Lusitania and Zayedan O’Leary-Facer at the dawn service in Ipswich.
Lusitania and Zayedan O’Leary-Facer at the dawn service in Ipswich.

Thousands honour Diggers' sacrifice

AGING men stood proudly, medals shining, a mother embraced her young daughter and close to 1000 people stood in silence as 15-year-old bugler Bryce Fuery played the Last Post.

It may have been 4.27am on a chilly April morning but this year, like so many in the past decade, hundreds of residents made the early morning pilgrimage to the Anzac Day dawn service outside the Soldiers Memorial Hall in Ipswich.

They watched as the Catafalque Party made up of members of the 224 Squadron Australian Air Force Cadets marched in to protect the memorial stone.

They sang together as Reverend Bob Walker led the crowd in the Anzac hymn Abide with Me.

And they bowed their heads and reflected on the sacrifice of generations of Australian servicemen and women as Ipswich RSL sub-branch president Phil Gilbert spoke of the staggering losses at Gallipoli 97 years before.

Among the crowd were Katrina and Josh Knight of Churchill, who have been attending the dawn service every year since moving to Ipswich five years ago.

This year, 8-year-old daughter Lily rubbed the sleep from her eyes to experience her first Anzac Day service. "We come to be part of the community," Mr Knight said.

"It is the one day of the year you can come together and show your support for our armed forces.

"It's important we include our kids so that they can understand the sacrifices that were made for them."

From a first timer to a veteran of 32 straight Ipswich dawn services, Brassall resident Matt Rennie enjoyed his annual morning of reflection.

After serving with the Australian armed forces in Korea and Malaya, Mr Rennie was buoyed by the ever increasing numbers at his local Anzac Day events.

"This crowd this morning is the biggest ever," Mr Rennie said.

"The first one I attended here, they did it inside.

"It's grown from about 30 people there in 1980 to what you see here today."

So does the commitment of young Australians to the Anzac memory make him proud?

"My word it does," he said.

"I think it is absolutely fantastic. There are more children here this year than ever.

"We get around to the schools and talk to the kids, so I think there is more awareness now.

"Also, people are aware we are coming up to a significant milestone of 100 years since Gallipoli."

As the service wound up before 5am, some headed back to the warmth of their beds, others to work, and just a few to the breakfast table for a sausage and maybe even a rum and milk, just like the Anzacs did.

By 10.30am hundreds of people, young and old, had lined Ellenborough St, waving Australian flags as the sound of bagpipes echoed through the Ipswich city heart.

A number Ipswich's veterans marched to Timothy Molony Park, while others were carried in Second World War vintage American military jeeps.

They were followed by men and women serving at Amberley RAAF base.

Two of the many Ipswich teenagers in attendance, 19-year-old Blaine Korhecz and his 15-year-old sister Nicole, said remembering the soldiers who fought in Australia's wars would always be important.

With Nicole carrying a photo of their great grandfather Dennis Herron and Blaine wearing his Second World War medals, the pair said Anzac Day was an opportunity to reflect on his sacrifice.

"It's a very important day for me," Blaine said.

"My great grandad Dennis Herron served in North Africa and New Guinea.

"He handed down his medals to me, so it means a lot to be able to recognise him and what he did for us."

Two Super Hornets from the

RAAF base flew low over the assembled crowd as the official ceremony began.

Airmen from the RAAF base were joined by members of the 9th Force Support Battalion, who were recognising their first Anzac Day since Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was killed serving in Afghanistan.

LCpl Jones' parents, Jennifer and David Jones, were special guests at the ceremony.

RAAF Wing Commander Terence Deeth said Anzac Day was not a time to glorify war, but to remember the sacrifice so many young Australians had made.

"On the 25th of April each year we are asked to remember those who fell for Australia," he said.

"But not to glamorise the battle or the wars in which they fought."

"We have much to be thankful for in Australia.

"For the past 60 years, our country has been free from conflict on our shores.

"In a troubled world our wide brown land fair glows with freedom and opportunity."

The ceremony concluded to the RAAF Amberley Pipes and Drums and the Ipswich RSL Youth Band performing Waltzing Matilda and Scotland the Brave, while the veterans walked away through the current soldiers.

Many veterans and servicemen and women then made their way across the river to the Ipswich RSL Services Club.

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