Making history 50 years ago: The Port Macquarie Anzac Day march was at its most impressive as 400 returned servicemen marched down Horton Street

READY: Life Member of the RSL Club, Percy Heath, prepares for the Anzac Day march, 1971.

READY: Life Member of the RSL Club, Percy Heath, prepares for the Anzac Day march, 1971.

Yesterday's commemoration of Anzac Day will go on record as one of the most impressive in 56 years and its simplicity and sincerity had many highlights.

A glorious dawn, full of promise for the future, greeted the 103 returned men who marched to the Memorial on the harbour side.

Large contingent: Ex-Servicemen in the Anzac Day march along Horton Street, 1971.

Large contingent: Ex-Servicemen in the Anzac Day march along Horton Street, 1971.

Boer War veteran Joe Malby took his place beside eight original Anzacs (including ex-Senator Harry Foll, Fred Johnston, Barney Turner, and Perc Harrison) at the 11am commemoration service.

Just short of 400 returned men marched and 380 dinners were served at the reunion dinner. A sparkling, sunny day, similar to that which the Anzacs saw at Gallipoli, prevailed for the commemoration.

Lest we forget: RSL Sub-branch president, Dr Harry Hodgson places a wreath at the Port Macquarie War Memorial, 1971.

Lest we forget: RSL Sub-branch president, Dr Harry Hodgson places a wreath at the Port Macquarie War Memorial, 1971.

No more perfect place for a commemorative service could be found than that which accommodated more than 1000 people at the harbour-side site of Port Macquarie's War Memorial.

It was a stirring scene as the standard bearers - Neil Huntley (AIF), John Dingle (Air Force), and two serving personnel Private Kevin Murray, Vietnam, and Petty Officer Dennis de Silva, led the quarter-mile march to the war memorial.

Marching proudly: Ex-Servicewomen in the Anzac Day march, 1971.

Marching proudly: Ex-Servicewomen in the Anzac Day march, 1971.

Boer War veteran, Joe Malby drove ahead of the First World War contingent that numbered close to 100 and the Municipal Band was interspersed ahead of the 180 men of World War II, followed by the RSL Youth Club and the Cubs.

Port Macquarie Singers, under the baton of Stan Low, and with Frank Batger, a delightful soloist, helped to make the occasion a memorable one.

RSL president Dr Harry Hodgson presided and League Sub-branch secretary Dick Bawden introduced the wreath laying ceremony.

Paying respect: Remembering those who served at the Anzac Day Commemorative Service, 1971.

Paying respect: Remembering those who served at the Anzac Day Commemorative Service, 1971.

The address was given by Father Leo Donnelly.

Beautifully set out for a sumptuous meal, the RSL Club's auditorium presented a welcoming scene to the exceedingly large crowd of RSL members, guests and a sprinkling of returned servicewomen, last Sunday.

The RSL Women's Auxiliary had, as usual, gone to no end of trouble to ensure an enjoyable and happy reunion dinner.

The RSL Sub-branch president presided and after grace had been offered, he extended a hearty welcome to the large gathering.

Excellent attendance: Dr Harry Hodgson gives a hearty welcome to those attending the Anzac Day Reunion Dinner, 1971.

Excellent attendance: Dr Harry Hodgson gives a hearty welcome to those attending the Anzac Day Reunion Dinner, 1971.

Several toasts followed. Responding to one of the toasts, ex-Senator Harry Foll, of Port Macquarie, said he was the only parliamentarian alive of those who first put the Repatriation Act on the statues in 1917.

At that, it's hard to discard my age, he said. In 30 years as a senator, and for a term as Minister for Repatriation, ex-Senator Foil said he had had a close association with the RSL.

Our repatriation efforts, he said, compare very favourably with all other countries.

RSL Club president Ken Radley had great pleasure in thanking the women's auxiliary for "the magnificent dinner" provided.

There were 22 women assembled to hear the vote of thanks, and Mr Radley said these women can at the one time serve more meals than any other club in the state.

In the absence of Mrs Jackson, Mrs. Rae Bale thanked the auxiliary workers and the returned men for the toast to them.

Mr Radley also thanked Max Lewis and Alan Ranger for the parts they had played in making the dinner such a success.

This story Flashback: Revisiting Anzac Day as it was commemorated in 1971 first appeared on Port Macquarie News.