In September 2015, 57 Club representatives participated in the ANZAC Commemoration Tour of Gallipoli and the Western Front, representing all RSL & Services Clubs in NSW. In this year of the Centenary of ANZAC, the trip was a very special opportunity for Clubs to show their respect for the tens of thousands of young Australians who gave their lives in World War I, fighting for peace, democracy and freedom, the core values of our nation and its people.
The journey took the delegation to the battlefields, cemeteries and Memorials across the Gallipoli Peninsula and through Belgium and France along the Western Front of WWI. We held special Memorial Services at both the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli and at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, singing the National Anthem, laying wreaths, playing “The Last Post” and reciting “The Ode”. They were very moving and emotional occasions, for many people in the delegation had family members who had served, and in most instances, given their lives, at these sites, during the many fierce battles in which our Aussie soldiers fought for more than four years.
One lasting memory for all of us on this special tour was the continuing great respect and attention that the graves, the memorials and the other places of importance in the various battles, are provided. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as the people of Turkey, Belgium and France, still honour these men’s sacrifice and bravery and their contribution to the war is never forgotten. The graves are beautifully preserved, and reverently cleaned and maintained by local staff engaged by the War Graves Commission.
The RSL & Services Clubs Association believes that this tour was so successful and so special that we intend to organize similar trips every two years for other Club Directors, staff and club members to have the opportunity to honour these brave men. Further information will be provided once plans are finalized.