Families of Anzacs lay wreathes in tribute
The family members of three local Anzacs have paid their respects by laying floral wreathes at Acacia House’s memorial garden.
Annette Cortese, Lyn Reeves and Harry Brittain yesterday participated in the moving ceremony at Shepparton's Tarcoola Village.
More than 40 residents were present at the service Shepparton RSL president Peter McPhee presented.
Mrs Cortese's grandfather Rocco Villani served in World War I in Italy and her father Mick Villani fought in World War II.
Mr Villani's camp was at Alamein in Egypt, but within a few months he was captured and placed in the "pens".
He was issued with a tent to sleep in with seven other people and a bag of straw to sleep on, and he stayed there for the next 3½ years.
Mr Villani taught himself to crochet using the end of an old toothbrush, unfavelling old socks to make hats and pullovers to keep his fellow prisoners warm.
A few years later he resettled in Australia, buying a farm in Dhurringile before moving to Mooroopna.
He is a resident at Acacia House.
Mrs Reeves' grandfather Vincent Billarroya arrived in Australia at a young age and worked as a market gardener before joining the army as a interpreter.
He also worked at the prisoner of war camp at Tatura.
To thank him, the prisoners made a tapestry with Mr Billarroya's name woven into it, which today hangs at Tatura's War Museum.
Mr Brittain's father Ralph joined the army in 1914 when he was 18 years old.
Ralph's career had its ups and downs and on several occasions he was "reduced to the ranks", but he always re-earned his commission.
He was awarded the Military Cross in 1920 for his courage and leadership.
Acacia House staff member Margaret Tenace, who organised the service, said it was well received.
"It was a respectful ceremony that brought our families together to celebrate Anzac Day", Mrs Tenace said. "Each resident held very special memories of their loved ones".
By Estelle Griepink
As published in the Shepparton News, Friday 25th April 2014