The focus of ANZAC Day commemoration ceremonies this year was the Western Front in France and Belgium where some of the great battles of World War I were fought.
RSL Sub Branch Cobar president Ben Hewlett spoke at Monday’s services at the War Memorial Hostel Dawn Service and later at a service in Drummond Park and also at the Lilliane Brady Village.
He recalled the battle of April 24, 1918 in the French town Villers-Brentonneux.
“The town of Villers-Brentonneux had been taken by German Tanks.
“The Australians hadn’t seen tanks before.
“At 10pm the ANZACs went into the night to take her back,” he said.
Mr Hewlett said Villers-Brentonneux had a population of 3,500 at the time, so Cobar people could relate to it living in a town of a similar size.
“A total of 1,200 Australian and New Zealand soldiers were slain in the Allies’ efforts to take back the town.”
He said the people of Villers-Brentonneux were very appreciative of the efforts of the Australian soldiers and later gave some of their streets Australian names.
“Rue de Melbourne, Melbourne Street and Victoria Street,” Mr Hewlett said.
“In 1923-1926 funds were collected from schools in Victoria to help build the destroyed school in Villers-Brentonneux.
“There is a large sign which reads: Do Not Forget Australia.”
Mr Hewlett said the French school reciprocated by raising $20,000 for the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009.
“ANZAC Day was the birth of a nation and our baptism of fire,” Mr Hewlett said.
“The men and women that have fought so hard and dedicated themselves to our country and way of life gave meaning to the word ANZAC.”
Mr Hewlett said the ANZAC spirit is all about courage in the face of certain defeat and pushing forward anyway, like those Australians who bravely fought that night in Villers-Brentonneux.