Naracoorte to observe earlier ANZAC Day service

THE early-morning commitment by locals to Anzac Day will really be tested this year.

Naracoorte will observe a traditional dawn service for the first time this year.

Instead of the usual 7am start, the community is invited to gather at the war memorial at an earlier 5.30am timeslot to pay their respects on April 25.

The ceremony will then be followed with a march up and down Ormerod St and the usual breakfast at the Naracoorte Hotel.

An Anzac Day Remembrance Day Working Group has been formed to support the local RSL in hosting the event.

It consists of three delegates from the RSL including president Andrew "Jay" Jaloshin, three from council and three from the community.

Mayor Erika Vickery, who is a member of the group, said the RSL was finding it a little difficult to organise the day due to lack of members.

"We have had a couple of meetings and we are working with the RSL, trying to assist them," she said.

"The two commemorative services (in Naracoorte and Lucindale) are of real importance in the community.

"Over the years I know both have been getting more and more people attending.

"We didn't want it lost, but to rather build on the strength of what the RSL have done.

"People we have spoken to about it have been very supportive."

All the local schools will be involved in some way, as well as the Naracoorte Highland Pipe Band, combined schools choir, Naracoorte Singers and the Naracoorte Lucindale Concert Band.

Mayor Vickery said she was not aware of a proper dawn service being held in the past and had only heard stories about how things were run.

"Years and years ago we didn't have it in Naracoorte because a lot of the returned soldiers would go up to the cities to join up with their comrades there," she said.

"There was a commemorative service held on the Sunday closest to Anzac Day at about midday."

As less people attended that ceremony it was decided there would be one on the actual day at 7am and that has been how it has been ever since.

Everyone is invited to the Naracoorte dawn service to honour those who have fought for their country.

History of the dawn service

There are a number of anecdotal stories behind the origins of the Anzac Day dawn service - from the military practice of "stand-to" at dawn on the battle field to the dawn landing at Gallipoli in 1915.

Some believe it was was first observed on April 25, 1923 when Reverend Arthur Ernest White led one for friends in Albany, Western Australia.

He was one of the earliest Anzacs to leave Australia with the First AIF in a convoy assembled in Albany in November 1914.

Before leaving at 4am, Reverend White lead a service for all the men of the battalion.

Upon returning in 1919 he was appointed to the Saint John's Church in Albany and believed there was a need to recognise the valiant men (both living and dead) who had fought.

"Albany was the last sight of land these Anzac troops saw after leaving Australian shores and some of them never returned," he was quoted to have said.

"We should hold a service (here) at the first light of dawn each Anzac Day to commemorate them."

And so in 1923 the first one was held.

A man in a small dinghy cast a wreath into the King George Sound harbour while Reverend White and about 20 other men gathered on the summit of Mount Clarence to watch it float out to sea.

"As the sun rises and goeth down, we will remember them," Reverend White recited.

All present were deeply moved and word of the ceremony quickly spread throughout the country.

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