Millicent gathers at break of dawn

There was an exceptional addition to the usual Anzac Day arrangements at Millicent yesterday as well as an unprecedented turnout of 700 at the dawn service.

Four mounted light horsemen from the Naracoorte re-enactment troupe took part in the mid-morning march along George Street and then formed the catafalque party at the Cross of Sacrifice.

RSL and community members appreciated these gestures along with a return to normality in other Anzac Day commemorations after two COVID-disrupted years.

The day began with the dawn service at 6am at the Cross of Sacrifice and it was conducted under clear skies by RSL chaplain and retired minister Pastor Paul Hales.

The dawn service attended by a record gathering of 700 was followed by the traditional gunfire breakfast with the assistance of the Millicent Lions Club at the nearby RSL war memorial clubrooms.

Coffee with a dash of special ingredient was served.

Later in the morning at 10.45, the march started from the George Hotel.

The march made its way along a closed George Street to the Cross of Sacrifice for a further service conducted by Pastor Paul at 11am.

Speeches to the gathering of 400 were delivered by Millicent RSL president Chris Mathias and Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll.

The Millicent leader spoke of the life of fallen World War I soldier Corporal William Henry Ken of Millicent whose name is listed on the Cross of Sacrifice.

Mr Mathias referred to the war in Ukraine and what he called the “insane aggression of a despotic leader”.

The ex-service community was well represented as well as the next-of-kin.

Member for MacKillop Nick McBride and his wife Katherine attended the dawn service at Glencoe and the mid-morning service at Millicent.

Among others to pay their respects were 94-year-old Millicent resident Fred Ellis who served in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II and former airman Ted Davis whose wartime service in the 1940s took him to New Guinea.

Around 20 wreaths from organisations, schools and individuals were laid at the foot of the Cross of Sacrifice.

Speaking to The SE Voice, Mr Mathias said the presence of 700 at the dawn service was “incredible”.

“We had a lot of interstate travellers as well as new residents to Millicent,” Mr Mathias said.

“We hope to get three new members for the RSL.”

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