Hundreds gathered in Picton Memorial Park this morning to pay their respects to Australia’s fallen soldiers.
The Picton Anzac Day Committee held the commemoration service at 11am in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.
This year marks the 99th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I.
Committee chairman Ray Law was pleased to see so many locals at the service.
“The attendance today was bigger than previous Remembrance Day services,” he said.
“Because Remembrance Day can fall on any day of the week when people are usually working, it was nice to see that people took the opportunity to come pay their respects and remember soldiers’ sacrifices.”
Mr Law spoke about the cost of war during his address.
“There is an old saying, ‘the price of peace is eternal vigilance’,” he said.
“This time 100 years ago, the Light Horse Brigade’s charge at Beersheba was deemed a success but our soldiers in the skies and on the seas were dying in their thousands on the Western Front.
“That saying is not true. Life was the price of freedom. More than 100,000 military lives were lost and many are still suffering to this day.”
Mr Law then told a story of a young soldier named George who fought in the Battle of Fromelles during World War I.
“George and his mate enlisted together, trained together, were in the same battalion and were both sent to the Western Front,” he said.
“They promised each other that they would stick together during battles and if one of them died or was injured then the other would look after his family.
“The soldiers were sent on one of the suicide missions where they were bombarded with artillery fire. That battle turned out to be one of the largest losses of Australian troops.
“Eventually they were told to withdraw by officers. George and his mate were separated.
“As the officers tried to get back some order, George realised his mate had not gotten back to base. He went to the aid post but couldn’t find him. George used the periscope to try and find his mate in the battlefield.
“George begged his officer to let him go back out and find his mate but the officer wouldn’t let him saying he could not afford to lose another soldier on a pointless mission.
“George continued to scan the battlefield and thought he had found his friend. The officer relented and let George go out saying that it was on his own head to commit suicide.
“As night fell, the enemy sent up flares which meant George could only crawl and make little steps.
“Eventually George found his mate, gave him water and dressed his wounds.
“George dragged his mate back to the trench where he was stretchered to the aid post.
“The medic just shook his head at George when he saw the friend.
“George stayed with his friend until he died.
“The officer came over and looked down at George and said, ‘I told you it was pointless’.
“George looked up with tears streaming down his face and said ‘Sir, it wasn’t pointless because my friend’s last words to me were, ‘George I knew you would come’.”
Mr Law spoke about the loyalty of Australian troops to their nation and Allies and their sacrifice for freedom.
He then spoke about how the service that veterans received when they came back was a “national shame”.
Students from Picton Public School, Picton High School and Wollondilly Anglican College attended the service.
Community groups and representatives laid wreaths, the ode was said, the Last Post was sounded and a minute’s silence was held at 11am.
Mr Law thanked Picton High School students for playing in the band and organising the sound for the service.
Lest we forget.