As the sun started to peak through the karri trees on Anzac Day, Denmark RSL president Horrie Wallis likened the courage shown by the town’s volunteer firefighters to the example set by the Anzacs in World War I.
Mr Wallis gave the Denmark Anzac Day dawn service address to a crowd of about 300 people who were gathered around the Denmark War Memorial on Monday.
“In February 2022, Denmark had a devastating bushfire — my house was saved and I felt lucky,” Mr Wallis told the crowd.
“But on reflection it was not really luck but the dedication, courage and willingness to put their own lives at risk shown by the volunteer firefighters.
“It is a characteristic of many Australians born almost 100 years ago who fought at Gallipoli and passed down over the generations.”
Mr Wallis said Anzac Day was an opportunity to pay tribute to all Australian defence force personnel.
“At first Anzac Day was a chance to honour the original Anzacs, those who had fought at Gallipoli, then it became a day to honour all who have worn our country’s uniform in service,” he said.
“Today, we reflect on that service and reflect on the more than 100,000 Australians who have lost their lives in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Borneo and many other conflicts and peacekeeping missions.
“We should be proud and grateful for those original Anzacs and subsequent Australian soldiers, airmen and nurses and the sacrifices they have made for us.
Among the crowd in Denmark were past and present servicemen and women.
Speaking after the service, Mr Wallis commented on the size of the crowd.
“Last year we had about 120 people, if we haven’t got double that this year I’d be very surprised,” he said.
“I say we could have up to 300 people here today.”
David and Elizabeth McGregor attended the dawn service along with their sons Jacob and Zavier.
It was their first time attending the Denmark dawn service since recently moving to the south coast.
Mr McGregor served in Afghanistan for almost six months as a Fixed Wing Liaison Officer with the Royal Australian Air force.
Denmark RSL sub-branch life member Ian Mullholland — a veteran of Borneo, Malaysia and Vietnam — said he was glad to see a lot of younger faces in the crowd.
“I get to catch up with people I know and that I haven’t seen for a while,” he said.
“I enjoy the service and I’m glad that people come along and commemorate the service, especially the younger ones.”
In Mt Barker, Anzac Day commemorations started with the traditional dawn service at the town’s war memorial, where the crowd was also bigger than expected.
Mt Barker RSL president Maurice Draper gave the keynote address.
He said more than 100 people attended the dawn service, and he was especially impressed by the number of young families paying their respects.
“It was so wonderful that Plantagenet people thought enough to come down and pay homage to the Anzac spirit and so early in the morning, because it was quite a crisp morning here,” Mr Draper said after the service.
Further north in Katanning, about 100 people gathered around the Katanning War Memorial in Prosser Park for the Anzac Day dawn service.
The service was organised by the local Lions Club, with the Katanning 518 Army Cadet Unit providing the flag orderlies and catafalque party.