ANZAC Day - Mudjimba, 25th April 2013

Today Jo and I went to watch her father and brothers march  in the Mudjimba Beach ANZAC Day parade. The event was well attended by locals and visitors, taking time out to honour the fallen and remaining veterans in our communities from the two world wars and other skirmishes that Australia has been involved in during the last one hundred years.
Dave Cook, Jo's dad

Jo with her dad before the march began.

ANZAC Day is one of those Australian traditions that has grown stronger with times passing, rather than fallen away, as the original ANZACS, (our service men and women from WW1 (1914-1918)) have moved on to join their long deceased comrades in arms. Australia's Vietnam Veterans now appear as the mainstays of this event, along with those nineteen and twenty year old vets from our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Jo's brothers Steve and Matt

I missed out on my own war stories through the sheer luck of the National Service Ballot system in 1970. My birthday wasn't drawn out of the hat. Vietnam would most certainly have not have agreed with my addictive personality and my chances of survival would have been minimal. With the small Australian population there is only be a handful of individuals not personally affected by the tragedy that war brings. I have a Great-uncle buried somewhere in the north-west of France from the 1914-18 Western Front battle. My Great-uncle Edgar survived service in Egypt and Europe with the Australia Light Horse at the same time. Uncle 'Bluey' Bashforth served in New Guinea in the second world war. His memory lives on in the Australian War Museum in Canberra through the drawing done by Archibald Prize winning artist, Nora Heysen (daughter of Hans Heysen). And a cousin, Alfred Woolley, was unfortunately one of the 500 Australian servicemen to die in Vietnam.

The ANZAC day march has been an annual part of life for Jodie and I since we were both kids. My dad was a member of the Darwin Defenders who helped to keep the Japanese airforce from gaining an imprint on Australian soil from 1942 until he discharged himself in 1946. My father enlisted in the army in Sydney as a sixteen year old on the 8th May 1942 by putting his age up a year. Within six weeks of joining up he was on a train and then truck for the 10,100 kilometres trip to Darwin via Adelaide.
My father, Bob, ready for another march.
Dad had a million war stories that he'd spun to me from when I was about eight years old. I remember him telling me once that when the fifteen hundred soldiers he was with first arrived in Darwin they only had five hundred .303 rifles and seven hundred rounds of ammunition between them to do battle with. Thankfully the Japanese were not aware of this deficiency. I must admit that I had doubted a few of the tales my father had told me until Jodie and I went with him to Darwin for the 64th anniversary of the first bombing of Darwin in February 2006. But after spending a few days hanging out with dad and his old digger mates around the original military sites that surround Darwin, I realised that I had probably only ever listened  to half of what he told me. There is so much more to the Darwin Defenders history than the average Australian would be aware of or thankful for. Thanks for your contribution Bob.

Jo's Dad was a full-time member of the Australian army for twenty five years which included a deployment to Malaysia and active service in Vietnam. her brother Steve also served in Vietnam.

Anzac Day parades and addresses thankfully never glorify war, or the fear and greed that starts them. Somehow the tragic loss of thousands of young Australian and New Zealand serviceman through the incompetent bungling of a handful of politically motivated, British war lords, has provided a continuing medium for all members of Australian communities to come together on one day each year to honour the dead and forge an agenda for a peaceful world. My son Kris visited Gallipoli a few years back. It was one of those defining experiences of history for him.

Lest we forget!!

Jodie... the servicewoman who played an beautiful Last Post at today's Mudjimba service

The following information about ANZAC Day was taken from the Australian War Museum website

What is ANZAC Day?
ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

What does ANZAC stand for?

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

Why is this day special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.
The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.


  1. Hi Rob,

    Great to read another blog and especially on such a moving topic. One of my favourite books is: "Sandakan- the conspiracy of silence" written by a former History teacher from Australia, named Lynette Ramsay Silver. I had never heard of this event from WW2, and it wasn't until I moved to Borneo and an Australian colleague lent me the book that I learned about it. It is a fantastic read about a tragic episode from our history, well worth it if you ever come across it. So hard to comprehend the sacrifices which were endured, mostly from young Aussies much younger than myself. All the more reason to remember this important legacy and hopefully learn from it. Thanks for the insight. Nat


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