Turnout speaks volumes at Bendigo commemorative service

THERE were so many people marching at yesterday’s 11am Anzac Day Commemorative Service that there was hardly any room in front of Bendigo’s RSL Memorial Hall to accommodate them.

And that is a good problem to have, Bendigo District RSL sub-branch president Cliff Richards said.

Pall Mall was lined with families and members of the community holding Australian flags, each who had their own connection and reason for paying their respects to those who fought for Australia.

Ex-servicemen and women and families from conflicts such as World War II, Vietnam, Borneo, Malaya, Afghanistan and Iraq marched to the applause of the crowd.

Seven cars carrying seven World War II diggers, including 101-year-old Arthur Hibbert, completed the march.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College students Alex Morton and Nakita Landry presented readings, and Captain Craig Powell from the Royal Australian Navy gave the special address.

Captain Powell has had two postings aboard HMAS Bendigo and spoke about the role the Navy played in the lead-up to the famous World War I battle at Gallipoli.

Mr Richards estimated yesterday’s service was the biggest on record, following on from an excellent turnout to the dawn service.

He said the amount of wreaths placed on the shrine was a tribute to the importance of the day.

“The enormous number of wreaths is a sign of the respect people here have for our servicemen and women,” he said. “I am so proud.”

He said diggers at the march placed an incredible amount of importance on the day. 

“I know there are ex-servicewomen here who struggle to get here, but they assured me they will make it, and they marched.”

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