Time-honoured tradition

THE district's dedication to honouring those who have served during times of conflict continued on Wednesday, with large crowds attending local ANZAC Day services.

Ex-servicemen and women joined relatives of former defence force personnel, community group representatives and children as commemorations occurred in eight towns.

First held to honour those who died during Australia and New Zealand's first foray in World War One on the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915, the day now honours men and women from both nations who have served their respective countries during times of conflict.

This year's commemorations had an added significance, falling on the 100th anniversary of the second battle of Villers Bretonneux, which saw Australian troops reclaim the French village from the Germans – a move that ultimately changed the Allies' fortunes in World War One.

"We will never forget the lives of those lost during times of conflict whose bodies lie in honour at memorial parks all around the world," Cohuna/Leitchville Returned and Services League sub-branch president, Geoff Dale said.

Commemorations started early for many residents, with dawn services held at Barham, Cohuna and Kerang.

Close to 200 people took advantage of the mild conditions to pay their respects at the Kerang cenotaph.

Relatives of veterans joined community leaders, children and other residents to place poppies at the base of the monument.

"It is humbling to see an increasing number of people, especially children, attend ANZAC Day services, including the dawn service," Kerang and District Returned and Services League sub-branch president, Robert Hampton said.

"ANZAC Day is not about glorifying the victors but recognising the sacrifices of those who served."

Around 500 people returned to the site for the morning wreath-laying service, with many heading across to the Kerang Memorial Hall for the main ceremony, which featured a speech from Father John Tinkler.

More than 400 people attended Cohuna's traditional service, which began with a march through the town's streets and included the dedication of a memorial to the district's World War Two servicemen and women.

Similar numbers also attended morning services at Barham and Koondrook – which saw wreaths placed at the bases of memorials in both towns.

George Rathbone led the procession between the two towns via horseback, joining local RSL members, school students, community organisation representatives and other residents on the march across the Murray River.

Other services occurred during the day at Gunbower, Leitchville, Murrabit and Mystic Park.