Monday, 27 April 2015

Dawn Service at Poona

My daughter and I were invited to attend the Dawn Service at Poona and the planting of the Lone Pine service.. and I got a copy of a write up the amazing man - Alastair Martin ( who was the main organiser of the events ) wrote for a New Zealand Vets Group..

It goes like this.

Poona is a small fishing village of less than 450 souls about 300KM Nth of Brisbane and some 40KM Sth of Maryborough QLD, directly opposite Fraser Island. Its sometimes referred to as "A small drinking village with a fishing problem" which has one of only  a handful of "ANZAC Memorials" in  Australia.
 

We have a local Progress Assoc, and one of its activities is a Craft Group, sometimes referred to as "Stitch and Bitch" or "Knit and natter". They took inspiration from the London Towers river of Poppies and from a NZ generated idea to "Knit 1000 Poppies". Another group 
decided they wanted to form a Choir to sing "Abide with me" during the wreath laying 
section, and both National Anthems.  As we all know, never knock back someone 
who volunteers, so I was happy to include them in the Dawn Service Programme, as what we do here has to come from within the community.
 
It was a beautiful day, cool, just a bit crisp, the Service was moving, 
but the people.....we estimated 220. 
The shelter next to the Memorial had a flowing cascade of Poppies spilling and pooling onto the ground in front of the Memorial, some 2500 Poppies were knitted. The Choir, 



Aussies, Kiwis, Solomon Islanders, sang their hearts out, and got all the words right in Maori, outstanding work. Our local member from our Regional Council gave an inspired address, he has a Norforce background. 













Wreaths were reverently laid, and covered a wide range of
 history, Aus and Kiwi Vets, Aus and Kiwi Vietnam Vets, direct descendants from original ANZACS, 26 Bn, 2nd & 5th Light Horse, Bomber Command, US Vets (He was a MP in Saigon at the US Embassy when it was attacked) 6RAR (He was with A Coy that did the follow up sweep after Long Tan), 
Coastwatchers, Z Force, Aus National Servicemen, School Children representing local primary and secondary schools, and the people of Vanuatu.
 
At the conclusion of the service we retired to our Community Hall for a full gunfire breakfast, bacon, eggs, sausage, tomatoes, baked beans and lambs fry in onion gravy. The Village maintained its reputation, and all 18 bottles of rum 
were consumed.


 
In the afternoon, after we were all refreshed with a Nanna Nap, we gathered again, some 90 people this time. All our Vets marched, marching's probably being a bit generous, the short distance from the road to the Memorial, to the sustained and generous applause from the 
Community, and we then planted a Lone Pine seedling. The theme here in Aus for the Centenary is, "The Spirit Lives", and it was thought fitting that a living symbol was appropriate, and I charged all those in the town with the responsibility of looking after our tree. I then recited the words that are on the main gate at Burnham, "Remember that prosperity can only be for the free, and freedom, is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it". That brought a few tears.
 

Afterwards, a BBQ dinner, more fluid of various colours and flavours, and a local entertainer who selected her music to fit the occasion.


 
Its from small towns and villages such as ours that so many of the ANZACs from both sides of the Tasman came from, and it was so moving to see the same small communities rising to the occasion. In all I guess 300 plus attended both events, from a town of 450.
 
Lest we Forget
 

Alastair Martin

**All photos were taken by Craig Whittaker (Poona) ** 

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