[Editor: This article about Anzac Day was published in The Southern Mail (Bowral, NSW), 30 April 1926.]
An eloquent tribute to the noble dead.
Anzac ideals in times of peace.
The Empire Theatre, Bowral, was crowded on Anzac Day, when a united religious service was held to commemorate The Landing.
It had been preceded by the ceremony of breaking the flag at the Soldier’s Memorial, which was covered by beautiful wreaths and other floral tributes to those who had made the supreme sacrifice.
Mr. H. Sheaffe, Deputy Mayor, presided and read an apology from Rev. J. M. Cusack, who was conducting a service elsewhere. In opening the proceedings he said they were met to commemorate the sacrifice of the illustrious dead, who had given their lives for a great ideal and the bravery of their comrades who had been prepared to make that sacrifice, but happily had been spared to return to Australia. He called for a minute’s silence in memory of the dead.
During the afternoon appropriate hymns were sung, scripture was read by Rev. T. Distin Morgan, and prayer was offered by Ensign Meredith.
The principal address was delivered by Chaplain Dains, our new Methodist Minister, who saw service with the A.I.F. He took for his text this passage from Joshua … your children shall ask their fathers in time to come “What mean these stones?”
The cairn of stones marked the deliverance of that people. They had passed from insecurity to nationhood and the cairn had been erected not so much for the generation that then existed but to remind generations to come of the valor and sacrifice which had won their freedom. The Commonwealth was at such a point in these days. Australia found her freedom when she took part in the war. We were a pacific people following the arts of peace but when the call came we recognised that we were an integral part of the British Empire and that our destiny was bound up in that of that Empire. There were those who thought Australia should be defended only on Australian soil, but it was soon found that her first line of defence was on the shores of Gallipoli. It was good to recount the history of the stones that marked the sacrifices of our people on that historic spot. They were called upon that day to turn aside from their normal tasks and see how great men laid down their lives for freedom — how they made good against the great Apollyon of Europe. They had proved that a free people actuated by the highest ideals of service, could prevail against the greatest army in the world when inspired by great principles and noble traditions. The Anzacs had saved imperishable things out of the war. They had exhibited the great qualities of unity and manhood. The war did not make those qualities. They were latent in our people and were brought conspicuously to light against the black background of war. They could trust the Australian youth when they grew up to build this country in the spirit of those who achieved our freedom in the dark days of Gallipoli and the darker days that followed. In this spirit they recalled the story of Gallipoli. Mr. Dains drew an eloquent word-picture of The Landing, depicting the charges of the troops, their sufferings in the bitter winter and the glory of their ultimate retreat. They now knew that Galipoll had been a tactical blunder — its one redeeming feature the splendid spirit and devotion of the troops that challenged the unspeakable Turk. Their leaving of Gallipoli was as wonderful as their coming. They outwitted the Turk and silently dipped away to register on other battlefields in other lands the same heroism and devotion to principle they had displayed in their baptism of fire at Gallipoli. The Australians became a terror to the pick of the Prussian soldiers. All future generations of Australians would tell the story of Gallipoli but it had been enhanced by the valor and determination of our troops in France and Palestine. Anzac gathered up and was a memorial to all that was done for Australia by her gallant men on all the battlefields of the Great War. What they did they did not only to make Australia free but for the British Empire and the freedom of the world. Our Aussie boys should know that those who went to fight were a type of the Australian people. They must strive to be strong and good and pure and keep their country great and prosperous and free as these men died to make it great and prosperous and free. He made an appeal to them to enlist under the banner of the greatest Captain of all — the Lord Jesus Christ. God give them courage to live in these drab days as the men of Anzac, living as chivalrously and dying as nobly.
Major Dally Watkins said succeeding years brought more intense manifestations of love and respect for their departed comrades. They did not wish to glorify war — they hated it — but they paid honor to those who had made the supreme sacrifice. No matter what sacrifices a man made during his life the greatest sacrifice of all was to give up one’s life for a cause. The spirit of their meeting that day was breathed in some verses of Emily Bulcock:—
The year has many days when love and duty
Unite to stir us with their trumpet call:
But April brings one day of changeless beauty
That holds all hearts in thrall.
Cease for a while all petty aims and scheming,
Let commerce draw with dusty cloak aside,
While the nation gives itself to dreaming,
Remembering those who died.
Above the clamour of our harsh self-seeking,
Wrangles of creed or party, strangely stirred,
Still let us hear the voice of Anzac speaking,
Till no false note be heard.
They had won the war, but he sometimes asked himself had they won the peace. The Major referred to recent happenings in Europe and expressed his fear that Italy might prevent the early realisation of that world peace they all so earnestly desired. As to their own country he hoped the lessons learned in the war would ultimately be applied to commerce and their relations with their fellow men. The spirit of to-day seemed to be to grasp everything for oneself. In the trenches there had been unselfishness, comradeship, and the desire to help one another. It was when men learned to make sacrifices for others that they attained real manhood, for “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
The Benediction was pronounced by Ensign Meredith and the Last Post was sounded by Mr. McNally.
The Secretary (Mr. R. A. Porter) and the officials of the League are to be complimented upon the perfection of the arrangements.
The Southern Mail (Bowral, NSW), 30 April 1926, p. 2
A.I.F. = Australian Imperial Force; the First Australian Imperial Force was created in 1914 to fight in World War One, the Second Australian Imperial Force was created in 1939 to fight in World War Two
the Great War = the First World War (1914-1918), also known as World War One
[Editor: Changed “minutes” to “minute’s”, “conspicously” to “conspicuously”, “the hated it” to “they hated it”.]