It was not the smoke of battle filling the air throughout Armidale on Remembrance Day. It was thick smoke from a number of bushfires, both on the Northern Tablelands and down the eastern escarpment, and there was little doubt it kept many away from the ceremony this year.
President of the Armidale RSL Max Tavener said, considering the conditions of bush fire and drought, he understood why this year's crowd was down to about 150 people.
"Today being rather smokey, I was surprised at the amount of elderly who did turn up, considering the conditions would have been a little bit bad on their throats and all that," he said.
"I gave up smoking nine years ago, but this morning, fair dinkum ... "
Mr Tavener congratulated Air Cadet Sergeant Isobelle Dick, the youngest speaker on the morning.
"She has a connection with an identity. Her great-uncle was officer commanding 73 Squadron of Kittyhawks at Milne Bay," he said.
"During that campaign he lost his life. He's revered in Glen Innes and the story is a great story when you read the book."
Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said he thought there had been a downturn across a number of weekend events.
"Yes, a lot of people are a bit nervous about our future, as far as the weather goes, and I believe this was one of the causes," he said.
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