement Unit and sent to Vietnam along with some of the blokes I had gone through Puckapunyal, Singleton and Canungra with. We became very good friends and still are to this day”
Mr Bayley said Anzac Day reminded people to pause and reflect on the sacrifices that had been made. “Sacrifices to ensure that our great country continues to be envy of the world,” he said.
Published by the Shepparton News
Image courtesy Shepparton News
To view the 2020 local Commemorative ANZAC Day service, please click here.
We thank the Shepparton News for producing this special event.