Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I was privileged this morning to be invited to give the address at the Paihia Dawn Service.   A number of those present have asked for copies of the address.   Don't do Facebook so, for what it's worth, here tiz ....

Fellow veterans, Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls … We stand here as the dawn is breaking to honor the ANZAC legend ... we meet, not to glorify war or to argue the toss as to who won or lost, but simply to remember those who served during times of conflict and crisis and to reflect upon their selfless sacrifice.

For Australians and New Zealanders, ANZAC day is a tradition, paid for in blood and celebrated in our freedom. It’s a day on which we salute the ANZACs and, in paying tribute to them, we take the opportunity to reflect on their contribution of our nation.

102 years ago this day, a group of volunteer Australian and New Zealand soldiers found themselves wading ashore as dawn broke, at a small beach on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. Many of these men were only teenagers, the youngest, Jack Harris, was just 15. He had forged his birth certificate in order to join up.   All were anxious to prove their courage and national identity.

Over the eight months following the landing, those young ANZACs underwent a ‘trial by ordeal’.   In total 36,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers were killed or wounded at Gallipoli.   Included among those causalities was Jack Harris who was killed-in-action on the 15th of August 1915 at Lone Pine. 

Many of you will have driven across the ANZAC Bridge in Sydney.   There is another, much older, ANZAC Bridge just outside Ekatahuna in the Wairarapa built in 1922 to commemorate the sacrifice of men from the Mauriceville County.   In 1914 the population of the County was just 847.   There are six names on the memorial.   Reflect if you will the huge impact the loss of those six would have had on that small farming community.  Was one of those men a potential All Black or a farming leader or a captain of industry?    We shall never know.    What we do know is that they did their duty.   We remember their sacrifice with pride.   We honor them today.

In those terrible battles that followed the landings the original ANZACs earned a reputation for courage, self-reliance and comradeship (or mateship as our Australian cousins like to say).  Whatever, the experience helped forge our national character and identity.   For the first time we started to think of ourselves as Australians and New Zealanders rather than colonial outposts of mother England.   

The standards they set and their ANZAC spirit handed down encouraged and inspired the soldiers, sailors and airmen who followed them.  We saw it in WW2, in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, the Gulf and Afghanistan and the many peacemaking and peacekeeping operations we have participated in including the Middle East, Pakistan, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

This same spirit is represented among the diverse group of veterans gathered here today.

We acknowledge all current members of our defence forces – the brave men and women who represent our country on a daily basis.

Currently New Zealand defence personnel are deployed overseas in a number of conflict areas including Afghanistan, Iraq, Sinai, South Korea and South Sudan. It matters not whether you agree or disagree with the decision of our government to be involved in those conflicts … those young men and women deserve our respect and support.    Never again should we, as a nation, do what we did to our Vietnam veterans when we hung them and their families out to dry … that was a disgrace.   I have to think and hope that New Zealand has matured greatly since then.

ANZAC Day is a day to remember all those who served in our armed forces regardless of when they served.  We especially remember the wounded, the injured and the ill.

The ANZAC spirit, forged at Gallipoli, will never be forgotten. This is why Australians and New Zealanders come together every ANZAC day. We do it to remember the ANZACs and their achievements; and we should remember them, not as old soldiers from a distant war, but as the young servicemen they were in 1915 or later.

New Zealanders are a unique people.   We live in a beautiful country.  We are recognised as having the the ability to make it happen.  We are seen as confident, competitive, innovative and smart and prepared to stand up for what is right.    That is the ANZAC tradition.

We should be proud of our heritage.  We, the living, have been handed the ANZAC torch.   It is our collective responsibility to ensure that torch is never extinguished.

Lest we forget.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

The stand out line:

"...and we should remember them, not as old soldiers from a distant war, but as the young servicemen they were in 1915 or later."

Thank you, Vet.

George said...

Talked with a great uncle in Lodden UK in 1987 who joined the RN in 1914 as a stoker.
We spoke the same language, had the same service and either of us could have swapped places without comment.
And we spun the same old dits :)

Anonymous said...

After reading several comments in the NZ papers I feel compelled to point out that this, our most solemn day, is totally devoid of any understanding at all. Surely the beginnings and reasons of WW1 and the Gallipoli campaign could be taught in schools and not have the general public reliant on the same regurgitated myths that are trotted out every year by the media...... The knowledge base is woeful.

