AN RSL leader will reflect on the suffering a Bendigo war veteran tried to ease at an Anzac Day service on Monday.
Peter Swandale has been reading the sometimes harrowing diary of George Thomas, who was captured by Japanese forces 80 years ago during the fall of Singapore.
What has struck him most is the suffering Thomas witnessed at the Changi prisoner of war camp in the dying days of World War Two.
"There was not enough food," Mr Swandale said.
"At the end, he writes about 1400 soldiers who were very sick. The average was four deaths a day at that time."
Thomas was luckier than some prisoners captured during Singapore's defeat.
He was able to avoid the worst of conditions until late 1944 when the tide of the war had turned against Japan.
Other Anzacs were forced to build the Burma-Thailand Railway railway under appalling conditions, and only six of 1787 Australians survived the atrocities of the Sandakan death marches.
Mr Swandale often uses his Anzac addresses to highlight human experiences.
"I try and tell a story to help Bendigo people understand what was happening at that time," he said.
"It's important to remember them, and it's education for the younger generations as well."
Thomas survived his time in captivity and was discharged from the army after the war.
His experiences will be among many at the top of people's minds when they gather for Monday services.
Mr Swandale is looking forward to welcoming back many of the unvaccinated veterans who the state government has barred from many events during the pandemic.
RSLs have been supporting them throughout the health crisis but there is nothing like face-to-face engagement.
"We've been waiting for this moment when all veterans can come together," Mr Swandale said.
Bendigo dawn service: 5.30am at the Bendigo Soldiers Memorial Institute, Pall Mall.
Bendigo march and commemorative service: 10.30am march from the corner of Chapel Street and the Midland Highway, 11am service in Pall Mall.
Kangaroo Flat dawn service: 6.30am at the Kangaroo Flat soldiers memorial, 175 High Street.
Kangaroo Flat commemorative service: 8.45am for a 9am start at the Kangaroo Flat memorial.
Eaglehawk dawn service: 5.30am for 6am start at Eaglehawk Town Hall memorial on Sailors Gully Road.
Eaglehawk commemorative service: 8am for a 8.30am start at Eaglehawk Town Hall memorial.
For a full list of central Victorian services, click here.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.