After the last few years of COVID restrictions, this year saw the return of the traditional Anzac Day march with no limits on either crowd or march numbers. Weather conditions were very mild which makes all the difference to participants, attendance numbers and overall attitude.
Once again the Association agreed to participate in the ANZAC Day march but our step off time and location were different from last years – this year our FUP was in Collins Street East with step off at 10.10 am (according to MUFTI) but bearing in mind the events of the last few years where we stepped off early everyone was advised to be in place by 9.30 am. I spoke to the Chief Marshall for the area and he (a LTCOL) assured me many times that we would step off as advised but at a little after 9.30 am we were being rounded up by a very angry female SGT from Navy who would listen to nobody and directed us to move into the parade some 25 minutes early – by stepping off early a few people missed out on this privilege of marching. We had the Cadets in place and banner ready well before the scheduled step off so we were OK.
This year we were supported with our banner by Cadets from 31 Army Cadet Unit, Ringwood (Norwood) who were so willing to come into the city and help us – they represented their Unit with pride and certainly did us proud – let’s hope that this support will be ongoing for many years to come – it also gives us a chance to meet some of the Cadets – Michael Potts made the approach to 31 ACU and he escorted the Cadets into town.
Our contingent was led by Bruce Murray, AM (COL COMDT Southern Region) who took the salute at the Eternal Flame. The Association certainly had good support with about 65 people marching behind the banner. Several members travelled considerable distance to be part of this march and it was also great to see a contingent of Royal Engineers return and join us again this year – thanks to Mike Silvester for arranging this.
Normally the Woodies march early in the parade representing the World War Forestry Squadrons however due to a couple of reasons the Woodies marched as a group with us and had about 10 people behind their banner. It was a pleasure to have them on board – next year they will return to the march in their allocated position representing the Forestry Squadrons.
This year the 22nd Engineer Regiment conducted a Dawn Service at Oakleigh prior to departing to participate in 4th Brigade city march. Timing for all those participating in the city march were very tight which did not allow the Regiment to conduct a “gunfire” breakfast or complete other formalities such as inviting families and friends or having local dignitaries lay wreaths. By conducting a Dawn Service the Regiment acknowledged the purpose and objective of the day and that is to remember those men and women who paid the supreme sacrifice. I believe that the Regiment was the only Unit within the Brigade to hold a Service.
Bill van Ree represented the Association at the Ringwood Clock Tower Dawn Service and laid a wreath on behalf of all sappers.
Spectator numbers seemed a little lower this year but those people who did attend certainly gave a lot of vocal encouragement to the marchers – how great it is to hear “Up the old red Rooster”. We all should be so proud of the support of the people who line the barriers all the way to the Shrine – we all have much to be proud of. The people marching behind our banner certainly looked the part in their dress, bearing and drill. I also felt that we were certainly one of the larger groups participating – there was without doubt a reduction in the number of Associations marching.
Once again we had arranged the after march meeting place at the Elephant & Wheelbarrow pub and whilst the numbers were down a little there was great support from the marchers, families and a number of Sappers from the Regiment who travelled into the city after dismissal. The E & W is a great spot where people can and enjoy the company of others.
Again this year we had members of the Doncaster Camera Club who came along and photographed us at various locations including the “class photo” on the rear steps of the Shrine – this is a very important part of the day as each photo creates a memory.
Thank you all again.