Next Wednesday, April 25, is of course Anzac Day.
This year marks the 103rd anniversary of the landing of troops from Australia and New Zealand on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey.
Joining them on that fateful day in 1915 were troops from India, France, Newfoundland and the United Kingdom.
Hindsight is a marvellous thing and most historians now say the landing at Gallipoli was an ill-conceived campaign in pursuit of a vague objective, which under-estimated the tactical advantage the Turkish soldiers held.
Ultimately the overwhelming strength of the Turks, and let it be said their bravery, prevented the Allies success.
Sadly, at the end of the bloody eight month campaign, over 50,000 Allied troops had died.
Of the fallen, 8,709 alone were Australian.
As the news of the casualties began to filter back to Australia, so too did the tales of heroism displayed by the Anzacs.
Fellow Allied soldiers from Britain and France spoke of the resilience and the tenacity of our previously untried soldiers; war correspondents reported on their toughness, and not least, from the enemy themselves.
Ironically, next Wednesday also marks 100 years since the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. This two-day battle marked the end of the great German offensive on the Somme but at a cost of almost 2,400 Australian casualties.
On Wednesday we will gather to pause, reflect and acknowledge not just the deeds of those original Anzacs of the Great War, but all current and former members of our Defence Forces.
I think it’s important that we use the term ‘gather’, so as not to glorify war, but to remind ourselves that we value who we are and the freedoms we possess, and to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who contributed so much in shaping the identity of our nation.
Services will be held across many of our shire’s towns and villages. Visit the council’s website at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/council/anzac-day to view a full list of locations and times.
I encourage everyone to attend a service on the day and take a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices our servicemen and women made and continue to make in the name of our country.
Lest We Forget.