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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 128 – The RAN Band

- 128 – The RAN Band is renowned for trying something different, therefore the initiative to provide entertainment prior to the Dawn Service and on completion of the Lone Pine Service should come as no surprise. To see approximately 8,000 Aussies at Lone Pine doing the ‘Mexican wave’ while singing out the chorus’s of “I am Australian” and “Khe Sanh”, is something that will remain in my memory bank for along time. It has also set precedence for service bands that represent our nation at Gallipoli in future. Another significant highlight for me as the Officer in Charge was the comradely displayed between all elements of the contingent to help each other to get the job done. The members of the Australia’s Federation Guard would not hesitate to give a hand to us when moving equipment and conversely the musicians were always willing to assist the Guard when required. This made for easy management. It was also pleasing to see everyone mix socially as well! Although the deployment was a real team effort I must personally congratulate Able Seaman Beth Winterhalter for her renditions of the bugle calls at both services which she performed under extreme pressure, both professionally and in pretty tough weather conditions. I can honestly say that in 25 years service in the Royal Australian Navy I don’t recall hearing better. Also congratulations to Able Seaman Damian Dowd for his vocal work and entertainment value; a legend in his own right! It would also be remiss of me not to thank Leading Seaman Aaron Geeves for his commitment in organising the jazz and rock ensembles and Petty Officer Kara Williams for the assistance she readily gave me. A member who didn’t deploy but I would like to pay tribute to is Leading Seaman Nat Pollard. Thank you for allowing us to play your composition “Crimson Sand” which I believe you wrote specifically for this occasion. It was a perfect prelude to all of the commemoration services and received much favourable comment from many including the Minister of Defence, the Australian Ambassador to Turkey and the Chief of Air Force. I believe a key measure of success is the positive feedback that you receive. If this is a reflective statement then the RAN Band overwhelmingly accomplished its mission at Gallipoli 2004. Finally, on a personal note I would like to thank the Director for “volunteering” me for the deployment and to the Commandant at the Defence Force School of Music for approving me to attend. All in all it was a wonderful experience and an honour to a part of a deployment of such national significance. Article by Petty Officer Kara Williams The 2004 Gallipoli contingent arrived in Dubai a little over 14 hrs after departing Sydney two hours late a little bit worse for wear and ready for the opportunity to either shop or drop for a few hours! The plane from Dubai to Istanbul was also delayed and a 4 ½ hour journey was eased out over a few more hours! This wasn’t really a problem as the hospitality of the private Maharbar lounge at the airport provided by Emirates Airlines made everyone more than comfortable! Our arrival into Istanbul was met with knife blade precision. The freight was offloaded and our luggage and passports fast tracked while we sat in the VIP lounge of the airport receiving introductions to key personnel and briefs on security, our accommodation and the next day’s activities. A very interesting sight it must have been for the local guides and Military staff assigned to us to see 30 bleary-eyed travel weary military personnel shuffling themselves off the airport bus and into the VIP lounge! The need for an alarm clock was painfully undercut as the local Mosque (a block or so away) started “call to prayer” at around 5am! Was it 5am? Already?! The early wake up call was quickly forgone to the sight of the culinary delights spread from one corner of the hotel restaurant to the other for our breakfast dining pleasure! I’m not so sure I would get used to olives, cheeses, large amounts of pickled meats or tomato and cucumber for breakfast, but the choice for us Aussies in the form of cereals, eggs, sausages, fruits, yoghurt, breads and spreads and the most wonderful teas and coffee were aplenty! Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 129 – It was just as well a hearty breakfast was on offer as the day’s proceedings of a tour of the sites of Istanbul conducted by our allocated guides was non stop but a once in a life time adventure. We were fortunate to visit some of Istanbul’s premier tourist attractions including the Hippodrome and monuments where the crowds used to gather to watch Gladiator Battles, the Blue Mosque, St. Sophia’s (originally a Roman Catholic Church then Mosque and now a museum), the Basilica Cistern and best of all, the Turkish Grand Bazaar! 4000 stalls of shopping pleasure! At one point one of our police escorts was heard to announce: “Step away from the Australians, I repeat, step away from the Australians!” over a loud speaker to the local spruiking salesmen! (This did make the Contingent Commander a little nervous because of the security alerts). We were constantly tailed and looked out for by our own personal men in black and the entire Turkish police force. The gross national earnings for Turkey (particularly from the purchase of leather jackets) was, at very least, doubled in the few hours the contingent spent at the Bazaar! But that wasn’t all our guides had in store for us…. A six-course meal and a dose of the local liquor “Raki” ensured the night was going to be interesting. Local traditional dancers, scantily clad (and extremely talented!) belly dancers made the Padre’s night extremely interesting as one rather voluptuous dancer plonked herself down and proceeded to shimmy her way across the Padre’s lap! Nothing but nothing though was to prepare us for “Singing around the world” with Mr. Charisma himself, the “Julio Inglesias/ Elvis” of Turkey! A musical event we will never have the opportunity to repeat!! Fatigue was starting to show and despite enjoying the whole day’s entertainment, everyone was more than ready to fall into bed and sleep. Call to prayer: 0515! Woo Hoo, a sleep in!!! Today would find us packing bags and getting onto our busses (with our police escort) to travel from Istanbul to the Gallipoli peninsula, a four hour trip by road. On our arrival we were greeted by to local historians who guided us through a most memorable tour of the gravesites and in particular, a visit to ANZAC Cove and Lone pine memorial sites. Each of the memorials were beautifully maintained, an obvious recognition of the kinship and mutual respect between the ANZAC and Turkish nations. The pristine shores of the coves along the peninsula did not, however, belie the terrible loss of predominantly young lives during the Gallipoli campaign. The thought of scaling massive cliffs, cold and wet, with masses of gear strapped to your back and a rifle in your hand while dodging a barrage of fire in the pre-dawn blackness sent a chill right through me. There was, however boundless tales of mateship and gentlemanly candour as ANZACs and Turks exchanges cigarettes, food and other items of comfort during the quieter times and had a respect for one and other as brothers in arms that have carried through to the present. On completion of this most exhilarating experience we bussed down these narrow winding roads to Eccabat where we boarded the ferry for a bit of sea time across the Dardanelles to our accommodation in the seaside town of Cannakie. That evening saw us do our own thing for dinner in the mandatory groups of four or five. The following morning saw us back on the ferry and across to the Peninsula to do some work (yes, work)! We represented Australia in the march past at the Turkish International Service held at Mehmetcik and was also apart of the congregation at the Commonwealth Memorial Service at Cape Helles, where we also provided two buglers for the Last Post and Reveille. In the afternoon a breakdown in communication prevented us from having a sound check at both ANZAC Cove and Lone Pine as we were on a tight time frame to get the Jazz Group and Boss back to Cannaklie for the Australian Embassy ANZAC Day reception that evening. ANZAC Day commenced for us at about 2359 with unwelcomed shake from reception, as we needed to be at our own hired ferry by 0100 to try and beat the traffic across to the Cove. A trait that came to light as we arrived at ANZAC cove at about 0300 on ANZAC morning was that if you tell an Aussie not to do something, it will only make them want to do it more! The forecast “low key” 2004 dawn ceremony was expected to have around a 5000 person attendance, which shortly after, reports swelled to 8000. Nothing was to prepare us for the 14 to 15 thousand die hard pilgrims forming a living carpet on the grassed areas in front of the ANZAC memorial site. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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