Beneath a cloudy sky, a crowd of close to 100 gathered at the Ramornie cenotaph on April 24 to pay their respects and commemorate the 71st anniversary of one of the most decisive battles of the Korean War (1950-1953), the Battle of Kapyong.
During three days of conflict between April 23-25 in 1951, two Commonwealth battalions, the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment (2PPCLI), and the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), were positioned in the Kapyong Valley as part of the United Nations operation to hold a defensive line against a communist Chinese advance towards the South Korean capital Seoul.
More than 30 Australians died, close to 60 were wounded, and three were taken prisoner as the gallant efforts of the Commonwealth forces prevented the Chinese 60th Division from advancing.
In recognition of their efforts, the Australian and Canadian battalions were each awarded a United States Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.
As the service alongside the Ramornie cenotaph commenced, the Canadian and United States flags flew peacefully in the background in a show of respect, as South Grafton RSL Chapter representatives Fred Norris and Barry Whalley conducted the ceremony.
Following the Anzac Address, which was read by Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, wreaths were respectfully laid at the base of the cenotaph and alongside a plaque commemorating the many animals who also served in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.
A lament was played by piper Ivan McLennan before Lynne Caldwell stepped up to the microphone and proudly read the commemoration to the fallen, followed by the Last Post and Ode as the crowd bowed their heads in unity and observed one minutes silence before the sounding of Rouse filled the air.
Honourable Secretary of the Grafton RSL sub-Branch Denis Benfield delivered the closing prayer, followed by the Australian and British national anthems.
At the conclusion of the service, Mr Norris and Mr Whalley thanked the crowd for their attendance and also acknowledged two special guests, Steve Blackadder, and his mount Little Eagle, who proudly represented the Light Horsemen, and more than 130000 Australian horses who served in WWI, and never returned to their homeland.
As his rider spent time chatting with attendees, Little Eagle stood contentedly and was happy to be lavished with plenty of pats and scratches from several admirers at the conclusion of the ceremony.
Lest we forget.