Record turnout for Anzac Day

SHANNON HAMPTONAlbany Advertiser

Record crowds attended Albany’s Anzac Day commemorations, with thousands paying their respects at various services throughout the day as the city counts down to centenary events in November.

The day began with a dawn service at the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, where an estimated 3500 people swarmed on Mt Clarence for the moving service.

Royal Australian Navy Commodore Bronko Ogrizek spoke of Albany’s tie to the Anzacs before pastor Norm Baty said the prayer of remembrance and dignitaries including Mayor Dennis Wellington laid their wreaths.

Albany Entertainment Centre, which screened a live simulcast of the service, had its auditorium filled to capacity, with a small %overflow crowd watching in the foyer.

Later in the morning, the Albany 10th Light Horse Brigade led the march down York Street, followed closely by veterans, who waved to the crowd from vintage Rolls Royce cars, and representatives from the community walked to remember fallen soldiers.

In his keynote speech at Anzac Peace Park, Albany RSL sub-branch president Peter Aspinall touched on Albany’s role in the Gallipoli battle.

“It was the expectation of those in the first convoy which departed Albany on November 1, 1914, that they were sailing to Europe to be deployed on the Western Front, only to be diverted after they’d set sail to Egypt and eventual mortality on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsular,” he said.

“Regardless of the true origin of the title, we here in Albany claim the genesis of the Anzacs occurred out there on King George Sound and on the streets of Albany.”

Mr Aspinall said the services were being treated as a “dry run” for the centenary commemoration next April and was surprised and delighted by crowd sizes.

“Our estimate is somewhere between 3000 and 3500 (people who attended the dawn service) and I wouldn’t put a figure on the march and memorial service except to say that crowds were four rows deep down York Street — I haven’t seen that since my time back in Albany,” he said.

Mr Aspinall said upgrades to the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial contributed to the spike in attendance numbers.

“We used to get no more than 1800 to 2000 up there,” he said.

“I think the upgrade down to Apex Drive, around the area of the Avenue of Honour and particularly at the Desert Corps Memorial, is outstanding.”

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