By Casey Neill
Dandenong’s Anzac Day commemorations will be a fittingly multi-cultural affair.
“We’re going to have a speaker from the Afghan community as part of our Anzac Day service,” Dandenong Cranbourne RSL Sub-Branch president John Wells said.
“It’s entirely appropriate in 2018 that we no longer see it as a purely Anglo-Saxon occasion.
“We have Sikhs marching with us.
“There were Sikhs in Gallipoli on our side. They were allies in the war.”
Mr Wells encouraged the community to attend a service on Wednesday 25 April.
“It’s about a time of people volunteering to do the hard things,” he said.
“It’s about a time of people who were developing and creating a real pride in this country and in themselves.”
He said Dandenong had strong physical connections to the world wars, starting with its drill hall.
“That’s where the big welcome homes were held,” he said.
“They actually had lots of fundraising celebrations in there, even one where people parked cars around the outside and shone their headlights in because there was no electricity.”
Mr Wells said Hemmings Park was Anzac Park for many years after World War I and The Castle and a tin shed that used to sit beside it “were used as a casualty clearing station, mainly in the Second World War, mainly to service the army camp that was up at Endeavour Hills”.
“The Princes Highway bridge out of the main street of Dandenong is the Peace Memorial Bridge, built after the great war,” he said.
“Some of the trees along there were part of an avenue of honour started in 1919.
“The day they started it, it bucketed rain and they all went home and never really got it done.”
See page 20 for Anzac Day service details.