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Balonne Shire residents pays their respects for ANZAC Day

STANDING GUARD: St George cadets at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.
STANDING GUARD: St George cadets at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service. David Barwell

Across the Balonne Shire, ANZAC Day commemorations have been held to honour the 99th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, and pay respects to the men and women who have served and died in war.

St George

Last Friday's commemorations began at 6am with the Anzac Dawn Service held at the cenotaph.

As the sun showed its first glimpses of rising, record numbers of around 300 people lined The Terrace to pause and remember the sacrifice and courage of those who made the dawn landing on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.

Following the service, flowers were laid on the graves of ex-service personnel at the St George Cemetery, and the war memorial service included the reading of names of personnel from the district who died during active duty.

In a speech at the memorial, Dr Adam Coltzau said that as the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing approaches, commemorating ANZAC Day was as important as ever.

"One-in-four of eligible personnel from the Balonne Shire enlisted from the district, and many more local people enlisted from other towns and cities," Dr Coltzau said.

"As we stand here today, never have the words of the oath been more important: Lest We Forget."

Before the march to the cenotaph got under way, which included the St George's cadets, schools, scouts, the Lions Club and the St George Pony Club, an RAAF flyover included a Super FA-18 fighter bomber flying eastward in the skies above St George.

Following the march, the service at the cenotaph had locals gather for speeches, the laying of wreaths, prayers, hymns and the playing of The Last Post.

St George Cadets Captain (AAC) Sue Muncuster said Anzac Day honoured sacrifice, duty, patriotism and mateship.

"We remember those who served in both World Wars, Korea, Borneo, Vietnam, Malaysia and more recently in Afghanistan," she said.

"We remember those who understood all values of independence, freedom and family and above all possessed the willingness to defend these things if needs be; because freedom only survives if people are willing to defend it."

Following the cenotaph service, ex-service personnel attended a luncheon at the St George RSL.

Dirranbandi

As ANZAC Day dawned, people from Dirranbandi and its surrounds gathered to honour the men and women who have served their country, and pay tribute to those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.

Dirranbandi RSL branch chairman Don Perkins said around 150 people had lined the streets for the town's Anzac parade.

"The pony club lead the march which included Dirranbandi and Hebel state schools, three veterans, and descendents of veterans," Mr Perkins said.

The guest speaker at the Dirranbandi service was retired Australian Army Major Mark Russell whose operational service included deployments to Malaysia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

After graduating from the infintry in 1977, Major Russell was posted to a number of Infantry battalions and the army parachute training school as a parachute and freefall instructor.

Mr Perkins said Major Russell had spoken on the theme of "freedom isn't free".

"Major Russell spoke about how it's often perceived that those who landed at Galiopoli were well-fed, excellent marksman from the bush, when in fact they were ordinary soldiers who in many cases didn't have a lot of training, were poorly fed, and poorly advised."

"He then went on to talk about how they showed courage and forged the mateship that the ANAZAC spirit is known for to this day."

In Dirranbandi, the main service was held at 10am at the RSL..

Bollon

Bollon residents gathered to honour and remember the Australian and New Zealand personnel who served their countries with pride.

Bollon resident Tiki North said the day of remembrance saw dozens of locals and guests attend the special commemoration services.

"The dawn service was very good and was followed by a gunfire breakfast at the Bollon Hotel," she said.

"The main service was at 10am and the police lead the march alongside the Bollon Pony Club and the veterans."

Bollon hosted a contingent from Push to the Bush during the Anzac Day period, which takes war veterans to regional parts of Queensland.

"The veterans came to the school and brought along helmets and war memorabilia as well as donating books to the school," Tiki North said.

"They also gave a talk about the war dogs and the children really responded to that."

Push to the Bush member and Vietnam veteran Bob Bettany said the program was designed to keep the Anzac spirit alive.

"It began nine years ago by Rod and Pam Elkington who thought there were not a lot of veterans in the bush," Mr Bettany said.

"Every year we get involved and go out to rural areas to talk about Anzac Day."

Topics:  anzac day, balonne shire, dawn service, st george


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