Grong Grong remembers their first fallen

Mick Batchelor, Jody Batchelor, Peter Skarlis and Arthur Skarlis rode their horses in the march.

Grong Grong held their third ANZAC Day service after a lull of nearly thirty years.

Starting at 7.30am, the Grong Grong service was well attended, with an estimated 100 people who braved the early start to remember our Defence Force personnel.

Michael Batchelor, a member of the Gundagai 7th Light Horse, was also at the ceremony in the full uniform of the Light Horse.

Peter and Arthur Skarlis rode their horses in the march, and Mr Batchelor’s daughter Jody Batchelor joined them also.

Mr Skarlis, along with former member of the New Zealand Navy Ron Hirst, shared both their own experiences of the Defence Forces and took the time to reflect on what the day meant for the community.

“I served in the First Royal Australian Regiment in the Australian Army,” Mr Skarlis said.

“Forty-three years ago this week I joined the army, and I attended my first dawn service. I have never forgot it.”

Mr Skarlis spoke at length on the lasting mark the First World War had on the national psyche.

“A generation of young men had been destroyed and the world would never be the same again.

“We teach our children our history, because today’s forgotten history is tomorrow’s mistake.”

Mr Hirst opened his address with a welcome in Maori.

“When the war broke out with Germany in 1914, Australia and New Zealand were isolated and alone,” Mr Hirst said.

“What they experienced would change their lives and our lives together.

“They were no longer New South Welshmen, or Tasmanians, or Aucklanders. They were Aussies and Kiwis.”

“I want to thank Ron for speaking to us this morning,” said Brian Gawne, the MC of the service.

“Sometimes in Australia we forget that New Zealand was an equal partner. We have the New Zealand flag here today.”

Mr Batchelor took the time in the service to read a biography of “the first fallen” of Grong Grong. Nineteen men from Grong Grong lost their lives in the First World War, and this year
Mr Batchelor read the life story of the first man from Grong Grong who was reported dead, Richard William Allen.

Richard Allen, originally from London, enlisted at Grong Grong, was killed at Gallipoli, and is buried at Lone Pine cemetery.

Mr Batchelor remarked on the impact he must have had on the community, that someone had taken the time to mark his name at Grong Grong, despite his family still living in London.

The Grong Grong community hopes that each year they can continue to tell the stories of their ANZACs.

2 Comments on "Grong Grong remembers their first fallen"

  1. Brilliant !

  2. Jennifer Thompson | April 27, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Reply

    I live a very long way away from Narrandera – a small city in WA called Mandurah – and I often access news from the Narrandera Argus. I was particularly touched by the Grong Grong article about the recent commemoration of ANZAC Day. One line from the article, “We teach our children our history, because today’s forgotten history is tomorrow’s mistake,” is just so true. We learn from our past so that we can move on to the future.

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