Mount Gambier’s Anzac Day commemorations had a distinctive aviation theme this year, marking the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Former RAAF mechanic and prisoner of war Jack Hopgood, 101, led the annual street march, which featured a flyover by a RAAF P-8A Poseidon from the Edinburgh Air Base in Adelaide, with those gathered craning their necks to see the plane cruise overhead at 250 feet.
Mount Gambier Community RSL President Bob Sandow was full of praise for the community support on the day, which started with a moving dawn service, followed by the street march and a morning service at Vansittart Park.
“Everything was excellent, the plane flew over on time and did exactly what we wanted,” he said. “It was spectacular and marked the 100th anniversary of the RAAF and honoured Jack Hopgood who was out the front followed by the 612 Air Squadron cadets.
“When I approached Jack it went down very well, I asked if he would be kind enough to honour the air force by leading the rest of us in the march. “I then talked to the air cadets and they were grateful they had pride of place leading the march for Jack and the air force.”
Mr Sandow said the events attracted a “well behaved group of community members” who abided by the COVID restrictions. “I think people were itching to get back to do a public commemoration for the veterans, I encouraged them to do driveway service if they wanted and I am sure people did that,” he said.
“I could not believe the numbers of people that were there to wish the veterans well.” Former submariner Captain Matthew Ritchie, who is now the captain director of the upkeep and update of the Collins Class submarine in Adelaide, was a special guest at the RSL’s series of events.