Ocean Reef RSL hosted a commemorative service for the first departure of Anzac troops

Clockwise from top: Connolly bagpiper Keith Allen; TS Marmion Naval Cadets; Jessica Ford (3) lays flowers; and Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club members did a sail-past.
Clockwise from top: Connolly bagpiper Keith Allen; TS Marmion Naval Cadets; Jessica Ford (3) lays flowers; and Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club members did a sail-past.

RECOGNISING the first departure of Anzac troops, hundreds gathered in Ocean Reef for a commemorative service last Sunday.

Ocean Reef RSL hosted the event on November 2 to mark 100 years since West Australian troops set sail from Fremantle to join those from interstate and NZ who had departed from Albany.

Sub-branch president Rick Green said the WA troops met the rest of the convoy, which was 24km long and 20km wide, offshore from Ocean Reef.

‘West Australians contributed to the war effort more, per capita, than any other State in the Commonwealth,’ he said.

‘WA’s new diggers came on foot and on horseback. They were bankers, farmers, prospectors and labourers, some who had marched from Kalgoorlie and others who packed recruitment centres in Perth and Fremantle, eager for the promise of adventure and travel.

‘WA sent 32,231 volunteers into battle between 1914 to 1918 ” a third of all men in the State aged 18 to 41, and WA troops made up more than a quarter of those who landed at Gallipoli.’

Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said the service commemorated 100 years since ‘many brave West Australians’ set sail to defend their country in ‘what many thought would be the adventure of a lifetime.’

‘What a fitting location ” you can almost picture the flotilla of ships heading off to war a century ago,’ he said.

‘Many would never return to our shores, and those who did were irreparably scarred.’

They demonstrated values the nation still holds dear: courage, mateship and loyalty, he added.

He said Australians today could thank those soldiers for the freedom they now enjoyed, and remember those who still served, those who had returned and those who had fallen.

Indian Blue Chorus led singing in the NZ and Australian national anthems, and sang their own composition Where does the time go?

Connolly bagpiper Keith Allan performed the Flowers of the Forest lament during the wreath-laying, while Ocean Reef Sea Sports Club yachts and power boats ‘sailed’ past in the ocean backdrop.

11th Battalion Association president Rodney Halcomb said commemorations earlier in the day had included a gunfire breakfast at Blackboy Hill, and events in Fremantle.