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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 130 – Picking our

- 130 – Picking our way through a sea of arms legs sleeping blankets and picnic rugs, we made our way to the hastily constructed stage to the cries of “Yay! The band’s here! Awsome!” Our impromptu sound check was met with roars of appreciation from the crowd. The sounds of Crowded House and Diesel echoed around the hills intermingled with anticipation, elation, sombre remembrance and a willingness to keep the spirit of all that served at Gallipoli and became sons of Turkey forever. At about 0450 it was down to business with the band preparing the crowds for the arrival of the VIP’s and the Dawn Service itself. On completion of the Dawn Service, the contingent and official guests were invited back to the Kum Hotel for ANZAC day’s “shotgun” breakfast banquet. Having left the Hotel in Cannakkale some 12 hours before, the food and beverages (and the odd Bundy and coffee!) were more than welcome to get the two-up rolling into full swing. I think the highlight of breakfast was the boss winning 1,000,000 Turkish Leura ($1.00 AUS) of the Minister for Defence in a game of “Two Up”. (He took it too)!! The Australian service was preceded by a stream of thousands slowly trickling along and up the steep winding roads from ANZAC cove to the memorial at Lone pine. Emotions were high and remembering the Aussie’s that had lost their lives particularly at ANZAC Cove and “The Nek” brought emotions welling up in the faces of the crowd, the ancestor of an original Pine standing gnarled but proud among them. The memorial service culminated in the crowd of approximately 8, 000 coming to its feet. Mexican waves washed around the seating and Australian flags were being waved at every opportunity. The crowd literally roared for the band to play. I have never played for and been part of such an appreciative and proud group of people. The feeling was that of completely uplifting natural high mixed with the sombreness and severity of the reason we were all amassed at this place at this time. Quite unforgettable! After another wonderful banquet for lunch, the contingent heaved themselves into the busses and made for the journey back to the hotel in Cannakkale and those that had the energy celebrated the night away. The realisation that the reason we were here has passed was quite abrupt. It was a strange sensation reflecting as we made our journey back to Istanbul. The service, the day, the colour and ceremony the solemn moments and the elation seemed like so long ago- but it was all just yesterday. I was so glad there would be so many photographs as the whole experience felt more like a dream than reality and I felt I would need a tangible reminder of what we had experienced. As I sit here today at my desk with photographs of the trip on my wall I think to myself how lucky I was to have been part of the experience of the Gallipoli legend. Just setting foot at ANZAC cove was unforgettable enough, let alone being a part of the ceremony to remember the men that not only lost their lives there but help forge the “Australian” character that we all carry with us in some part today. This, I will never forget. Article by Able Seaman Beth Winterhalter It was the day before Anzac Day, and all through the band, the excitement was growing and the nerves were rising. Rehearsals went well. Services at the Turkish Memorial and Commonwealth Memorial went off without a hitch. Able Seaman Sampson played the bugle at the Commonwealth Memorial Service and I played the echo. The first real gig for the trip was finally here. I couldn’t believe it. The next day was Anzac Day. THE DAY!! We were required to be up at 0001 hours. The Contingent Commander made wake up calls to every room, to ensure all personnel were ready. I was really excited as we boarded the ferry at 0130 to cross the Dardanelles. It was very eerie at this time of the morning, cold, dark and extremely windy. But not raining which was a blessing. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 131 – We arrived at Anzac Cove at around 0240. The buses stopped short of the cove, and we were informed that this was as far as the buses were going. There were too many people to go any further, and that a satellite picture had shown more than 15,000 people were in attendance already. The first image I saw (after getting off the bus) was a huge mass of bodies, lying and standing every where, dancing, cheering singing. The massive TV screens with the Australian Flag on them and a DJ playing really loud Aussie music. The vibe was so awesome. I was not nervous; this just made me want to get up in front of the 15,000 people (and the whole world) and show them what I could do. I just wanted to play with such honour on this extremely important day - ANZAC DAY!! The funny thing is the day before I was really nervous, Lieutenant Cottier had asked me how I was feeling about it all and I said “to tell you the truth sir I’m petrified!! He said “you’ll be right…I have total faith in you……” Some how I seemed to absorb the positive vibe and the excitement from the crowd, which gave me the courage I needed. So the service began. It was cold and really windy, the ropes were banging vigorously against the flagpoles and the dawn began to break. The waves were crashing behind us, and the blue glow of the sun began to highlight the Gallipoli ridges and the sphinx. At that point the snipers came into view. They were everywhere; on the ridges, the roads and in amongst the scrub. Before going on the trip I was concerned something bad was going to happen due to the media coverage, which had been so intense regarding terrorism. People had been advised not to attend the Gallipoli service and here I was a lone bugler standing out the front, a perfect target. However to this point nothing had happened. There were reports that there were more military personnel on the Gallipoli Peninsula on Anzac Day 2004, than in 1915 when the battle occurred; so we were very safe. My time came and I was to leave the band and mount the Bugler’s Box. By this stage my hands were freezing and blue, and not much feeling in them at all. (and, I had three layers of thermals on as well as long-johns!! Lucky for them or I would have been frozen). I was just glad the bugle didn’t have any valves. I may not have had enough movement in my fingers to press them down. I put my cornet down and adjusted my uniform, rubbed my hands vigorously to get the blood flowing and said to my self “This is it!!” This is what I had come to do, and I was so pumped to do it. I walked behind the monument wall and mounted the box, carefully, trying not to be blown off by the wind. I came into position and waited for the moment to come. I was finally there. Standing on the Bugle Box and waiting to play the Last Post and Reveille. It seemed to take forever for this day to come. I was so proud to be standing in front of the whole world, so honoured to have been chosen to play the bugle at the most important service on ANZAC DAY. I kept thinking how lucky I was - a girl from a small country town in Victoria, chosen to play the bugle at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli. An opportunity I had only dreamed of since joining the Navy. The ode was read, I began to play, praying to god that there were no glitches. It was a spine tingling experience; so much emotion came over me. The Last Post was over. I could see tears flowing from people in the crowd. The sombre mood and the goose bumps began to rise. I began to count to 120 (for the two minutes silence) when just before I got to 120 some idiot in the crowd blew a toy trumpet. They just couldn’t help themselves. Inconsiderate person!! It startled me a little, but thankfully didn’t upset my performance. I then brought the bugle up once again and played The Army Reveille. Being a Navy Bugler I had never performed this call before, and so again prayed there would be no slips. All calls went perfectly. I was so happy and was still really pumped. The cheer from the crowd afterward was amazing. Once completed I remember thinking “I’m still alive, I didn’t get snipered, or blown up.” I was very happy. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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