For example, 23% of 1914 enlistments were British born, there is no record of of first generation New Zealanders but it would have been very high and you would have been hard pushed to find what we recognise today as a NZ accent.

Lord Egbut

Jobson Growth said...

Perhaps a better line would have been:

and we should remember them, not as old soldiers from a distant war, but as the canon fodder they were in 1915 or later, young men who did not get to grow old watching their children and grandchildren grow, young men who didn't get to further their education or careers, reap the benefits of their "sacrifice. We should remember them as the unwitting dupes of power and privilege. And as we remember them we should work so that there are no more sacrifices on the altar of war.

Jobson Growth said...

Lord Egbut, you are spot on. As a child I learned of the supposed cause (assassination of a minor noble), as a teen I learned it was about trade (Daniel Mannix) and as an adult I learned it was far more complex than that. But it was never about freedom and democracy.

Several books I recommend to all are:

In the Shadow of Gallipoli, Robert Bollard.
"Fighting Anzacs have metamorphosed from flesh and blood into mythic icons. The war they fought in is distant and the resistance to it within Australia has been forgotten."

What's Wrong With Anzac?, Marilyn Lake.
"In recent years Anzac – an idea as much as an actual army corps – has become the dominant force within Australian history, overshadowing everything else. The commemoration of Anzac Day is bigger than ever, while Remembrance Day, VE Day, VP Day and other military anniversaries grow in significance each year. Pilgrimages to Gallipoli, the Somme and Kokoda are commonplace and popular military history dominates the bestseller lists. Anzac has seemingly become a sacred, untouchable element of the nation. In this brave and controversial book, some of Australia's leading historians dare to criticise Anzac. They show that the Anzac obsession distorts the rest of Australia's history. They investigate official sponsorship of Anzac through commemoration and education and show that this has mobilised it as a conservative force, often for political ends. "

The One Day of the Year, Alan Seymour.

The Veteran said...

Jobson Growth ... your comments re WW1 may or may not have a modicum of truth. You insult the ANZACs of WW2 by labeling them as 'unwitting dupes of power and privilege'.

Post WW2 and I guess you can again argue the toss (except for Malaya and Borneo).

But that's not the real point. On ANZAC Day we honor those who served and, as I said, it matters not whether you choose to agree or disagree with the decision of of government of the day to commit the military to a particular conflict. That is the politicians call. The military do as bidden. That is the essence of our Westminster democracy.

I agree with your last sentence in the abstract but acknowledging that sometimes you have to fight for what is right.

Jobson Growth said...

"You insult the ANZACs of WW2 by labeling them as 'unwitting dupes of power and privilege'."

Read it again. I have only commented on the Great War, taking up your reference of 1915. ANZAC Day is about WW1. There has been no A & NZ Army Corps since. Each preceding and succeeding war had its own genesis, its own Casus Belli, and its merits must be argued in isolation. Although, that said, I believe the seeds of WW2 were laid in The Treaty of Versailles. Thankfully, the Bretton Woods system and the rebuilding of Germany and Japan led to a far better outcome.

" it matters not whether you choose to agree or disagree with the decision of of government of the day to commit the military to a particular conflict. That is the politicians call. The military do as bidden."

I understand you may see it that way, given your military history, but for me it comes to close to "I was just following orders" and that defense was shot down at Nuremberg a long time ago.

As you said, sometimes you have to fight for what is right, and sometimes that should mean the military (or the individual) will act by conscience and choose to what is right rather than what was ordered.

The Veteran said...

Jobson Growth ... wrong. Your reference wasn't just about the Great War. Note the words "and later" ... I'll say it again slowly ... a n d l a t e r.

Don't know your experience of the military. Just following orders is no defence if that order was unlawful and you have the right to question unlawful orders. But you don't have the right to choose your battles per se. In an all volunteer force (and that's most of the western military today) and if you disagree with the decision of your duly elected government to commit troops to a particular conflict then you resign and accept whatever (financial) penalties that might incur. But you do that before you are warned out for deployment and not after.

paul scott said...

Good speech Vet. Excellent. Very moving.

Anonymous said...

When the Australians landed unopposed at ANZAC cove at 0500hrs they set the scene for the dawn service. As the New Zealanders did not land until 1000hrs, also unopposed, after a nice row in the idyllic Aegean should we not have mid morning service?

Lord Egbut. :-)