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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 164 – It was now

- 164 – It was now late afternoon and it was time to head to Anzac Cove to get settled in for our performances that evening and find some sleep somewhere in between before the Dawn Service. On arrival, Anzac Cove was already showing healthy numbers of Australian and New Zealand people clad in all their pride. The grass looked like a patch-work quilt with bodies sprawled over sleeping bags and rugs. Some people were kicking a footy around, others having a yak with total strangers, but there was an overall feeling of being back home and I felt a sense of comfort and relaxed into the whole atmosphere nicely. We had two large tents at the rear of the site to kick back in and I was able to find a nice spot in the girls tent close enough to the heater where later on that evening I would throw my head down and try a grab a few hours sleep. 8pm came around and it was time for the Royal Australian Navy Band to kick off the interpretive program which would run right through the night until the Dawn service. We played songs of the era for half an hour after which we received something like a rock concert-like reception from the now 8000 strong crowd. This really was a massive buzz to us all and after a few snappy high 5s and a few low ones, we trotted back up into the tent until our next performance at half 11. I with a few others decided to grab a little sleep and had no trouble drifting off, that was until this unknown guy (his face will haunt my dreams) leapt into our tent and preceded to cut great gapping holes into the roof of our tent letting out all the precious warm air which was replaced by a stream of air that was colder than my first girlfriend’s Father’s face the day I turned up to her house to take her out on out first date, yeah that cold! The same arrangement for our entertainment went on for the 11.30pm performance and the crowd was now in excess of 10,000 people. Upon completion of our last song the crowd as one burst into a thank you I am sure none of us would ever forget. It took away the freezing sensation from us all and filled our hearts giving us all a real presence of what we were doing was truly appreciated and meant a great deal to everyone there who had travelled great distances to pay their own tribute and respects to the greatest bunch of Australians and New Zealanders. After another hour or so of sleep in our now wonderfully air conditioned tent it was time for me to get up and prepare myself for the Dawn Service. Up until now all my rehearsals for the bugle call had gone smoothly but now it was time to throw in a bitterly freezing cold wind and a truck load of nerves to boot plus some fair sleep deprivation as well. I warmed up for a good two hours, and with trusty Blistex lip ointment which was going on every 15 mins now, things were feeling really good. Unlike before when the crowd was enjoying each others company and getting into the whole ANZAC experience, you could have heard a pin drop as we made our way down the hill towards the memorial. It was extremely eerie but incredible at the same time to see such respect shown for something that took place here 92 years ago. During the service we heard some great stories of what took place that fateful day plus some really moving tributes especially from our Defence Minister the Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson M.P who gave truly one of the most articulate, knowledgeable and heart-felt speeches I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. I asked him later that day who his speech writer was and he said he writes all his own speeches, to which I said "you’re a pretty amazing bloke Sir and obviously a very passionate Australian". The Royal Australian Navy Band and a small number of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band who had joined us for the day played really beautifully, and Tracy Burke sang like an angel during the service. It was a real pleasure to sit there and listen to what was described as the old-mates band, but they rose above the less than ideal conditions and played their hearts out for our diggers. Now came my turn, I had the fortune of not playing during the service so my lips were rested and prepared. I stood up and marched out a little earlier while the wreaths were still being laid. This gave me a bit more time to look around and take in peoples’ faces, the Cove and the awesome terrain that lay in front of me. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 165 – I remember looking up at the sphinx then back down at the Australian "Fanatics" who had all locked arms around each others shoulders, some had even began to cry as the Ode was being read, and what I said in my mind was " to be proud mate of who you are and where you’re from, you’re a bloody Aussie, come on". The bugle call went very smoothly and I felt relaxed and knew I had all the time in the world. This was one of the three most memorable moments of my life to date. After the service I took a bit of time for myself to reflect upon the whole experience. Coming here with only a patchy idea of what took place leading up to, during and after the battles; I now had a fair understanding of what I had just participated in. To say I didn't shed a tear that day would be a lie and it really is a place we as Australians should make an effort to visit as it stands for everything we hold dear to our hearts. These were some of the greatest men this world would ever see; it was a defining moment in my life and has changed me forever. At 11am it was time for the Lone Pine service. The whole contingent had been really looking forward to this as it was a chance for us as Australians alone to pay our respects to the finest of our soldiers in one of the bloodiest battles that took place on the peninsula. Some 4,932 ANZAC's lost their lives over a stretch of ground no bigger than a footy field. Probably the greatest moment was the Defence Minister's speech. After remarking on his Dawn Service speech, what he delivered next will stay with me for all time, especially his closing remarks. "Our generation owes theirs a debt we can barely comprehend - let alone repay. But foremost it is too surely, "Keeping their memory". Can we not, in every workplace, school and home, hang the photograph of just one of them who gave his all - his life, for Australia? They are us and we are them. Lest We Forget". The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, Minister for Defence. Once again the Royal Australian Navy Band played from their hearts, and when it came to my call, my nerves were overridden by an overbearing sense of pride and all went well. I hope these few words I have written above give you some idea of really how much this trip meant to me. It was an absolute privilege going away with everyone involved and what each one of us took away from our experiences will no doubt well inside our minds and hearts till the day we die. NAVY BAND TAKES BEIJING BY STORM Article by Lieutenant Steve Stanke, RAN On Friday the 9th of March, members of the Melbourne and Sydney detachments flew out of Sydney for an exciting opportunity to perform at the 2007 Australia Ball in Beijing, China. For the four days prior to departure, the ten personnel selected for the trip were extremely busy working up some 45 songs for the rock group component and other numbers for the jazz ensemble. We also put together a drum and bugle corps to perform a small floor show, which included a drum ruffle, (thanks to Seaman Chris Thompson for his patience), Advance Australia Fair, I am Australian and Waltzing Matilda. Upon our arrival into Beijing we were greeted by Captain Vaughn Rixon (the Australian Defence Force defence attaché in China) and, after a quick guided tour past a well lit Tiananmen Square, we settled into the motel. A meal at the restaurant next door was made easier by the fluent Chinese language skills of Captain Rixon who ordered our chosen meals, and a culinary disaster was avoided. Saturday morning was free time and all members had an opportunity to do some quick sightseeing around the famous areas of Beijing. Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and other historic places beckoned and, although the weather had supplied a vigorous cold snap (minus 2 degrees with a wind chill factor of about minus 10 degrees) we were pleased with the touring and shopping opportunities. Everyone seemed to find some bartering abilities, with $15 Calvin Klein shirts top of the list. All genuine shirts of course, only the best made in China. The Australia Ball is provided by the Australia Embassy in Beijing for ex-pats and locals and to our pleasant surprise over 700 tickets were sold, guaranteeing a large audience. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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