Commemorative ceremonies for the centenary of the Charge at Beersheba and Remembrance Day were conducted at the Lone Memorial, Piggott Park by the members of the Bellinger River RSL Sub Branch.
Poppies were handed to all in attendance at both services, due to the current ban instituted by State RSL Headquarters on fund raising through such avenues as the yearly poppy and badge selling.
Junior Vice President of the Sub Branch, Morrie Hamilton conducted a short respectful service and gave the address for the Remembrance Day Service on Saturday November 11. The service was well attended considering it was a weekend and the weather was threatening, with light rain falling at the commencement of the service.
A special inclusion in this year’s service was the dedication of a plaque in memory of local man Sergeant Matthew Locke, MG. October 25 marked 10 years since he was killed in Afghanistan.
The Reverend Zoe Everingham from St Margaret’s Anglican Church dedicated the plaque and spoke of the wonderful legacy Matthew has left behind due of the amount of charitable fundraising performed in his honour which supports worthy projects and groups within our community and in Timor Leste where Matthew also serviced while in the Army.
The plaque was then unveiled by the Reverend and Belinda Jolley, a sister of Matthew’s. Other members of Matthew’s family were also in attendance.
The Beersheba service was held on Tuesday October 31. Traditionally a small service is conducted at the Cenotaph in Hyde St. Due to the beautification works in the main street, the service was conducted at Piggott Park, and at 11am instead of the usual time of 4.30pm, which was the time that the Charge of Beersheba commenced on 31 October 1917.
The earlier start was to enable all pupils and staff of the Bellingen Public School, including the principal Graeme Ross, to attend.
Thank you to everyone who attended, including Sub branch and community members which included descendants of a Light Horseman who was killed in the charge; and the school students.
It was very pleasing to have the participation of the children. A large wreath created by the pupils was laid, and members from the school String Ensemble, under the leadership of Elizabeth Scott, played during the laying of wreathes.
The address was made by Kathy Mortimer who gave an interesting and informative speech about the politics and military strategy relating to the Charge, as well as the personal sacrifices made - telling of two local men who died at Beersheba and whose names appear in our Cenotaph.
She indicated the importance of younger generations continuing to honour those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and as they grow, to understand the past. It is those following, who will help keep our families and nation safe from the devastation of war.
Our thanks to the Bellingen Shire council who ensured the park was in readiness for our services, and for relocating the old flagpole from the Cenotaph to the Lone Pine site in time for our Remembrance Day commemoration.