Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 1 2015 Contents HONOURING
26 Defence Issue 1 2015
Anzac Day recognises our enduring commitment
to honour the memory of those who suffered to
secure our freedom.
Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin
FROM THE CDF
N 2015, Australia will commemorate
one of the most significant events in our
The Anzac legend emerged from
the darkness on a beach along the
Gallipoli Peninsula. At dawn on 25 April 1915,
the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps
launched their first major military action of
World War I.
The Australians expected casualties but no
one could have foreseen the terrible toll the
diggers would suffer.
In military terms, the landing was a failure.
More than 8000 Australian soldiers were killed
and thousands more wounded.
I was recently invited to record a message
for a social media project to commemorate the
The 100 Stories of Anzac project will record
the personal reflections of 100 serving ADF
personnel on Anzac Day and what it means to
My earliest memory of Anzac Day is
attending the Dawn Service as a young boy.
I remember standing in the rain in Sydney’s
Martin Place with my father.
At that time it was about being part of a large
event, but over the years I came to understand
the significance of the day and the more I
learnt about the impact World War I had on
Australians, the more important Anzac Day
became to me and my family.
I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of
Anzac Day until I walked the Western Front.
The sheer size and scale of the battle ground
and the sight of thousands of war graves drew
the enormous loss of life into sharp perspective.
The vast majority of Australian families were
represented on the battlefield half a world away
and news of the shocking toll had a significant
impact back home.
Anzac Day commemorations began soon
after with marches and services around the
world to honour those diggers who were killed
Every name on the Australian Honour Roll
represents a person with family and friends who
mourned for them and a story about a life cut
short by war.
Private Frederick Birks is just one of our
fallen. Private Birks was 20 years old when he
landed at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915.
As a stretcher bearer, his actions that day in
carrying the wounded, single handed and under
heavy fire, out of harm’s way earned him a
recommendation for an award.
A second recommendation for devotion to
duty under heavy rifle and shell fire came just
Private Birks was wounded at Gallipoli
but, like so many who survived the Gallipoli
Campaign, he returned to the Western Front
where he was awarded the Military Medal for
his bravery at Poziere in France.
Private Birks was selected for officer training
and Second Lieutenant Birks received his
commission in France in April 1917. He joined
the 6th Australian Imperial Forces Infantry
Battalion as they prepared for the Battle of
Sadly, his first major action as an officer was
also his last.
Second Lieutenant Birks was killed in action
at Glencorse Wood on 21 September 1917,
trying to free his mates who were buried by
a shell. The 23-year-old was posthumously
Cross for most
bravery in attack.
embodied all that the word
Anzac has come to represent. Yet
100 years after the Gallipoli Campaign, it is still
difficult to explain to international friends and
colleagues what Anzac means to Australians.
It represents that Aussie spirit we talk about
but cannot clearly define; values that evoke
our sense of nationalism and the uniquely
Australian characteristics others admire.
It is evident in the way we conduct ourselves
especially in times of trouble. No task too big,
no job too hard. We enjoy a laugh, but we get
the job done – and we do it well.
In recent years, as the last World War I
veterans left us, a new generation of Australians
has started to embrace Anzac Day with renewed
reverence and vigour.
Some are serving or former members of the
Australian Defence Force, but many are not.
They are quite simply proud Australians who
recognise the solemn significance of the day
and the selfless sacrifice of our service men and
women throughout history.
We should never forget that sacrifice, nor
should we forget that the Anzac legend was
built on the stories of individuals – the men and
women like Second Lieutenant Fredrick Birks.
That is the Anzac legacy; our enduring
commitment to honour the memory of those
men and women who suffered to secure our
Lest We Forget.
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