Service pays respects to our fallen heroes
At 11am on November 11, 1918, Europe’s Western Front fell silent as the war to end all wars came to an end.
Marking the 99th anniversary of World War I, towns across the nation took one minute out of their day on Saturday to remember the sacrifice and lives lost of those who fought in the battle.
While the mercury tipped 37C, nearly 100 people gathered at Port Hedland War Memorial in the West End for the midday service on Saturday to remember those who died or suffered.
RSL Port Hedland president Val Middleton opened the ceremony before Training Ship Pilbara cadet Callum Taylor read the poem In Flanders Fields.
With Australian soldiers engaged in conflicts in the Middle East, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba and the Kokoda Trail, Mr Middleton called on listeners to remember soldiers not only from WWII but in past and present conflicts and those affected by them.
This year also marked the first Remembrance Day service Port Hedland was without its only veteran, Merv Stanton, who died late last month.
“He served in the third Australian war group, and was then part of operational forces in Japan,” Mr Middleton said.
“Merv returned to Port Hedland, married and spent the rest of his life in the Pilbara.
“Merv was a great story teller, he was generous and mate to all; a very proud Australian and proud to be a soldier.
“Although he may be gone, he will be remembered.”
Hedland resident Frank Edwards attended the ceremony on horseback while holding the flag of the 10th Light Horse Regiment, which was raised in WA in 1914.
He said it was a timely occasion to remember that 136,000 Australian horses, commonly known as Walers, served in WWI, with only one horse, Sandy, making it back home.
Wreaths were laid by representatives from the RSL Port Hedland sub-branch, TS Pilbara Navy cadets, the Port Hedland Seafarers Centre, the Town of Port Hedland, Soroptimist International Port Hedland, the Port Hedland Port Authority, Fortescue Metals Group and BHP Billiton Iron Ore.
Mr Middleton touched on the solemnity of the occasion as the service concluded.
“Thank you for attending this Remembrance Day service,” he said.
“We are not celebrating today — we are remembering those who have fallen.”
Locals, servicemen and cadets followed the service with refreshments at Anzac House on Hedditch Street to trade stories handed down the generations.
People were also invited to join the RSL and other loved ones of Merv Stanton — Hedland’s last remaining World War II veteran — to his funeral this weekend.
The service will start at 4pm at the Pioneer Cemetery in Port Hedland followed by a celebration of his life at Anzac House.
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