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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 94 – ANZAC DAY ESSAY

- 94 – ANZAC DAY ESSAY BY THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC LEADING SEAMAN MARCUS SALONE PLAYING THE LAST POST AT LONE PINE, GALLIPOLI On ANZAC Day, we traditionally commemorate those, especially the fallen, who served before us in past conflicts. We also reflect on our own recent and ongoing service in operational theatres, which continues to bring great credit upon Navy and the Australian Defence Force. 1 As we approach the 95th Anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, it is appropriate that we review the reasons why we commemorate ANZAC Day and what it means to us as a nation and as individuals. It will be a particularly poignant anniversary this year for 17 of our musicians who have deployed to assist with the remembrance ceremonies at Anzac Cove and Lone Pine. No doubt, the 30 musicians who deployed to the Gallipoli Peninsula in 2004 and 2007 will also recall some strong emotions from their experience. Between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916 men from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and other countries fought a fierce and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to capture the strategically important Gallipoli Peninsula, capture Constantinople and knock Turkey out of the war. As we commemorate ANZAC Day it is also worth reflecting on the little known story of HMAS AE2 and the Royal Australian Navy Bridging Train. Navy was in fact the 'first in and last out' of the Australian forces at Gallipoli: The submarine HMAS AE2 began her passage of the Dardanelles before the ANZAC landings commenced; and the Royal Australian Navy Bridging Train departed after Anzac Cove had been evacuated. 2 1 CN AUSTRALIA message 191016ZAPR10 para 1 2 http://www.navy.gov.au/Navy_and_ANZAC_Day Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 95 – It has often been said that Australia came of age on that morning some 14 years after Federation. 3 That may be true and perhaps that is why we hold the day in such high regard in our national calendar. It certainly is not a day to celebrate a great military victory. In fact, it was a military disaster from any viewpoint; except for the well-planned and successful evacuation, which followed some eight months later. The final count of the dead was 250 000 of which 10 000 were ANZAC troops. However, it is just not Gallipoli we remember on ANZAC Day; nor is it even the First World War. ANZAC Day is a day set aside for us to collectively give thanks to all those men and women who put their lives in harms way and in many cases paid the supreme sacrifice. Those men and women did not start the wars in which they were involved; they were fighting on behalf of all the people of Australia. What they did was to offer their very existence when they were told that their country needed them. More completely, ANZAC Day is a day to commemorate the bravery and self-sacrifice of past and present generations. It is a day to acknowledge the selflessness of all those who have been prepared to lay down their lives for Australia so that we can live in freedom. So on this ANZAC Day we thank and recognise those who served in the first and second world wars, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and more recently, Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. You have heard me say before that the Royal Australian Navy Band has a proud record of service to the nation, and it is worthwhile reiterating some examples of that service. On 5 August 1914, when war was declared, HMAS Australia sailed with orders to seek out the German Pacific Fleet: our musicians were utilised as medical attendants onboard Australia during the Great War. During WWII, our musicians served with distinction in HMA Ships in all theatres of war. They worked as gun crews, shell bearers in magazines, in transmitting stations, as first aid parties and as lookouts through day and night watches. Our musicians were among those unfortunate sailors who lost their lives in HMA Ships Perth, Australia, Penguin, Canberra and Sydney. A particular point of reflection can be noted in Kathryn Spurling’s Cruel Conflict: Few men attended more burials than Ordinary Seaman Elmo Gee. Playing these days was restricted to the haunting melancholy lament ‘The Last Post’. Gee would play that 1500 times—one day he played it 33 times. 4 Ordinary Seaman Gee was Perth’s bugler. As a prisoner of War, he laboured on the infamous Burma-Siam Railway. Our musicians also saw action onboard the carrier HMAS Sydney in Korean waters in 1953, and a total of 172 musicians served onboard HMA Ships Sydney and Melbourne during the Vietnam conflict—the musicians from these two ships also performed separate concert tours of South Vietnam in 1970. Forty five of our current generation of musicians served in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Falconer, Operation Catalyst and Operation Slipper. On ANZAC Day we give thanks to all of those musicians. I am sure that we would all agree that ANZAC Day is not a day for honouring war; for war is not something to be honoured. War is something that is used by a nation as a last resort to safeguard its sovereignty when diplomacy has failed. We do however, on ANZAC Day, honour all of the people of Australia who have undertaken warfare to protect that sovereignty, no matter how distasteful it may have been to them personally and in spite of the risk of losing their lives. To them, on ANZAC Day, we say: 3 Address to the ANZAC Day Service at the National Cathedral, Washington DC, by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, The Hon Wayne Swan MP on 24 April 2009 4 Kathryn Spurling, Cruel Conflict: the triumph and tragedy of HMAS Perth, New Holland Publishers, 2008, p 258 Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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