Cottesloe Anzac service offers sombre reflection

THE deadly trench warfare of the Western Front in World War I and the veterans of modern wars in all communities were remembered at Cottesloe’s Anzac Day ceremony at the Civic Centre yesterday.

“I brought my son Cody to show respect for the fallen diggers and acknowledge the personnel who are serving offshore at the moment,” Cottesloe resident Jason Flannery said.

Methodist Ladies’ College student Emily Utting (12) wore the medals of her grandfather who flew light bombers in the RAAF in World War II, before she laid a wreath on behalf of her school.

After last year’s centenary of the 1915 Anzac landings at Gallipoli in Turkey, thoughts turned to the Western Front and the 100 years since the horrific battles either side of the Somme River in which Australians fought and cost about 1.2 million British and Commonwealth, French and German lives.

Of the 400,000 Australians who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, about 60,000 died, including 46,000 in France and Belgium.

Their memory is marked by memorial across France, including that at Villers-Bretonneux unveiled by King George VI in 1938.

“That bloodletting had, emphasised the King, allowed the new Commonwealth to pass from ‘youth to manhood’ and to take its ‘rightful place in the community of nations’,” Cottesloe Mayor Jo Dawkins said.

Among those who served in France were Rose Street and Cottesloe resident Jack Godwin, a clerk who enlisted aged 18 in 1916 and was wounded in 1917 before his return to Australia.

Cottesloe-born labourer John Burke also joined in 1916 but was wounded and made deaf before he returned to of life in North Fremantle on a pension of 20 shillings a fortnight.

Mrs Dawkins said the spirit of the Anzac, its qualities of courage, mateship and sacrifice, continued to have meaning for Australia today.

She said identity now including caring for those wounded and returned from recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, operations in Timor, and peacekeeping in Africa or other parts of the Middle Wast.

“Today, as we stand in this beautiful peaceful place over looking the Indian Ocean , it is a day for all of us, a day to honour the commitment and service given to this country by those who have gone before us, and those who stand for us today,” Mrs Dawkins said.