Moree’s Eric Carrigan encourages residents to pause and remember on Anzac Day

RETURNED serviceman Eric Carrigan says that while Anzac Day will be like no other in its 100-year history, he encourages the people of Moree to pause and remember past and current armed services personnel from both sides of the ditch who have fought and are still fighting for Australia and New Zealand’s freedom – if only for a few minutes.

“I urge the people of Moree to get out of bed just that little bit earlier and stand in their driveway, just for 15 or 20 minutes,” Mr Carrigan said.

“The Last Post and Reveille will be played from the showground and that will go right across town, which, I think, is a great idea.

“The day has got to be recognised, some way or another, and what is being planned (around Australia) is the best that can be done under these terrible conditions.”

For the past 10 years Mr Carrigan, who served in Malaya in the late 1960s, has been the parade master at Moree’s Anzac Day Dawn Service every second year.

In alternate years he travels to Sydney to march with the mates he served with in the Royal Australian Artillery 107 Field Battery in Malaya.

“Every other year I march under their banner with the friends I served with. There are usually about 16 of us. I’ve spoken to a few of them this week and we’re all going to do different things this year which is OK, but it won’t be the same,” Mr Carrigan said.

Parade Master Eric Carrigan at the Moree Anzac Day Dawn Service in 2018 (Image: Bill Poulos).

The streets tomorrow will be deserted and RSL Clubs across the nation will be closed but tens of thousands of people across Australia – and abroad – will stand proudly and recognise past and current armed services personnel.

Residents are asked to stand at the head of driveways, out on kerbsides and nature strips, atop balconies and on front decks and verandahs and remember the fallen.

Mr Carrigan was 21 when called up for National Service in 1966.

“When I was called up the Malayan confrontation and the war in Vietnam were both going on so I did my national service at Singleton for 10 weeks and then joined the artillery,” Mr Carrigan said.

“I went on to North Head and did 10 weeks artillery training there on 105s. Then I was posted to Holsworthy for about four weeks.

“We were gathered together at Holsworthy and told ‘prepare yourselves and get your affairs in order, you’re off to Saigon or Malacca’,” he said.

Mr Carrigan was posted in Malacca, arriving as an ammunition number. He returned to Australia just over 12 months later a bombardier.

“I went up there for one year and 48 days,” he said.

“We moved from one end of Malaya to the other, from the Thai border right down to Singapore.

“I basically got straight out of the army when I got home because I’d done my two years. I went back to the land at Garah and resumed my life.

“But I made a heck of a lot of nice friends in that two years and, looking back, it didn’t do me that much harm,” he said.

Mr Carrigan, a fourth-generation farmer whose family first settled near Millie in the Moree district in the 1860s, said good recent rain has buoyed the region’s farming sector.

“The one good thing about the Moree district at the moment is that farming is busy – it’s sowing time, and we haven’t had a good season for two years,” he said.

“The district is busy, but not that busy that we can’t recognise Anzac Day, and it’s important that we do,” Mr Carrigan said.

Words and Image: Bill Poulos