The Yass RSL Sub-Branch has held yet another respectful ANZAC Day commemoration service, with two well attended ceremonies in which our community honoured those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our country.

2023 marks 108 years since Australian and New Zealand troops first landed on the shores of Gallipoli, however, the lives and sacrifices made by the soldiers still live on in the memory of all to this day, and it’s those sacrifices that allow us as Australians to live a life of freedom today.

The Yass RSL Sub-Branch held their Dawn Service at the Yass Soldiers’ Memorial Hall on Comur Street starting at 6am, with a large contingent of the townspeople showing their respect for the day and taking a moment to reflect.

Following the observance of the Dawn Service, the town got ready for the annual ANZAC Day 11:00 AM service and wreath laying ceremony. 

Guest speaker Tony Hagerty

The Times spoke guest speaker Tony Hagerty who is still in service as a Warrant Officer Class 2 following the conclusion of the Dawn Service in Yass about what ANZAC Day means to him. 

“I’m still serving which I have done for over 40 years. I’m sick at the moment and have got terminal cancer,” Tony said.

“Luke and I served together for a couple of months in Afghanistan. I came over with the Australian Defence Force and we spent two months together.

“Initially, I started in infantry and then later on I transferred to the military police, and I became an investigator. I was with the Special Investigation Branch.

“I have a number of mates that aren’t with us anymore, so I remember them on a day like today. In my unit over in Afghanistan, one of the jobs we had to do was the repatriation of deceased members killed in action, or other means, and we would have to bring them back.

“That was a pretty important, solemn job. We took that very seriously. Take a lot of pride in the job we did.”

Yass RSL Sub-Branch President Luke Hagerty

The Times also spoke to Tony’s son, Major Luke Hagerty, who was medically discharged and spoke about how special it was to serve with his father.

“We served in Afghanistan together and in 2013. Dad actually flew into Tarin Kowt on my birthday,” Luke said.

“Then later on when I was an Officer Commanding of the Rifle Company, we went to Butterworth, Malaysia.

“Dad was the Investigative Warrant Officer there and I was the OC of the Rifle Company. We got to serve over there for another three and a half months together. I take a lot of pride in that, it was really quite special.

“I’ve had a pretty varied career in service, just short of 18 years. I started out as a private soldier and then I went to the Royal Military College and then joined the seventh battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.

“I did some other odd jobs here and there then came back and served as an Officer Commanding and Major in charge of about 120 other people. Then I served at the war college before being medically retired.

“I’ve been coming to the Dawn Service since I can remember. Dad used to drag me along when I was little and I had no idea what they were when I was a little kid and I just knew it was a special occasion.

“Since then, I now remember mates who have moved on and I like to remember the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice some days like today and really commemorate their service.”

Hundreds of Yass residents lined Comur Street to get a glimpse of the ANZAC Day march and morning service at the Memorial Hall. 

At 10:50am, the Gallipoli Company Royal Military College Catafalque Party mounted, before Master of Ceremonies, Yass RSL Sub-Branch Secretary, Alvaro Charry, commenced proceedings at 11am.

Yass RSL Sub Branch Secretary Al Charry beginning proceedings

Yass RSL Sub-Branch President, Luke Hagerty, officially welcomed the crowd before four prayers were read from various members of the town. 

Lilly Chatwin from Yass Scouts read out the ‘Prayer for Peace’, Chaplain Steve Neuhaus RFD, Command Chaplain, 2nd Division, Australian Army, and Yass RSL Sub-Branch Member read out ‘A Prayer for Those Who Suffer Because of War’, Cath Neuhaus, Australian Army and Yass RSL Sub-Branch Treasurer read out ‘For Those Who Currently Serve’, and Yass High School Captains, Mark Box and Mackenzie Ironside read out the ‘Prayer of Remembrance’.

Chaplain Steve Neuhaus

Yass High School’s Ella-Rose Bywater sung the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, before Captain Natasha James Officer Commanding, Gallipoli Company, Royal Military College-Duntroon read ‘The Commemoration’.

The Laying of the Wreaths procession then followed, with special guests and residents around town invited to step forward to the cenotaph.

Yass RSL Sub-Branch President Hagerty read out ‘The Ode’.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning; 

We will remember them.”

The Last Post was played by Bugler Edward Alley, before a minute’s silence was respected, and the Rouse was played. Chaplain Neuhaus then provided a benediction to the crowd.

Bugler Edward Alley

The Australian National Anthem was performed by Ella-Rose Bywater of Yass High School, and the New Zealand National Anthem was performed by Jason Green of Yass High School, both accompanied by Jacquie Hansson.

The Catafalque Party then dismounted, before the ANZAC Day service concluded.

Lest We Forget.

Photo at top: Dawn service Yass, Second class Warrant Officer Tony Hagerty with son Major Luke Hagerty, President Yass RSL sub-branch, Photo credit Jasmin Jones

Tim Warren & Jasmin Jones