About fifty people attended the inaugural Greta Cemetery ANZAC Ceremony held on 23 April 2019. The Ceremony was a joint project of the Greta Cemetery Trust, Greta Hansonville Hall, and the Greta Valley Primary School.
In the weeks leading up to the Service, the students, assisted by their teachers researched a Soldier and prepared a piece of work to read out on the day. The research, including photos, which had been compiled by the Greta Heritage Group was made available to assist them.
A flag pole was erected in a temporary position inside the gate of the Cemetery, with the intention of t being a permanent fixture by 2020. As guests arrived they opened the Cemetery gates which had crocheted poppies attached – one for each Veteran honoured.
Noeleen Lloyd led the Service, assisted by Adrian Younger. The Years Four, Five, and Six students were the ‘guest speakers’ and led the guests to each grave, where they placed a flag, poppy and told the story of the Veteran’s life. The students left their work on the grave so that people visiting over the ANZAC weekend would be able to read them.
Those honoured included Veterans who served in the Boer War, WW1, WW2, and the Women’s Land Army. Some are not buried in the Greta Cemetery, however they are remembered on family headstones. William Petty died of disease in Pretoria during the Boer War; the community raised funds to erect a monument to his memory just inside the gates. John and Louis Legg (WW1) are not buried in the Cemetery, but are named on the Legg family grave.
All other Veterans are buried in the Cemetery and they include, Hector Sinclair (Boer War), Hugh and Joseph Delaney (WW1), Albert Grass (WW1), Robert John McMonigle (WW1), John and Margaret Dinning (WW2) and Eric Graham (WW2). The theme for the day centred on remembering that the ideals that were held dear by those who left to fight, are just as relevant in our Community today.
The Service was attended by Tim McCurdy, Member for Ovens, Councillor Harry Bussell, first generation descendants, families, and members of the Community. The Ode was read by one of the Grade 6 students. Floral tributes were laid, the Last Post was played. The students led the singing of the National Anthem. The Australian Flag was raised.
Everyone was then invited back to the Greta Hansonville Hall for morning tea. The flags, poppies, and biographies of the Veterans remained in place until after ANZAC Day. It is planned that this will be the first of many such days.
Opening Speech by Noeleen Lloyd
I’d like to start by welcoming you all, Tim McCurdy – Member for Ovens, Counsellor Harry Bussell, Descendants and families of those who have served, any current and ex-servicemen and women, ladies, and gentlemen, boys, and girls. It gives me great pleasure to see you all gathered here today, our first ANZAC Ceremony at the Greta Cemetery.
Today is about remembering our community, and the ideals we hold dear, two of the very things that our men and women fought so hard for. Ideals are what make us who we are, they are the reason we teach our children to be the best that they can be – that they can be whoever they want to be. Those ideals, the need to serve one’s country, to do the right thing and to look out for your mate – they are just as relevant today as they were over one hundred years ago. They haven’t changed throughout the passing of the years that has seen the residents of this district serve in all theatres of war – all major conflicts, all major battles, including peacekeeping duties.
Almost one hundred years ago, on April 25th, 1919, London had a massive parade of ANZAC troops. Infantrymen of the Australian 5th Division marched past the Mansion House, where the salute was taken by the Prince of Wales, Field Marshal Haig, and the then Australian Prime Minister, Mr Hughes. There was enormous excitement and spectators climbed up the trees to get a better look at the passing troops, led by a band. War was over – it was time to go home. Those who had survived the horror of the Great War, came home. They picked up their lives, they ‘got on with it’. They could not know that less than twenty years later, their sons and daughters would again be called upon, or that we would still have a need for a Defence Force today.
Today we honour not just the World War One veterans who are buried in this cemetery, but also those who served in the Boer War, and World War Two. We remember their sacrifices, and those of the family that they left behind. We also remember those from this district who do not lay here – but in cemeteries all over this nation, and around the world. Most importantly, we remember those who left this district, and who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They lay, forever, in Egypt, France, and Belgium.
No one is forgotten.
Today, our way of honouring those who lay here, is to take you on a journey to get to know them. If you’d like to follow me and the students of the Greta Valley Primary School, we are going to place a flag and poppy at each grave. When we return there will be an opportunity to lay your floral tributes.
- Laying of Wreaths
- Tim and Harry
- The Ode – Greta Valley Primary School
- Lat Post and Reveille
- National Anthem
This concludes the formal part of our ceremony. On behalf of the Greta Cemetery Trust and the Greta Hansonville Hall, I’d like to thank everyone for attending and invite you all back to the Hall for a cup of tea – and I believe a scone or two.
Images: Courtesy of Noeleen Lloyd, and Howard Gibson.