Remembering their service

Ruby Langford, Kath Gannaway and Mikayla Short at the Healesville service. Picture: JED LANYON

By Jed Lanyon

On 11 November 1918, 101 years ago, the guns of the Western Front fell silent.

After more than four years of brutal fighting in the most destructive war the modern world had seen, the guns fell silent, and people around the world rejoiced.

But it came at a great cost, and for Australia, of the some 416,000 who enlisted for service more than 60,000 died.

RSL sub-branches throughout the Yarra Valley conducted services on Remembrance Day – Monday, 11 November.

It stands as the day where we pause and remember the men and women who suffered and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in over a century of service.

Healesville RSL hosted a Remembrance Day service to pay respect to those who have served our country.

With flags flying at half-mast, Healesville resident and former Mail journalist Kath Gannaway shared the story of her father, Ernest William Mills, who served as a cook in World War II.

“Although it’s fair to say that his Sunday roast was legendary and his golden syrup dumplings delicious, it wasn’t the sort of role that opened a lot of possibilities for heroism …even in the camp kitchen.

“When I was about 12 or 13 I learned of my dad’s sacrifice. It wasn’t life-threatening, but it was heartbreaking.

“Just weeks before he embarked for the Middle East he married his sweetheart.

“They had been courting for some time, and I have no doubt that it was the love and thoughts of a future with his new wife that sustained him over those long years away from home.

“Absence however, does not always make the heart grow fonder, and when he returned from Papua New Guinea at the end of the war, he discovered his wife had found another love.

“It broke his heart, and for a time, it broke his spirit.”

Healesville High School’s saxophone quartet performed the national anthem, while their school captains for next year both read poems. Mikayla Short read ‘In Flanders Fields’, while Ruby Langford read ‘Remembrance’.

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