Record crowds enjoy hot breakfast before Two Up

Mayor Lisa Lake (centre) and councillors Diane Colman and Suman Saha at the Merrylands service.

THEY came in their thousands to pay their respects at a range of services in the lead up to and on ANZAC Day itself last Thursday.

Federal MP for Reid Sally Sitou with 104-year-old Bruce Robertson, a veteran wireless operator in the RAAF, at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway.

After laying wreaths at memorials large and small last Tuesday, including at Clyde Railway Workshops War Memorial and Melville Park bridge in Homebush West, Cumberland RSL Sub-branch President Matt Jones said he was delighted at the number of students from Lidcombe Public taking part in the ANZAC-Kapyong Commemorative Service at Lidcombe Remembrance Park on Wednesday.
“Under the leadership of school principal Matt Lewis, the school captains each spoke and others recited poetry,” he said.
This was followed by ANZAC Day dawn services at Auburn and Granville, a wreath laying at Lidcombe Remembrance Park at 6.30am and at 1pm at the Regent Street Pavilion memorial held in partnership with Heartbeat Church.
Auburn local Captain Mikail Ozdemir gave the address at Auburn on behalf of the Australian Defence Force, along with former army officer Rodger Shanahan who is now a leading academic in Islamic studies.
Matt said both addresses were very powerful and inspiring.
“Rodger spoke about the importance of simplicity when Australians come together to remember the ANZACs,” he said.
“He picked up on the quote ‘let silent contemplation be your offering’.
“However what was significant this year was the large number of young people in attendance at our services and reflecting on what the day meant to them.
“But the meaning today is the same as it ever was, such as how historian Charles Bean described it ‘wreckless valour in a good cause, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat’.”
Matt said he was excited to build on the interest among the younger generation and in 2025, plans to have dawn services at all memorials.
Feeding a hot breakfast to over 800 at Merrylands RSL, the club’s Jane Smith said there were even more at Charles Mance Reserve for the dawn service.
“Over 2,000 turned out to hear inspiring addresses from Wendy Hudson, daughter of famous Merrylands digger Wilbert ‘Darky’ Hudson, who was awarded the Military Medal for shooting down a Japanese plane in the attack on Darwin, and Charles Mance’s grand-daughter, Eva, 8, who spoke about his heroism in WW2,” she said.
“ANZAC Day was the perfect opportunity to honour our local legends, catch up with old friends over breakfast and enjoy a game of Two Up in the afternoon.”
Attending three of the services, Mayor Lisa Lake said she felt very fortunate to be a part of such unifying events.
“It was a great morning across Cumberland as the many services brought together our local people to remember, honour and show gratitude for the service of Australia’s young men and women in past conflicts,” she said.