Tributes paid to Anzac heroes at special service

Senior officers preparing to lay wreaths at the Anzac cermeony. Picture courtesy of YCS Photography and RAFA.
Senior officers preparing to lay wreaths at the Anzac cermeony. Picture courtesy of YCS Photography and RAFA.

A poignant ceremony was held on Sunday to honour ten brave airmen who lost their lives in the Second World War, as part of Anzac Day commemorations.

Organised by the Newcastle branch of the RAF Association, the service at East Chevington cemetery honoured the servicemen from Australia and New Zealand who are buried at the site.

Air Training Coprs cadets from Bedlington Squadron who took part in the parade. Picture courtesy of YCS Photography and RAFA.

Air Training Coprs cadets from Bedlington Squadron who took part in the parade. Picture courtesy of YCS Photography and RAFA.

This year’s tribute coincided with the 100-year anniversary of the landing of Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops at Gallipoli, on April 25, 1915, during the First World War.

Fittingly, Sunday’s turn-out was the biggest there has been in the annual ceremony’s history, with more than 250 people attending. Sydney Graham, of Newcastle RAFA, said: “This year’s service exceeded our expectations. It was the biggest ever and we had people come from overseas.

“It was a solemn atmosphere, which was a fitting tribute to the lads who are buried and resting peacefully in Chevington. It is nice to remember them.”

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was represented by Squadron Leader Derek Reinhardt, while New Zealand was represented by Lieutenant Commander Kane Sutherland.

The service was also attended by North Durham MP Kevan Jones, who represented the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as veteran members of the RAF Association and local residents, among others.

The ceremony started with the playing of the Australian and New Zealand national anthems, followed by prayers which were led by RAF Padre Paul Rennie.

Wreaths were laid on the RAF memorial by RAF Boulmer, the RAAF, the New Zealand Defence Forces, RAFA Newcastle, RAFA Hartlepool, the Royal British Legion, Northumberland County Council, Chevington Parish Council and the local community.

Cadets from the Air Training Corps placed poppy crosses on each of the ten Anzac graves before the Act of Remembrance, which included the exhortation read by Newcastle RAFA Branch vice-chairman Michael Collins, and the playing of the Last Post and Reveille.

Lt Cdr Sutherland and Sqn Ldr Reinhardt each gave an address about the significance of Anzac in their countries and the ceremony ended with a march-past where Wing Commander Richard Sharp took the salute.