A YARRAWONGA woman has done her country proud this week.
Corporal Brimlea-Jane Smyth from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has experienced an Anzac Day like few others in the Australian Defence Force.
Posted to Australia’s Federation Guard, Corporal Smyth had a marathon series of commemorations and memorials around Ypres in Belgium.
Growing up at Yarrawonga, Corporal Smyth had many jobs before joining the RAAF as a clerk in 2014.
In January 2016 the former Yarrawonga Pigeons player began her posting to Australia’s Federation Guard, the tri-service unit that provides the Australian Defence Force with a ceremonial capability.
In the Anzac Day lead-up, Corporal Smyth led a catafalque party at a Menin Gate Last Post ceremony in Ypres.
The buglers of the Last Post Association have been honouring the dead of the Menin Gate in a nightly ceremony since July 1928.
The Menin Gate memorial bears the names of more than 54,000 soldiers who died before August 16, 1917, and have no known grave or resting place. The names of Australia’s 6000 missing in Belgium are engraved on the walls of the Menin Gate.
“We’ve got battlefield tours that are for people all over the world that come up to us just to see what we’re doing here and what our contribution is for Anzac Day,” Corporal Smyth said.
“It’s always a positive response and they’re just so happy that we can be part of it.”
In Belgium Corporal Smyth and the Federation Guard contingent toured battlefields and cemeteries containing thousands of fallen Australian soldiers.
“Looking into the cemeteries themselves has made you realise the emotional effect World War I has had because of the significant losses,” she said.
“Just seeing the gravestones has a greater impact because of the fact these members lie here and never returned home.”
More than 295,000 Australians served between March 1916 and November 1918 with the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front.
46,000 remain there.
- JESSE ROBILLIARD