Beachport’s last veteran remembered

A gathering of almost 300 honoured wartime service and sacrifice at Beachport on Anzac Day.

The dawn service was held in the vicinity of the foreshore rotunda, memorial and flagpoles and was conducted by Bob Grieve, of the Lions Club of Beachport and Rivoli Bay.

It was the 12th time that members of the Beachport community and holiday-makers had come together to pay tribute and the 2021 event was staged in perfect weather.

The Beachport sub-branch of the RSL closed over 30 years ago and the Lions Club reinstated the dawn service in 2010. Mr Grieve said he was pleased with another strong turn-out and his address explained the purpose and significance of Anzac Day.

He said the later starting time was necessary for the COVID check-in protocols. Much of his address was dedicated to the RAAF which celebrated its centenary last month.

“Beachport lost its last World War II veteran earlier this year with the passing of Lorna Bowman at the age of 99,” Mr Grieve said. “Lorna had wanted to recite the Ode of Remembrance this year.”

With the sun breaking over the Woakwine Range, bagpiper Janet Bellinger commenced proceedings playing at the later time of 6.50am. Prayers were led by Anglican Church Lay Reader J.L (“Fred”) Smith while students from Beachport Primary School read poetry and like Kangaroo Inn Area School, laid a wreath.

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of a number of other local organisations including Wattle Range Council, Beachport District Development Association, Lions Club of Beachport and Rivoli Bay,Beachport First Responders, Beachport Surf Lifesaving Club, Beachport Police, Beachport National Trust, Beachport Country Fire Service Brigade, Beachport Meals on Wheels, Beachport Bowling Club and a representative of Nick McBride MP.

The other traditional marks of respect like playing of the Last Post and a minute’s silence were observed. The Ode of Remembrance was recited by Vietnam War ex-serviceman Bob Wakelin.

As 2021 is the Year of the Volunteer, the flag raising duties were undertaken by representatives of the Beachport CFS, Beachport First Responders and the Beachport Surf Lifesaving Club.

Among those in the crowd were other veterans, retired MP Don Pegler and uniformed members of the SA Ambulance Service Beachport First Responders. Following the solemn occasion, there was a breakfast of bacon and eggs provided by the Lions Club of Beachport and Rivoli Bay.

Donations for the cooked breakfast went to the Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation. Strict COVID protocols were in place at the service and the breakfast.

Beachport has a special place in Australian wartime history as it was the first place to suffer casualties during World War II. It will be 80 years on July 14 since two sailors were killed while attempting to detonate an enemy mine which had floated into Rivoli Bay.

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