22 May 2024

Centenary celebrations to immortalise sacrifices of Bega Valley veterans

| Claire Sams
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the Bega Soldiers' Memorial Gate

Bega-RSL Sub-Branch president Gary Berman says the centenary celebrations will bring people from across the Bega Valley together. Photo: Supplied.

A historic set of gates in Bega will be a focal point as the community looks back through time and commemorates the impact of past conflicts.

The Bega Soldiers’ Memorial Gates were originally erected to commemorate soldiers who died in World War I.

“It was opened by the mothers and wives of the soldiers that were killed,” said Bega-RSL Sub-Branch president Gary Berman.

“They were the ones who pulled the flags aside to open it up, and that was followed by a ceremony and then a march in the street.”

Mr Berman has spent months alongside other RSL members and other community members planning a ceremony for Saturday (25 May), to mark the centenary.

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The public is invited to gather for the parade in Gipps Street (near Club Bega) at 10 am.

“We have people related to the 66 soldiers who got killed [in the First World War] and are on the memorial bringing up photographs of the soldier and hanging it on the wall,” he said.

“Then, we’ll have laying of wreaths and guest speakers and a band.

“Veterans who are old and infirm will be brought along in vintage cars or old cars, and then we’ll have the Light Horse escort followed by the pony club as well.”

Saturday will also see the formal opening and dedication of a nearby mural with scenes from major conflicts, painted by Terri Tuckwell.

“On each of those panels, we’ve got a local person who was involved in each conflict,” he said.

“The mural will be similar to what they do on silos and since we’re country NSW, we thought that we could have one.

“We did a bit of research and found there were relations left in Bega that are related to all those people who are on the wall, representing each of the conflicts.”

In the lead up to the centenary, the memorial gates were also restored.

“We’ve also had all the names of the soldiers from the First World War who were killed in action and the name – Bega Soldiers’ Memorial – reguilded,” Mr Berman said.

“The bloke whose done the guilding is an old-fashioned guilder. It just looks very, very impressive.”

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For Mr Berman, the memorial serves as an important reminder.

“The memorial gate is a focal point for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day commemorations in Bega Valley,” he said.

“It’s also a constant reminder of the sacrifices of men and women who participated in all those wars, and honours them for their sacrifices.

“It’s a great honour to be able to be involved with this.

“I’ll never see the second centenary – that’s for sure – so it’s been a great honour to bring it forward.

The centenary celebrations will be held on 25 May (Saturday), with the parade to start in Gipps Street (near Club Bega) at 10 am.

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