Communities around Australia gathered to attend services that marked the centenary of the armistice that finally ended the fighting of the First World War on Sunday, 11 November. It was a conflict which changed our nation forever. From a population of under five million, 420,000 Australians enlisted, and over 61,000 paid the ultimate sacrifice. Over one single 24-hour period at Fromelles, there were over 5,500 Australian casualties. Mothers and fathers lost sons, wives lost husbands and children lost fathers. When the town bells rang out a century ago, there was no doubt joy and relief that the war was over, but there was also immense sorrow and grief. The men and women who served and sacrificed for Australia asked of future generations only one thing: that we remember them.
At Remembrance Day services this year, communities across the electorate of Calare came out in large numbers to fulfil that sacred commitment. At Kandos, 150 community members gathered at the memorial wall to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, which was organised by members of the RSL, including President John Taylor, Vice-president Glen Evans and the secretary and treasurer, Ken Bevitt, along with World War II veterans Lance Ford and Val Wade.
A special feature of this year's service was the 2,501 knitted and crocheted poppies and homemade Anzac biscuits made by local women in the community, including Jan Baillie, Pauline Brooks, Marilyn Comer, Joyce Doble, Regina Dinten, Julie Denton, Lynette Edwards, Gwen English, Yukiko Evans, Rose Evans, Elizabeth Gardiner, Joan George, Catherine Gleeson, Pat Glover, Chris Hassell, Val Herbert, Elaine Hegarty, Carol Hayward, Denise Jamieson, Marsha James, Judy James, Sharyn Joyce, Jean Lloyd, Leonie McKenna, Sandra McIntosh, Carol Morrissey, Jo Maher, Joy Murray, Barbara Murray, Barbara Martin, Wendy Rodda, Ellen Riley, Joan Schultz, Mary Smith, Lyn Taylor, Mona Timson, Doreen Wurth, Bev Williams and Marjorie Windle. The poppies, which were made into banners and hung around the community hall, have since been donated to the Kandos and Rylstone museums.
In addition to the poppies, 100 wire crosses were installed, representing local servicemen. These crosses were available for purchase, with funds raised going to Soldier On. In Wellington, there were 200 in attendance, or even more, at a service that featured performances by the Wellington Town Band and local a cappella group Stray Notes, led by Ross Godfrey. I would like to make mention of the hardworking Wellington RSL sub-branch members, including President Roy Holmes, Secretary Peter Jarrett, Vice-President Beryl Althofer, Welfare Officer Rod Althofer, Treasurer Peter Duffy, and also committee members Peter Dowell, Aaron Edwards, Mark Inwood, Leslie Langbein, Chris Wykes, Ray Klein and Gary Francis.
In Gulgong, commemorations were held at Anzac Park, which features a new memorial, which the members have recently installed. Branch Secretary John Fielding made a number of trips to the battlefield in France and drew up the plans for the new memorial from the photos he took. The memorial is a scale replica of the memorial in France where the Armistice was signed. The new memorial is located on the eastern side of the rotunda and will be a focal point for future Remembrance Day commemorations. The Gulgong RSL branch received a $3,000 Armistice Centenary Grant to help with the new memorial. I note the members of the Gulgong RSL sub-branch all worked very hard for that service and for the unveiling of the memorial. I would like to mention President David Henderson, Treasurer Craig Holden and Senior Vice-President Peter Leotta. I also have to make mention of the late junior vice-president, and Gulgong's last World War II veteran, Les Monks. I attended the funeral of Les Monks in Gulgong last week. He will be greatly missed.
There was also a very strong turnout at Oberon's commemorations. Oberon RSL sub-branch President Bill Wilcox recited The Ode. He was ably supported in organising the commemorations by other RSL sub-branch members, including Secretary Neville Stapleton, Treasurer Don Stephens and Trustee Elaine Boxer. Following the service, local Oberon High School student Peta McGrath gave a presentation on her 12-day trip to the Western Front battlefields. I would like to pay tribute to all RSL members and community groups that organised services for Remembrance Day this year and also thank all community members who attended a service and fulfilled that sacred commitment to remember.