Delungra will host a unique Anzac Day service this year, in co-operation with the small town of Templeton in New Zealand.
A mystery connection spurred on the changes, which will see both towns raise the Australian and New Zealand flags and sing the anthems of both countries.
Delungra and District Development Council (DDC) chairman Peter McCarthy said the plan was formed earlier this month when the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra inquired about a flag donated to the Delungra War Memorial last year. Although the DDC couldn’t uncover the purpose of the donation or Delungra’s original connection with the Templeton Returned Services Association, they were keen to keep the relationship going.
“I think it’s important that we keep a connection with our New Zealand neighbours,” Peter said.
“We’re not alone in this process. Not alone in losing men, going to war and suffering the same consequences.”
Running two hours ahead of Delungra, Templeton’s service will include ‘In Memoriam’, a solo sung in Inverell’s original Anzac ceremony 100 years ago. Delungra will also include a piece of Templeton’s history in their ceremony.
“They’re doing this very much in step with us,” Peter said. He said that Anzac Day was a time when both countries could put aside their sport rivalries and remember their powerful wartime partnership.
Peter will speak at the Delungra service, giving locals a glimpse at how the Gallipoli landing was remembered in Inverell, Delungra, Little Plain, Gilgai and Warialda in 1917. Many current traditions such as the sounding of The Last Post and raising of the flags were part of those early services.
“It’s a great honour to be part of this,” Peter said.
He related well to the sense of loss many felt then and still feel now, having lost a great uncle to the war in 1918.
“I didn’t understand it as a child, but it’s only as I’ve got older that I can understand how deep that feeling ran into the family and its effects on the family,” he said.
“In a sense in war you have the victorious and you have the vanquished - both sides are casualties, and almost in equal terms. I feel that quite sincerely.” He appreciated that Australia didn’t just honour generals and victors, but everyone involved.
Delungra’s dawn service will begin at 6.30am at the cemetery. Locals will assemble for the march at 10.30 outside the Delungra Memorial Bowling Club, and march down to Anzac Park for the 11am service. Breakfast and lunch will be available at the bowling club, with bookings preferred.