Ivan Gillies and Graham Hardwick at the Muckadilla dawn service.
Ivan Gillies and Graham Hardwick at the Muckadilla dawn service. Alexia Austin

Lest we forget our Maranoa soldiers

A THRONG filled the street at Roma's cenotaph Thursday morning, gathering in the darkness to pay their respects to Australia's fallen.

The 4.15am start added to the solemnity - corresponding to the timing of the first Gallipoli landing on April 25, 1915.

More than 500 people attended the service, with guests invited to a pre-dawn breakfast at the close of the ceremony.

A number of residents continued on to the Muckadilla dawn service, held at the Muckadilla cenotaph, as the sun rose.

The Anzac Day commemorations continued late into the afternoon in Roma, with families lining the Avenue of Honour for the Anzac Day parade of service personnel, community groups and a marching band.

The march concluded with a mid-morning ceremony, chaired by Bryce Duke.

Roma RSL Sub-branch president George Mehay gave a speech during the service on the Battle of Bullecourt, one of the deadliest battles of World War I.

At first a success, unexpected issues with defence lead to 3300 allied casualties in the French village of Bullecourt, with 1170 Australians taken prisoner - the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.

The Battle of Bullecourt is a tale close to Mr Mehay's heart.

"My father was born and raised 10km from Bullecourt and that is where he was during the first world war - he was 13 years old,” he said.

"During this time the Australian Army fed him and his family.

"The conditions were very bad at the time, people were starving. If it weren't for the (contribution) of the Australian Army, I don't think I would be here today.

"Even now in the north of France, they have so much respect for the Australian soldiers and what they did, many towns have Australian murals and memorabilia displayed to this day.

"Gallipoli is well known for its large loss of life. However Bullecourt was the largest loss of captured soldiers during World War I,” he said.

"It isn't often mentioned and I wanted to bring more attention to this part of the war - people need to know.”

Mr Mehay said the Roma Anzac Day celebrations had run smoothly.

"We had a good number at the dawn service - I think the numbers are really coming up,” he said.

"And then for the mid- morning service, we had great attendance, probably around 800-1000 people.

"We are now preparing for November 11, which will be big this year, as it marks 100 years since the end of the hostilities of WWI.”

After the hymns and odes were read, Mr Duke rounded off Roma's noon ceremony with a poignant quote:

"(Today) is a timely reminder that all gave some, some gave all and some are still giving.”


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