Dawn Service 2012
Dawn Service ANZAC Day Address
Bungendore 25 April 2012
The ANZAC Legend was born in 1915. It was on 25 Apr 1915 that over 20,000 soldiers made up of mainly Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on the shores of Gallipoli, Turkey. The Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey) was allied with Germany and Austria in the Great War.
The ANZAC Legend was born that fateful day; some even say that this was day that Australia became a nation. Either way the ANZAC Spirit was born that day. It was the spirit of reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.
The Australian New Zealand Army Corp forces, also known as ANZAC for short, were met by a well prepared Turkish “Ottoman” force. The Turkish forces had had time to establish themselves on the high ground. What was too endure was a long eight month campaign in which Australian Soldiers, also known as diggers, proved their worth in blood. In the end the cost of the eight of month campaign was the sacrifice of over 11,000 Australian and New Zealand lives. The cost was high for all involved.
The following year, 1916, the first anniversary of the landings was observed in Australia, New Zealand, England and by troops in Egypt. This is what has developed into the ANZAC Day commemorations that we know today. It was in 1916 that the 25 April was officially named ‘Anzac Day’ by the then Acting Prime Minister of Australia, George Pearce. Today, Anzac Day services are held all around the world, as well as nationally in almost every town and city in Australia. Hundreds of thousands of Australians gather each year to honour those who have served, and continue to serve our nation in the true Anzac spirit, in times of war, conflict and peace.
ANZAC Day is not a day that we celebrate war, but instead a day that we all remember the sacrifice of those who presently serve and who have gone before them. It is a day that we should also remember their families and their sacrifice and lost.
One such story is that of regimental number 55, Sapper Walter Freebairn. Sapper Freebairn was born in Darlinghurst, Sydney NSW on 26 Oct 1891. On the outset of World War I Walter Freebairn was working as a tailor. The call went out and he answered the call of the empire. Walter Freebairn enlisted in the Army on the 20 Apr 1914, he was 22. Walter Freebairn was enlisted as a sapper with 1st Field Coy, Australian Engineers.
After some initial training in Australia, Sapper Freebairn embarked by ship for the Middle East from Sydney on 18 Oct 1914 along with many who went on to serve in Gallipoli. The Australian Digger had a reputation of larrikinism. Sapper Freebairn’s experience is no different and his military records include a charge issued on the 12 Dec 1914 for which he received seven days confined to barracks.
On the dawn of 25 Apr 1915 under the cover of darkness the ANZAC forces commenced landing on the shores of Gallipoli where the Turkish forces were waiting. There was fierce fighting as the guns roared and one could hear the constant rattle of the Turkish machine guns. This did not prevent the Australian and New Zealand forces making good progress. However there was a cost.
SPR Freebairn was part of the ANZAC Forces that landed on the beaches of Gallipoli that day. With only one year and five days in the service, it was during the landing that SPR Freebairn was killed in action. SPR Freebairn was never to see his homeland again. SPR Freebairn was laid to rest in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery on the Gallipoli Peninsular along-side many of his fellow ANZAC mates. SPR Freebairn was posthumous awarded the 1914/15 star.
It is the ANZAC Spirit of SPR Freebairn that lives in those that have served since and lives in those that currently serve. There is the larrikin; however there are also the traits of commitment to the cause, resourcefulness, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.
So on this ANZAC Day let’s remember those who have sacrificed for our way of life.