Captains Honour the Anzacs

Our College Captains represented us beautifully at the Anzac Day Service hosted by the ELwood RSL on the foreshore. Here are excerpts from their speeches.

Georgie Stone: It is an honour to speak to you today, and to commemorate the ANZACs: those who have fought in past wars, and those who are fighting or serving today. This day is a potent reminder of their determination and mateship. A day that unites us under the values of comradery and courage, something I believe is very important today.

It is especially an honour to commemorate my great-grandfather – Arthur Robertson – who fought in World War I alongside his brothers. He was a Sergeant in the 22nd Battalion, and served in France between 1916 and 1917. Three years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to France on a school tour, to see many of the Battlefields in Amiens and the Somme. Not only was I deeply moved, but I began to understand, for the first time, the brutality of the battles, understand the fear experienced by the soldiers, and why many never recovered. I saw where my great-grandfather fought; in the Battle of Pozieres, one of the bloodiest battles in France of the First World War; the Battle of Mouquet Farm; and the Battle of Bullecourt, where my great-grandfather was finally wounded and sent to a hospital in London, where he met my great-grandmother. His brothers were sent to Gallipoli, Bill was part of the last great cavalry charge at Beersheba, Bob at Passchendaele, George wounded the day after Grampy at Bullecourt. They all, incredibly, returned home.

Grampy never considered himself, or his comrades, as heroes. He never sought glory or immortality. He fought for his brothers, and the men around him: the fallen and those still fighting. In the Roll of Honour at the back of his book of the History of the 22nd Battalion, he has marked in pencil against the names of his friends who perished in the War. It was in memory of those people he marched in ANZAC Day parades, until he could march no more.  

I never met him. He died before I was born. Nevertheless, he has had a profound impact on my family. They adored and respected him, because of how much he had endured. The Somme was not just a concept, but living memory. He was light-hearted and gentle and loved to watch the footy on TV. He died in 1988, at the age of 97, having lived a wonderful life.  

What can we learn from ANZAC Day? It is important, I think, to remember the pain and grief that the Great War brought to so many; a grief that those men who returned, carried in their hearts for the rest of their lives.  And a pain that the families of those that never returned, carried for the rest of theirs. It was ‘The War to End All Wars’; so incomprehensible, the scale of loss. But sadly it was not the end of war. Peace, diversity and unity are worth our protection, but not at the cost of our humanity. We as young Australians can take inspiration from the ANZAC spirit to stand up for what is fair and equitable in our society. In this rapidly changing world we need to come together more than ever.

D'Artagnan Holt: Anzac Day allows this defining moment in our history to be immortalised in time, as the Anzac legacy lives on, forever enshrined in our nation’s values. 103 years ago, despite almost always enjoying peace in Australia, the Anzac’s travelled across the far reaches of the globe to fight in the name of freedom. Nevertheless, in the midst of battle, it was the values of determination, sacrifice, courage, mateship - that were born on the sands of Gallipoli and in the trenches of the Western Front.

It is this extraordinary culmination of comradery, this selflessness shaped at the hands of tragedy, that resonates with us today. Together as a community, we too are demonstrating true Australian stoicism, as we champion these values in commemoration of our fellow Anzacs.

I too, like Georgie, has a relative whom fought in the Great War, My Great uncle. He was first wounded on the Somme in late 1917, where he was sent to England to recover. He was presented with the opportunity to come home back to Australia, but he chose to fight on in what was known as Sausage Valley Pozieres, on the Western Front. He was shot in the same place as his original wound- upper left-hand shoulder and died. He was buried in France. His determination to fight on, his refusal to leave his comrades, and his belief in our nation, truly typifies what it means to be an Anzac, what it means to be an Australian.

The monumental impact of the Anzac legacy transcends its origins, as this day ultimately recognises all countrymen and women who defend of our Australian way of life.