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Villa Maria recognises Anzac centenary

Victoria's Bundoora seniors will acknowledge the centenary of Anzac when they join the federal Member for Batman, the Hon David Feeney MP, at the unveiling of a commemorative plaque next week.
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The plaque, inscribed to reflect the Anzac Centenary, is being erected in the grounds of Villa Maria’s aged care residence in Plenty Road, Bundoora.

The plaque, inscribed to reflect the Anzac Centenary, is being erected in the grounds of Villa Maria’s aged care residence in Plenty Road, Bundoora.

The plaque was funded under the federal government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program.

Villa Maria has cared for many returned service people and those with family members who went to war since its inception in 1907, and continues to care for generations of families with strong ties to WWI.

Resident, Maurie Gerdtz, 92, was serving with the 19th Machine Gun Battalion in Darwin when the Japanese bombed the city during World War II.

“I was on the edge of the aerodrome when the Japanese planes approached us. I can remember the first day when the bombs started dropping,” he says.

“I had an old machine gun with only 17 rounds of ammo which would only last 17 seconds.

“The commander came out and said ‘forget about that gun, son, and get some shelter’.

“I found the nearest tree. This was the first lot of planes at 10am, then at midday 52 planes were sent in. I lay on the ground on my back and watched the Japanese planes fly over me.”

Villa Maria chief executive, Greg Pullen, says with such strong linkages to the great wars, it is only fitting Villa Maria recognised the Anzac centenary.

“This memorial will not only commemorate the Centenary of Anzac Day on 25 April, but ensure it is remembered well into the future,” Mr Pullen says.

“The memorial will be set in a rose garden where people can sit and reflect, and will enable families and friends to congregate to commemorate the First World War.”

Mr Pullen will join Mr Feeney to unveil the plaque at 2:30pm on Thursday, 9 April.

Mr Feeney, the federal Member for Batman, the Shadow Veteran’s Affairs Minister, and Shadow Minister for the Centenary of Anzac said: “It is always my pleasure to help commemorate the Centenary of Anzac with members of the Villa Maria Society and the larger Batman community.

“The Villa Maria Society is just one of several organisations that are using the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program to help commemorate the Centenary of Anzac in Batman.

“This grant has allowed the members of the Villa Maria Society to make their own contribution to the Anzac Centenary, and remember all those who served.”

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