SERVING Australia during the World Wars did not mean you had to go overseas.
Many Australians also made sacrifices to serve the country on home soil during World War I and II to keep the country going while many people left their jobs to fight in battles.
During an Anzac Day service on Friday at Anglicare Villages Castle Hill, 90-year-old Joan Elliott shared her experience of serving the nation during World War II.
When she was 16, Ms Elliott lied about her age to get into the Australian Womens’ Land Army.
Ms Elliott left her family behind in Orange and traveled to multiple parts of Australia for three-and-half years during the war.
She harvested asparagus in Bathurst in her first role, helped out with irrigation and was part of the government’s machinery pool in Griffith, and also went to Renmark in South Australia to harvest grapes.
“I didn’t like to miss out on anything,” Ms Elliott said.
“Conditions were harsh, food questionable, and pay was a pittance.
“But we were young, fit, and doing something to keep the heart of life on the land beating.
“We were told we had to be prepared to go anywhere, do anything, work hard and for long hours.
“The spirit of mateship which all of you have no doubt experienced is quite unique, treasured and will never be forgotten.”
During her Anzac Day address, Ms Elliott recalled how she was told to arrive the next day at 6am with a tractor to help build a dam, and when she was asked to drive a two-ton truck full of cabbages for a farmer when she had never been behind the steering wheel of a truck in her life.
She proudly remembers when herself and the other women won the respect of some of the farmers, who were skeptical about the women working on their farms.
“It was unthinkable to let a woman drive loose in their precious orange groves,” Ms Elliott said.
“Time took care of that problem and on one occasion I heard a farmer say to my boss: ‘Be sure to send me one of them girl drivers Charlie, they take more care with the trees’.”
During her speech, Ms Elliott proudly had her medals for civilian service and service in peace time.
She eventually joined the Australian Defence Force for a decade during the 1950s.
Ms Elliott asked people at the service to also think of those who served during the wars at home during Anzac Day commemorations.
Her mother served as a postman during World War I.
“Today I am asking if you will add another dimension to our remembrance thoughts for a formidable force of civilians rarely acknowledged and aptly named by Karen Ingram – Support From the Home Front,” Ms Elliott said.
“[They were] ordinary people doing extraordinary things to support our troops in many and varied ways – producing food, assembling munitions, providing medical services, almost anything where able-bodied men and women could be released for war service.”
Before the service a small parade was conducted.
People who had served in the defence force were warmly applauded as they made their way through the parade and into the church for the service.