City pays ultimate tribute to Australian legends
THOUSANDS of former national servicemen – known affectionately as Nashos – will soon converge on Townsville for their 60th anniversary. Around 4000 national servicemen, relatives and well-wishers are expected to travel to Townsville from across Australia and New Zealand in September for the four-day event being held in honour of those who took part in the scheme.
Mayor Les Tyrell will make an official announcement about the event today with council contributing significant funding and logistical support to help the National Servicemen’s Association Townsville branch orchestrate the event.
Accommodation providers and tourism operators are expected to benefit immensely from the event, which has been the talk of veteran circles for months.
Two separate National Service schemes were run in Australia and 287,000 men were called upon for compulsory service – 212 of which were killed and 2000 injured.
The first Nashos marched into the Townsville RAAF Base in July 1951 and the second scheme ended in 1972 with some of the men sent to serve their country in Bor- neo and Vietnam.
Townsville has a long and proud tradition of hosting spectacular national events including the VP50 and VP60 celebrations.
Both events drew 75,000 people to The Strand.
Commemorative activities will run between September 8 and 11 and it is understood they will include a parade at The Strand, gala ball, public concert and various other functions including a meet and greet.
N a s h o s T o w n s v i l l e branch president Warren Hegarty said the club’s 3 0 0 - s t r ong membership was thrilled to have beaten the Gold Coast in a bid to host the historic 60th anniversary celebration.
The group is even expecting a contingent of up to 100 guests from New Zealand who participated in a separate form of National Service, the Compulsory Military Training scheme, but nevertheless wanted to support the Nashos due to their strong bonds of mateship.
‘‘ There have been three big reunions. The 50th was in the Gold Coast and 55th in Gosford now the 60th will be in Townsville and it will be the best of all of them,’’ Mr Hegarty said.
‘‘ There’s definitely been a lot of excitement. We’ve heard from people from all over Australia and even New Zealand who want to come along for the big event.
‘‘ Last year when they o p e n e d t h e N a t i o n a l Servicemen memorial for us in Canberra, there were 4000 people there and we took down flyers letting them know we’re having the celebration in Townsville so the excitement has been building since then.
‘‘ Nashos are . . . part of Australia’s history and we need to remember them.’’