Photo: Yass RSL Sub-branch president Steve Neuhaus and Mayor Allan McGrath (Brianna O’Rourke)

Yass 1st Scouts

On ANZAC Day, at memorials and ceremonies across the Yass Valley and wider Australia, we remember those who served our nation when they were called on to do so.

Yass High School at the ANZAC Day march

For the first time in two years local veterans and community members marched down the street on Monday morning to honour the courage, endurance, mateship, and sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) that lives on today.

It was a particularly significant occasion with this year’s commemorations the first face-to-face events without restrictions since the pandemic began. They are also the first since Australia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This year we also commemorated 75 years of Australian Peacekeeping, including Somalia 1992-1995 (30th Anniversary) and the end of the Vietnam War in 1972 (Australia’s commitment 1963-1972).

Cath Neuhaus holding the flag

Yass RSL President Steve Neuhaus emceed the proceedings after a last-minute positive COIVD-19 test took the original emcee out of the running. He approached the job with a quick wit and notable sense of humour announcing himself before moving into his prepared speech.

Officer Cadet Alex Fraser

Yass’ special guest was local veteran and previous RSL Yass sub-branch President retired Colonel Neil Turner.

Yass Officer in Charge, Inspector Dave Cowell

“Australians have gathered to commemorate Anzac Day and in doing so pay tribute to our veterans, where it was born on this day in 1915,” he said. “That soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the ANZACS, stormed the bloody beaches of Gallipoli and were engaged for the next eight months in ferocious combat with the Turks.”

Yass Hospital Auxiliary and Yass Red Cross laying their wreaths

“Where they also suffered from the excesses of climate ranging from the blistering summer heat and dust to blizzards and torrential rain, which filled the pits and drowned the soldiers.”

Yass CWA President Brenda Phillips laying a wreath

“The outstanding performance of its troops was seen by many as the true foundation of our nation,” Neil said. “Throughout the Gallipoli campaign those soldiers, those ANZACs, displayed immense courage, tenacity, compassion, endurance, and mateship aspects now thought of as defining the Australian character.”

Meanwhile, Murrumbateman’s earlier ceremony at 9:30am, organised by the local Lions Club, drew a large crowd with special guest Commodore Jacqui King RAN giving an address.

“While we can never forget the service and sacrifice on the Gallipoli peninsula and on the Western Front over a century ago, we cannot allow them to define us forever,” the Commodore said. “The events of the Second World War are even more significant for Australia as for much of that conflict they were not on the other side of the world, but in and around our country.”

Murrumbateman Lions Club member Jill Buckfield RAN retired and Commodor Jacqui King RAN

“80 years ago, when Australians and New Zealanders gathered to mark Anzac Day in 1942, the nation’s faced the most direct threat in their history, a terrible war was being waged, and it was on our doorstep,” she said. “Darwin was bombed for the first time in February 1942.”

Murrumbateman ANZAC Ceremony

“The defence of Australia was a desperate maritime campaign fought by a coalition of nations, by sailors, soldiers and aviators in the waters and islands to our north, around our coast by sea, land and air.

“As I look to the commemorative plaques across from us, the surnames of Davis, Butt and Hall appear multiple times, suggesting that some families in this district, as across the nation, may have been praying for many members of their clan.”

Glen Pritchard laying a wreath for Member for Eden Monaro Kristy McBain

Although Jacqui could not find if the repeated names were related, the Australian War Memorial records show that private Francis Raymond Hall served with the 36-infantry battalion, with service in both New Guinea and New Britain. Corporal Stanley Arthur Hall, also enlisted from this district and served with the AIF. Both soldiers were discharged at the conclusion of the war and returned home.

Cr Mike Reid laying a wreath

By Brianna O’Rourke