ANZAC DAY: Much to forget and remember

Mick Scanlan, 90, served in the Australian Navy. Pictures: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
Mick Scanlan, 90, served in the Australian Navy. Pictures: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

MORE than 200 people were silhouetted in the chill of the Beechworth morning at the Anzac Day dawn service yesterday.

Nothing was heard except the autumn breeze rustling the remaining leaves of the elm trees.

As the sun rose, Diggers were revealed standing proud and respectfully.

Former servicemen and women then stepped up to the cenotaph and laid poppies in honour of those soldiers who had fallen.

Beechworth’s Mick Scanlan, a 90-year- old former navy serviceman from 1942-46, was among those in the crowd.

He remembered his time in World War II and his youth that he gave up.

“During the time I served I missed things like birthdays and Christmases,” he said.

“I remember when my mother died and I couldn’t even come home.”

Mr Scanlan witnessed the signing of the surrender by the Japanese which ended World War II at Tokyo Bay in 1945.

“When the ceasefire was announced I remember it being a relief because when you’re at sea you’re in danger,” he said.

“Being there was unreal and something that happens once in a lifetime.”

Mr Scanlan couldn’t quite recall why he had the desire to become a serviceman.

“When I was serving half the men feared the ship would sink and the other half feared it wouldn’t,” he said.

As many veterans do, Mr Scanlan only remembered the good times.

RSL Beechworth sub-branch president Craig Duff spoke to the crowd about forgotten names.

“Nothing in town is named after former servicemen and women,” he said.

“I’d say that’s because of the town’s colonial history.”

Mr Duff said the oval at Mayday Hills would soon be named the Bill Birrell Oval after a serviceman who was enlisted in Beechworth and was shot three times.

The RSL also announced refurbishments to the cenotaph which will be completed by next Anzac Day.

“We will begin works after Remembrance Day,” he said

Pillars will be built at the front of the memorial with 121 bronze plaques including the names of the town’s war dead.