AT DAYBREAK: Members of the Whitsunday community gathering to pay their respects and lay wreaths at this morning's Anzac Day dawn service in Cannonvale. Photo Sharon Smallwood / Whitsunday Times
AT DAYBREAK: Members of the Whitsunday community gathering to pay their respects and lay wreaths at this morning's Anzac Day dawn service in Cannonvale. Photo Sharon Smallwood / Whitsunday Times Sharon Smallwood

ANZAC DAY: Man honours great uncle who died at Gallipoli

"TAKE a moment and read those names.

"These are important and regular reminders of the losses our nations felt in those darker days."

These were the words of RAAF flying officer Annabelle Hill, the guest speaker at Cannonvale's ANZAC day dawn service.

Guy Tansey was one of the thousands of Whitsunday residents at the service, attending for one of those names in particular - his great uncle, Tasmanian man William Henry Oakley.

Guy Tansey wants to keep the memory alive of his great uncle, fallen Gallipoli soldier William Henry Oakley. Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury
Guy Tansey wants to keep the memory alive of his great uncle, fallen Gallipoli soldier William Henry Oakley. Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury Lucy Smith

"He was one of the first Australians serving in the Australian Defence Force in World World One, and he was one of the first to be killed at the landing in Gallipoli," Mr Tansey explained.

Growing up, Mr Tansey regularly heard family stories about his grandfather's brother, who was just 19 when he was killed.

"He's in an unknown grave. They didn't find his body, so he's over in Turkey," he said.

Mr Tansey's grandfather survived the war, with Mr Tansey and his three brothers all going on to serve in the Australian Defence Force.

Airlie Beach resident Margaret Heeney attended the service in memory of her father Ted Vorland, who was in the rifles division the Second World War.

Ms Heeney was six years old when the war started, and her father, from Griffith in New South Wales, served in Papua New Guinea.

 "He never talked about it. He just talked about how hot it was all the time. Apart from that, not much at all," she said.

"My mum said he was never the same man, ever again. The man who came back wasn't the one who went away."

Mr Vorland passed away in 1967.

"I think all those people who went, it did shorten their lives," Ms Heeney said.

Catherine McManus had two reasons to attend the ceremony - her grandfather served in Egypt in the First World War, and her daughter Sophie is now a cadet.

"We come every year. It's just out of respect," she said.

New Airlie Beach residents James and Liz Fogg brought their children Jasmine, 7, and Micah, 5, along for their first ever dawn service.

"(We've come) to keep the memory alive," Mr Fogg said.

"And so (the kids) have a little bit of an understanding of how lucky they are," Mrs Fogg added.

And these locals were far from alone in commemorating this morning, with Airlie Beach RSL sub branch deputy president Bill Rose commenting on the attendance this year.

"Looking at the crowd, I would assume there are far more here than there were last year and the previous year," he said.

Mr Rose read out the Prayer for Defence at the service, as Chris Yule, who usually takes the role of padre, was hospitalised overnight.

Airlie Norton sang Advance Australia Fair and Lee Taingahue sang the New Zealand anthem.

The Airlie Beach ANZAC march will commence at 8.45am, followed by the main service.


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