The 2016 ANZAC Day address was given by Alan R Townsend RAE (Sapper) ARA (Retired). Mr Townsend also works at Lachlan Shire Council as the Manager Building Services.
Today we come together not to celebrate battles or to glorify wars, but to honour and remember those who have served and who are currently serving in all conflicts as Australians protecting Australians, their way of life, and the freedom to enjoy, through selfless sacrifices they have endured.
The spirit of the ANZAC was bequeathed to all Australians, by young Australian diggers and New Zealand soldiers, on the 25 April 1915 at Gallipoli, and now is our National Day of Commemoration.
At Gallipoli the ANZAC fought a formidable enemy, with ferocious intensity, at all cost, over the harshest of terrain and at such a young age, some didn’t even shave. The campaign was lost, some 8,000 diggers had given their lives, and more than 24,000 soldiers were wounded, before the final withdrawal creating the ANZAC legend to be born.
The Australian’s didn’t take kindly to the loss of her sons, forcing the World and the Empire to recognise their value, their worth. Australia, a young country, 14 years old, was now given a bond, of courage, determination, of fighting prowess, of mateship and larrikinism, and they proved they were the best.
The first Australians to serve in a foreign campaign, was a NSW contingent in the Sudan War in 1885, and at the turning of the century, Australians again saw service in the Boer War. The Great War to end all wars, saw Australia drawn into World War I, declared by others with a sense of duty to the Empire, King and Country. The first contingents were all volunteers with firm beliefs this was the basis of ferocity which created the ANZAC legend. The Australians and New Zealanders acquitted themselves with distinction throughout the Great War with heavy losses through Turkey, France, Belgium and Egypt, and to the ultimate success to end the Great War.
Let us pay our respects and remember all service men and women, at home and abroad, who have sacrificed their freedom, so that we as Australians can live a lifestyle enjoyed by all. To be safe and secure, with protection of rights, in a humane environment, with that ANZAC Spirit looking over us at night.
We pay our respects and remember those who gave the supreme sacrifice defending our country in all campaigns from the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the service of all who have served Australia in Peace Keeping and multi-national campaigns or operational service around the world.
In Australia today, with terrorism and evil on our doorstep, serving our nation means much more than the foreign campaigns, therefore we must also, pay our respects to the Emergency Services, keeping us safe from harm’s way, guided by the ANZAC Spirit. I once worked for an Emergency Services Commissioner, and in a hostile situation, he looked me in the eye and said, “Whatever it takes”, a true expression of the ANZAC tradition.
We should remember and pay our respects to those who have supported our service men and women in service and returning from service, because unfortunately they change both physically and mentally from the service that they have given and endured.
There are no winners in war, just legends born, from every day men and women, not wanting to die, but willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, for abnormalities or war, so that we may enjoy what Australia is today, your freedom of choice, and your right to have your say.
Today I would like to make a special mention of the last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel, Mr Faole Bokoi of the Manari Village, who passed away on the 7 March 2016. The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, fighting for freedom in their own country, helped save many a digger’s life as bearers and guides, on the Kokoda Track in World War II, and just like our ANZAC’s, they became legends and a spirit reincarnated from the horrors of war.
I would now like to read a poem written by a Digger about those Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
“Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”
Many a mother in Australia
When their busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
For the keeping of her son
Asking that an angel guide him
And bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers answered
On the Owen Stanley Track
For they haven’t any halos
Only holes slashed in their ears
And their faces worked by tattoos
With scratch pins in their hair
Bringing back the badly wounded
Just as steady as a horse
Using leaves to keep the rain off
As gentle as a nurse
Slow and careful in the bad places
On the awful mountain track
The look upon their faces
Would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded
As they treat him like a saint
It’s a picture worth recording
That an artist’s yet to paint
Many a lad will see his mother
And husband see their wives
Just because a Fuzzy Wuzzy
Carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire
Or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors
At the bottom of the track
May the mothers of Australia
When they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels
With their fuzzy wuzzy hair.
Written by Bert Beros Sapper. Bert a veteran of both WWI and WWII, wrote this poem whilst fighting on the Owen Stanley Track in the highlands of New Guinea. Like myself, Bert wasn’t famous, just a Digger, a Sapper and a Combat Engineer.
For my final words of commemoration today. I have written my own short poem.
Please let us all remember,
And never ever forget,
Who gave you what you’ve got today,
Don’t take it all for granted,
Our diggers pay the price,
Remembering the Spirit of the ANZACS,
And the ultimate sacrifice.
Reliving old war memories, Ron L’Estrange of Condobolin and Geoff Leyson of Sydney, two old Commandos caught up after more than 65 years.
They were both members of C Troop 2/7th Commando Unit during WW2 in New Guinea. As Commandos they lived in the bush amongst the Japanese, where they spied and set deadly ambushes. They did this by going out in small groups of three to six men called patrols. A fighting patrol went out specifically to ambush and engage the enemy whilst a normal patrol was sent to garner information. It was all done on foot through rugged terrain and in jungle conditions enduring constant hardships and sickness.
Geoff brought along a map of the extensive areas that they had operated in and it brought back many memories of past battles as they studied it together.
Geoff and his wife June then joined Ron and the L’Estrange family for a very enjoyable lunch at the home of Marcelle and Peter May.
The Final Inspection
by: Sgt Joshua Helterbran
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?”
The soldier squared his shoulders and
said, “No, Lord, I guess I ain’t,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
“Step forward now, you soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”
By Sally Willoughby
Condobolin will recognise and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the men and women who fought for our country this Anzac Day Sunday 25 April in ceremonies including a Dawn Service and street march through the town.
Commemorations will be held to mark the 95th anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War
“This is one of the most significant days on the calendar where our local residents and those across Australia can recognise our Anzacs and be thankful for what they sacrificed for their nation,” said President of the Condobolin RSL Sub-branch Keith Hartin.
The Dawn Service will be held at Memorial Park at 5.45am with a breakfast at the RSL held after the service.
At 10.15 marchers including a catafalque from the Royal Australian Air Force stationed at Wagga Wagga will meet outside the Condobolin RSL Club to begin the street march which will finish with the laying of the wreaths and an address by Sergeant Andrew Barrowcliff at Memorial Park.
Tribute to the Australian Women’s Land Army
“We were taken as the land army at the time. It was only after the war [that] they started [saying] we weren’t a recognised army, but when the war was on, oh! Yes, we were well and truly the recognised army.”
The Australian Women’s Land Army (AWLA) was established as a national organisation on 27 July 1945 to combat the rising labour shortages in the agricultural industry with the recruitment of men into the Australian Military.
The Land army focused on securing military and civilian requirements for food production until its disbandment on 31 December 1945.
AWLA recruits or ‘land girls’ as they were called were between 18 and 50 years of age and were required to be of British origin or immigrants from an allied nation and were recruited to perform most duties involved with the primary industry including ploughing, fruit-picking, work on dairy farms, mustering, work in a piggery and sheep and wool work and general rural duties.
As many members of the AWLA were urban women, formal farm training was given along with a distinctive dress uniform, working clothes, badges and equipment to full-time members.
Working an average of 48 hours a week, the minimum wage was 30 shillings a week with benefits including sick leave.
A Land Army was established in each state with peak enrolment reached in December 1943 with 2382 full-time members and 1039 auxiliary members.