Thousands of South West residents rose early on Monday to commemorate those who served in war as part of this year’s Anzac Day commemorations. From dawn services put on by RSL sub-branches and local governments to parades that saw the whole town involved, the South Western Times looks at how the region embraced the memorial day. Bunbury In the early hours of Monday, hundreds of people gathered along the quiet streets of Bunbury as part of the city’s annual Anzac Day commemoration. Dawn Service goers lined Victoria and Stirling streets and watched and listened in the dark as the Bunbury RSL led the proceedings at the Bunbury War Memorial at Anzac Park. This was the first time in two years people had been allowed to commemorate the day and defence force members, veterans, cadets, politicians and key Bunbury figures were all in attendance at the service which began at 6am. Bunbury RSL president John Gelmi said during his address that Anzac Day was important to remember those people who had sacrificed so much in the service of their country. Mr Gelmi said the Anzac spirit was present in those who attended services across the country and around the world. The Bunbury RSL president also mentioned the people of Ukraine and said it was unfortunate people had not learnt about the suffering caused by war, while the Ukrainian flag was among those flying above the war memorial at Anzac Park. Busselton Hundreds of Busselton locals paid their respects on the morning of April 25, in what many described as “the biggest turnout in some time”. Commemorations began at first light with the annual dawn service, with Busselton RSL president Glenn Woodward calling it a “special and fresh event” despite being celebrated annually. “It’s the same Anzac Day, same place, same time but it’s different, but today will always be special,” he said. “Our mates across the ditch have endured with us many conflicts making us brothers and sisters for life.” Patrons then returned to the RSL for a gunfire breakfast before more families gathered to line the streets in honour of the Anzac Day town parade. There was a great sense of camaraderie and fellowship as locals young and old gathered at the memorial park for the main morning service, many laying wreaths to decorate the memorial and show their gratitude for the fallen. Dardanup Hundreds gathered at the upgraded Dardanup War Memorial near the town’s hall as the town held a dawn service and a morning service to commemorate Anzac Day. In a collaborative effort between the Shire of Dardanup and community members, the Dardanup War Memorial went through several upgrades last year to feature a new plaque to include nine names of Diggers that were discovered as previously missing and deserving of recognition, a new granite statue of a soldier, and paving that featured the words “Lest We Forget”. About 200 people attended the dawn service, which concluded with several Maori people giving a rousing impromptu performance of the Haka. Hundreds of people attended the morning service and stayed for a morning tea and sausage sizzle organised by the Dardanup Lions Club. During the morning service, attendees heard the heartwarming story of the friendship between World War I Digger Walter Marriner and Dardanup resident George Mountford in a postcard Marriner sent to Mr Mountford while serving in Egypt. Dardanup Shire president Mick Bennett said he was impressed with the turnout for both ceremonies. “It was an excellent ceremony this morning with excellent attendance,” he said. “With the rebuild of the memorial, it’s just fantastic that it’s now finished off and it looks brilliant. “It’s a great occasion for our communities and our Shire.” Harvey Harvey was filled with the sombre tones of The Last Post on April 25 as residents gathered at local war memorials in commemoration of Anzac Day. Harvey’s dawn service was opened by a pink sunrise and included speeches from RSL members, pastors and community leaders. As is tradition the Australian, New Zealand, West Australian and — for the first time — Aboriginal flags were raised to each of their associated anthems, with the introduction of the didgeridoo for this year’s service. The service was then followed by the playing of The Last Post, as well as the laying of wreaths by those remembering their loved ones. Later in the day Uduc Road was the site of Harvey’s Anzac Day parade which saw droves of community groups and Harvey RSL members, ending with the town’s main service at the Harvey War Memorial. Margaret River More than 500 people packed Margaret River’s Memorial Park for the dawn service, with a strong turnout to the main parade just before midday. The Margaret River Returned and Services League memorial featured local veterans as well as teams from the State Emergency Service, St John WA, the Margaret River Senior High School emergency service cadets