Thou­sands pay their re­spects

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By TERESA HAT­TAN and ABBY BROWN

De­spite the thou­sands in at­ten­dance, an eerie si­lence fell on all those present for the largest dawn ser­vice Mata­mata has seen in living mem­ory.

Ser­vice per­son­nel, com­mu­nity groups, fam­i­lies and friends all gath­ered out­side the Mata­mata Civic Cen­tre as the sun rose on a new day, a day 100 years ago which saw blood­shed at Gal­lipoli.

The pa­rade and then the crowd were then in­vited to pay their re­spects by lay­ing a poppy at the base of the me­mo­rial shrine in­side the town’s civic cen­tre.

Along with the dawn ser­vice, a cer­e­mony was held at the Mata­mata ceme­tery.

Speak­ing at the civic ser­vice, which at­tracted a crowd of hun­dreds, Bap­tist min­is­ter Ian Gold­man re­flected that sol­diers had sac­ri­ficed their lives, like Je­sus had sac­ri­ficed his life.

Deputy mayor James Thomas said a war that started with a sense of ex­cite­ment ended with fam­i­lies griev­ing the loss of fa­thers, broth­ers and sons.

Mata­mata Col­lege head girl Caitlin Lang­lands, who spoke on be­half of head boy Con­nor Paki and the school, quoted the head girl of the col­lege at the start of WWI, who re­mem­bered the solemn leav­ing cer­e­monies for the stu­dents turned sol­diers con­ducted at the col­lege.

Mata­mata RSA pres­i­dent Graeme Water­son ‘‘couldn’t re­sist plug­ging the fact’’ that at 0900 hours on that day his fa­ther and his troop had landed on the beach at Gal­lipoli.

For the first time, as part of a gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive, the cer­e­mony was ended with both the Aus­tralian and New Zealand na­tional an­thems.

At Wal­ton’s civic ser­vice, along with the min­is­ter’s re­flec­tion and a speech by Mata­mata Col­lege deputy head boy Keiran Watkins, two men spoke of their dad’s ex­pe­ri­ence with war.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict coun­cil­lor Bob McGrail spoke of his fa­ther, Regi­nald Ge­orge McGrail, who served in WWI from 1916 to 1919.

Regi­nald, then 16, en­listed un­der his mum’s maiden name and lied about his age.

This has made it hard for Bob to get re­place­ment medals, as his fa­ther’s were buried with him. Regi­nald and three broth­ers, who were also in the army, re­turned home safely.

This was de­spite Regi­nald be­ing wounded, suf­fer­ing through gassing and be­ing buried alive in an ex­plo­sion.

Bob said his fa­ther, who died when he was 11, was like a stranger to him be­cause he was in and out of hos­pi­tal due to de­bil­i­tat­ing de­pres­sion as a re­sult of his ser­vice.

Derek Lug­ton read from his fa­ther, John Stu­art Lug­ton’s, war di­ary to a stand­ing- room- only Wal­ton hall.

An ini­tial med­i­cal test re­vealed John, then 21, had a her­nia. He pushed it back in and got tested by an­other doc­tor. He was sent to Egypt dur­ing WWII.

He was cap­tured and taken as a Prisoner Of War. He es­caped from two dif­fer­ent camps.

Af­ter the suc­cess­ful es­cape, where he racked up 600 miles of walk­ing, he was sent home to New Zealand and dis­charged in 1944. Derek said his dad told him from then on he would never let any­one tell him what to do.

– For full cov­er­age of the Mata­mata and Wal­ton ser­vices, along with sev­eral Mata­mata school’s own spe­cial com­mem­o­ra­tions, the un­veil­ing of Mata­mata’s very own Gal­lipoli Gar­den and Ro­tary Mata­mata’s Me­mo­rial Walk­way, see in­side.

David White’s daugh­ters, from left, Jen­nifer Cros­bie, Christine Clay and Mar­garet Wy­att at­tended Mata­mata’s An­zac dawn and ceme­tery ser­vices on Satur­day with their fa­ther’s medals. The trio re­call their muchloved and dearly missed dad on page 2.

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