Personal memory of war: Cootamundra RSL sub-branch vice president Jim Galloway remembers when the subs hit Sydney Harbour.
“My mother and father grabbed my brother and I from our bedroom up the front of the house and bundled us up under grandma’s bed in the middle of the house. Their thinking was that grandma was a better Catholic than we were and divine intervention might come in to play,” he said.
“I remember the air raid shelters and the siren drills,” said Jim, “but we never had to use them. The only place we ducked for cover was under Grandma’s bed.”
Jim is also parade commander for the Cootamundra RSL sub-branch and said he finds it very uplifting to be with his comrades during the Remembrance Day service each year.
“During the playing of the last post I call all the veterans to attention and stand them at ease. It’s a pleasure to do it,” he said.
“This year we’re hoping for a big crowd in Cootamundra to be part of the centenary service on Remembrance Day,” he said. “It’s a time to stop and think what those men and women gave for their country. We live an envious lifestyle of freedom today because of their effort and sacrifice.”
With the centenary focus on WWI Jim said that women were prominent in the first war as nurses.
“I feel humbled and thankful to all those men and women who served in all theatres of war,” he said.
Remembrance Day events: This Sunday marks 100 years since the signing of the Armistice and a special commemoration service has been planned for Cootamundra, including many elements not part of a standard Remembrance Day service.
Two special Remembrance Day events are happening in Cootamundra. Cootamundra RSL Sub-branch Treasurer and Trustee Jacqui Vincent OAM said the events for this year will be quite different for the centenary.
“We have planned a special ceremony this year with different elements involving many parts of our local community,” she said. These include:
Remembrance Day commemoration service at Albert Park Memorial on November 11 at 10.45am featuring:
- Guest speaker The Honorable Justice Major General Paul Brereton AM RFD.
- Readings by school captains from each school in Cootamundra
- Prayer of remembrance by Uniting Church Minister Ken Turner
- Wreath laying ceremony
- Catafalque party featuring soldiers on each corner of the cenotaph.
Unique to this year is a global synchronised bagpipe rendition of The Battle’s O’er, a poignant tune in the repertoire of every pipe band, signaling the end of the day and recalling the service of British and Commonwealth servicemen and women during WWI.
Local piper Hugh McMin will play the bagpipes at 5pm on Sunday, at Cootamundra’s Albert Park Memorial, synchronizing with pipers in Britain playing at 6am, the exact time the Armistice was signed.
The Armistice of Compiègne was signed between the Allies and Germany at 6am on 11 November 1918. It marked the end of fighting on the Western Front and the Great War, the four-year conflict that saw millions killed and wounded, including around 2000 pipers.
As Hugh plays the pipes in Cootamundra, pipers around the world will play the same tune at the same time to commemorate the centenary.
This will be a poignant and historical event to mark in time again what happened in Europe 100 years ago.
“We hope locals will embrace these centenary events in Cootamundra at 10.45am and 5pm on Sunday,” said Jacqui.