and others, including the local re-enactment company honouring Australia’s Light Horse division. Also making the trek to Margaret River this year were 24 Vietnam veterans from 5th Battalion’s Bravo Company, who chose the region for their reunion and to commemorate Anzac Day. Organiser Bill Sanday told the Times the men served in the Vietnam conflict from 1969-70. They chose Margaret River for their biennial reunion as a chance to sightsee the famous region and also fly their company banner in WA. Margaret River police Sergeant Simone Taplin led this year’s keynote address. Sgt Taplin said Anzac Day was a chance to honour past sacrifices and to acknowledge the mental toll on veterans. “Our soldiers who returned found the world to be different, leaving many with mental scars and not just physical ones,” she said, “with wounds we did not know how to heal or treat, and resulting in decades of residual trauma for them and for their families. “It is with this we remember the tragedy that war can cause and have grown as a community to provide support and care to one another. “In the darkest days, there is always a glimmer of light found in the mateship, camaraderie and loyalty. This at its very core is the essence of what it means to be Australian.” Anzac Day commemorations were also held in Augusta, with this year’s service reduced because of COVID-19 restrictions. In Margaret River, residents enjoyed a gunfire breakfast at the District Club and played two-up after the 11.30am service. Manjimup To commemorate Anzac Day, more than 200 people packed the intersection of Brockman and Giblett streets to pay homage and remember the sacrifices of local servicemen and women in conflicts past. Both the dawn service and parade service were led by Manjimup Returned and Services League president Wayne Hughes, who opened the day with a speech about the history of the Gallipoli campaign from WWI and the importance of the Anzac legend in Australian society. Manjimup RSL club secretary Ted Middleton also gave a speech on the Kokoda Trail campaign from the Second World War as this year marks the 80th anniversary of the bloody campaign in which thousands of Australians perished not only in the fighting but as Japanese prisoners-of-war after being captured. “What else can we say except lest we forget,” Mr Middleton said in closing his speech. After The Last Post and Reveille sounded and the service ended the big crowd gathered back at the RSL hall to take part in a morning tea after the gun fire breakfast was cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions. Also in attendance was local WWII veteran Thomas Muir who will celebrate his 100th birthday in September. Collie The Collie-Cardiff RSL president made the tough call of keeping this year’s Anzac Day services to members only, drawing crowds of about 50 people to the dawn and morning services. Sub-branch president Gary Benton also said his decision had drawn wide criticism, but felt the high case numbers still being recorded in WA had forced his hand to protect the group’s veterans. “If some of my older members got COVID and got seriously ill, I would have been pretty upset about it,” Mr Benton said. “We commemorated the day the best way we can under the circumstances.” In his address at the morning service, Mr Benton spoke of how hard today was for many veterans, who were keenly feeling the impacts of the war Russia was currently waging in Ukraine. “Those that we commemorate here today would be disgusted that their sacrifice had been trodden into the mire of dishonesty and greed. And that the lessons they thought — freedom and democracy — were worth fighting and even dying for, are again not being listened to,” he said. Capel Hundreds of Capel residents gathered to pay their respects at the Capel RSL’s Anzac Day dawn service which kicked off with a stunning sunrise at 6am at Peppermint Grove Beach. Many residents also attended the shire’s new tradition of the Dawn Driveway Service at home, as they commemorated the efforts made by Australia’s veterans. At 11am, more than 200 residents of the Capel community gathered for the Anzac Day services at Boyanup Memorial Park preceded with a march down Forrest Road to the Capel RSL Hall. Capel veteran Geoff Box addressed the Boyanup service, speaking of his time serving in Vietnam and the struggles that have followed him since. Freeman of the Shire of Capel and former Shire president Murray Scott told the story of a recent plaque placed in Kings Park of a local trooper who served at Gallipoli, and whose portrait was painted by local artist Nancy Davey. Shire president Doug Kitchen said it was great to see so many new and old shire residents coming to the service. “It was great to see so much of our community attending the local services to paying their respects and reflect on the significance of the day to them,” he said.