23 April 2024

Anzac Day preparations finalised with large numbers expected at commemorations across the Riverina

| Chris Roe
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Anzac Day ceremony rehearsal

The catafalque party from Kapooka’s 1st Recruit Training Battalion rehearses for the Anzac Day service in Wagga Wagga. Photos: Chris Roe.

Rehearsals are complete and the stage is set for Anzac Day commemorations across the Riverina on Thursday.

A catafalque party comprising soldiers from Kapooka’s 1st Recruit Training Battalion went through its rehearsals at the Victory Memorial Gardens on Tuesday (23 April) and RSL Sub-branch president Rod Cooper said it was a privilege to mark the day in Wagga Wagga.

“It’s a combination of a lot of hard work, and a lot of worries by many people from within the RSL sub-branch, from Kapooka, from the RAAF base, from businesses in town and the council and the way they present the gardens,” he said.

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“Living in a garrison city like this, with all three services represented and having the support of the command change at both the RAAF Base and Kapooka, is just a blessing.

“It’s a bit hard to imagine that the navy is here, but they do their technical training out here at Wagga and, of course, we do have a lake,” Mr Cooper added with a wink.

Anzac Day parade

A huge crowd is again expected for the Anzac Day parade in 2024.

In 2023, Royal Australian Navy Commodore Darron Kavanagh delivered the keynote address at the Wagga cenotaph and summed up the occasion.

“Anzac Day commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April, 1915,” he said.

“We gather as always, not to glorify war, but to remind ourselves that we value who we are and the freedoms we possess; and to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who contributed to shaping the identity of our nation, and those that continue to serve.”

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While the numbers of World War II veterans have dwindled, Mr Cooper said a veteran RAAF navigator would once again be on his feet for the march.

“Bert Adams is a 100-year-old World War II veteran and he will be marching again in Wagga,” he confirmed.

The Kooringal centenarian remains spritely and continues to play golf every week. Mr Adams completed a tour of operations as a navigator with 467 Squadron, flying operations in Lancaster bombers.

“We also have our Korea veterans, our Vietnam veterans, our National Service, and those men and women that served in the Middle East area of operation,” Mr Cooper said.

“They’re the most current veterans. They’re the ones that have served in a theatre that we’ve not seen the likes of before, in Afghanistan and Iraq and all those disaster relief and peacekeeping operations in between as well.

“For the first time, all our life members are marching and they’re carrying the eternal flame.”

RSL Sub-branch official

Wagga Wagga RSL Sub-branch president Rod Cooper.

He said things were shaping up well for the day and he was expecting Wagga to turn out in force for the commemorations.

“It’s a great city in terms of its military history, and the people show that by their physical support and their support of our fundraising,” he said.

“Their generosity and their willingness to get involved and to purchase memorabilia to commemorate the day is wonderful.”

You can find the details of your local march and Anzac Day events through the RSL website.

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