Remembrance Day 2018: Karuah and Tea Gardens Sub-Branches combine to mark armistice centenary

The RSL sub-branches of Karuah and Tea Gardens teamed up to deliver a moving Remembrance Day service befitting the 100 year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I on Sunday.

The streets of Tea Gardens were filled with people to watch the parade procession of veterans, school children bearing photos of soldiers from the district that fought in WWI and II, vehicles and other dignitaries before a service and RAAF flyover in Anzac Park.

“The service was very fitting for such an important occasion,” Karuah RSL Sub-Branch president Peter Fidden said.

“Between the two sub-branches we had a lot of veterans there on Sunday. The estimate is we had around 1000 people for the service. It went very well.”

It is the first time the two sub-branches have combined to mark Remembrance Day. Typically, each year the sub-branches host commemorative services in their own towns.

The idea to work together for the centenary of armistice Remembrance Day service was sparked earlier in the year when the sub-branches combined with Bulahdelah and Nabiac for Vietnam Veterans Day.

Karuah and Tea Gardens sub-branches, both of which have large memberships of Vietnam veterans, have for a number of years alternated hosting a service to mark Long Tan Day. This year, Karuah hosted the service on August 18.

For the first time, sub-branches from Bulahdelah and Nabiac requested to join Karuah and Tea Gardens’ commemorations.

“It was a very big day for us,” Mr Fidden said. “For Bulahdelah and Nabiac, I don’t think they had the numbers to hold their own services so they asked to join us.

“For me it was the more the merrier. It was a very successful day.

“Afterwards, I was talking with Scott Beaumont, the vice president from Tea Gardens, about Remembrance Day and he said ‘why don’t we have a combined one?’

“Members from both sub-branches agreed and we came up with a plan for it.”

A WWII motorcycle led Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade through Tea Gardens.

The parade also featured four jeeps transporting veterans, marching veterans, a drummer and school children from Karuah and Tea Gardens public schools.

Each child carried a photograph of a soldiers from Karuah and Tea Gardens that fought in WWI and II.

Many of the photographs were sourced from the booklet Karuah RSL Sub-Branch published in 2015 to commemorate the centenary of Anzac.

Students and members of the public placed a cross bearing the name of a relative that fought in WWI and II in the ground at the Anzac Park memorial site. About 1000 crosses were planted in the shape of a poppy.

Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair AC, a retired Navy senior officer, delivered the keynote address at the service.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer and state member for parliament Kate Washington also attended the Tea Gardens service.

Two Hawk 127 aircraft from RAAF No. 76 Squadron flew over Anzac Park about 11.30am.