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QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA Wednesday 25th April 2007

 

[Reporter: Gerry PECK 53A]

 

ANZAC Day in Toowoomba

 

ANZAC Day.

Blazer and accoutrements all sorted, shoes gleaming with a Guards style finish, I readied the car for a journey to Toowoomba and the annual event of marching the parade route with my mates George and Reg, a small but very proud Arborfield Army Apprentices School contingent amongst a very large assembly of marchers. Maggie and I were ready for the off at 06.30, right on the button.

The weather promised to be fine until late afternoon up on the ranges where Toowoomba is situated and the March was scheduled to set off from the assembly point at 10.00 hrs sharp.

The journey up was a breeze, very light traffic on the Warrego Highway and the car tootled along with the cruise control set at the speed limit of 100 KPH. There are a few places along the way where the 80 KPH limit applies but we know the route like the back of our hands and re-set the CC as we approached the warning signs. A couple of radar traps were noticed along the way but thanks to the CC, we were in no danger of tripping one of those.

We hit a patch of fog (low cloud) at the very top of the range on the outskirts of Toowoomba, a quick loo halt at Queens park and then we drove on the last three kilometres to George and Marion Millie's place, arriving
there at 08.00 hrs. Total journey is 131 kilometres, so that wasn't bad at all.

George's grandson Aaron was marching with us, on behalf of and representing no less than ten members of the Dark Family that served in the great or second World wars, Dark is Aarons patronym. I always suspected that George had a dark side. ;)

All kitted up, we drove down to the end of Queen's park and parked the car, the ladies and George's son Andrew ( as escort) were going down by taxi. Because the roads are closed for the march, we had to set off and walk the whole route to get to the assembly point, meeting Marion, Maggie and Andrew on the way, as the taxi had dropped them off by one of the blocked off side roads further down the route.

Once at the assembly point, George went off to try and locate Reg Harper, who had not been sure of his ability to make the march this year due to very bad problems with his prosthesis. Reg had decided to chance his leg and do the march and was having a cup of coffee in a favoured watering hole of ours when George located him.

Normally, the BESA (British Ex Servicemans Association) are the tail enders of the veterans portion of the parade and form up very near the cafe where Reg had his coffee. This year though, BESA was given the honour of carrying the torch of remembrance and thus were the first unit in order of march.

With fine weather, plus some relief from the sun by way of slowly gathering clouds and a blessed cooling breeze, we set off on the mile long route to the Toowoomba Cenotaph. The way was crowded, as it always is, by large numbers of very enthusiastic onlookers. These crowds lined every metre of the kerbsides as we marched to the tunes of 'Waltzing Matilda', 'The road to Gundagai' and other familiar and long revered Australian tunes.

The densest crowd is always near the entry to the parkland in which the Cenotaph is located, as almost all of the people who turn out to watch also stay for the ceremonies. Once safely on station around the Cenotaph, bottles of water were issued to every manjack of us and much appreciated too.

The ceremonies were carried out with military precision, thanks to the presence of Australian regular forces from the nearby Army Aviation centre at Oakey and elsewhere, Oakey also provided a flypast by two Harvard trainers and two helicopters. Always involved as participants, are the cadet branches of the three Services too and their drill was exemplary as they performed several of the duties embedded in the ceremonies.

Representatives of every walk of life and people of all ages are part and parcel of the ANZAC ceremonies and the presence and enthusiasm of youngsters right down to cub scouts and guides is a vibrant part of what goes on. The whole community is involved and devoted to the day. I cannot speak too highly of the commitment, involvement and dedication of the entire community of Toowoomba.

The colours, the emotion, the pageantry and spirit of comradeship is superlative, second to none in my opinion and to share such an occasion with truly precious mates from my old Alma Mater, is a priceless joy to me. One that I wouldn't miss for quids. Memories were evoked of Roy Ashman, Bob Langley and Cliff Charlesworth, who have attended or marched with us on occasions past

It is thanks entirely to the existence of a forum for the AOBA, that I am there to attend this magnificent event, shared as the experience is with people ( the closest of friends ) that have come to mean so much to me. For without it I would never have known that there were others of my ilk living close enough to me for contact to be made and maintained.

To that end, I am delighted to see it flourishing and being appreciated by all who utilise it.

I should add that the latter part of the day was highlighted by an excellent meal and good quality wines, all due to the good offices of the Lamont family, friends of George and Marion since their shared time in Singapore. Robin and Jeanette's son David promised us a superlative meal at his establishment and he delivered. Then a couple of hours spent at chez Millie to swing the lantern and relax, rounded off the day very nicely indeed. 

 

Anzac 07-2w

George Millie Greg Peck Reg Harper

 

A much wider selection of photos of the 2007 Toowoomba ANZAC DAY celebrations can be found at:

 

http://www.pbase.com/arev/anzac_day_2007

 

Click on slideshow at the top right hand corner of the screen.

 

This link takes you to a dedicated web site established by Vera Harper and we appreciate access to it.

 

 

Published: 1st May 2007


 

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