Centenary of Anzac
15th September 2016
Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 10:34 :49 ): I am very pleased to be able to add briefly to the debate in this House on the Centenary of Anzac. The debate, introduced by the member for Wagga Wagga in May last year, has elicited many fascinating and poignant stories from members who have contributed to it. This is a very important milestone and one that I am happy to report was commemorated in my electorate of Lake Macquarie, with record crowds turning out to mark the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces on the Gallipoli peninsula. I can also report that while crowds for centenary services were at levels never seen before, they were equalled—and in some cases bettered—at this year's events, meaning that the Anzac spirit and the community's desire to remember our fallen, our injured forebears and those who were placed in harm's way at the behest of our nation has not waned but is getting stronger.
As the years go by, our fascination with the Anzac story appears to grow. The times and values that drove these young men to enlist and lay down their lives for a principle seem somewhat removed from those of modern Australia, although perhaps not when we consider the commitment of today's service men and women who carry that same spirit into conflict zones around the world. We have a lot to learn from the original Anzacs—their selflessness and dedication and, perhaps most of all, their camaraderie. Those youthful, wide-eyed men carried high expectations and a heavy burden on their young shoulders, yet their actions did not disappoint.
Each year my office produces a booklet that I mail to every household in my electorate. Called The Spirit of Anzac, it includes stories about the Anzac heroes who came from our local area and it includes a comprehensive guide to Anzac Day services. It is always very well received and in itself has become quite an Anzac tradition. It is where we remember or learn about the likes of the Greenfield brothers from Killingworth, who were all lost on the battlefields of the Great War. The death of Private Albert Greenfield just days before Christmas in 1916 was shocking news for his parents, Samuel and Isabella, who had already lost two family members on the battlefields. Albert was killed in France on the Western Front on 16 December not long after his brother-in-law Private Thomas Wood was killed on the Turkish peninsula. Albert's older brother, Private Stephen Greenfield, was killed only months earlier while fighting at Pozieres in France.
The loss of two sons and a son-in-law in the space of 15 months left the Greenfield family bereft. In a letter to Defence Base Records, Mrs Greenfield said that she was keen to have her sons' belongings returned as a keepsake of their service to their country. "It is a sad blow to any mother," she wrote, adding that the loss of two sons and her daughter's husband had taken "a very personal toll". It is also where we learn of Frederick Ball from Boolaroo, who marched off to war with his family's blessing in 1915. He arrived in Egypt with the 30th Battalion reinforcements just as the Gallipoli campaign was ending, but troops were soon sent to the Western Front and Frederick battled on throughout 1917. In October of that year he was killed in Ypres in Belgium.
The centenary of the Great War marks a significant milestone in Australian history. It was deemed to be the war to end all wars but sadly, as we know, it was not. Anzac Day traditionally provides an opportunity to remember not only those who fought in the nation-defining battle at Gallipoli but also the service men and women who have contributed to the defence of Australia throughout all overseas conflicts. At home in Lake Macquarie, we have a special connection with World War II through the former RAAF Catalina flying boat base at Rathmines. The base was the largest flying boat base in the Southern Hemisphere at that time. It is our direct link to what was, for better or for worse, one of history's most significant events.
In February this year, a commemorative service was held at the new memorial at Rathmines. Seventy?three years earlier, 11 crew aboard Catalina A24-25 belonging to 11 Squadron were killed when their aircraft crashed in waters south of Cairns. The squadron was based at Rathmines and flew out on an anti?submarine mission in February 1943 but never returned. The wreckage was found in 2013, but the remains of the 11 young men who perished with it were not recovered. They fought and died together and will continue to rest together, entombed in the wreckage. The discovery did, however, provide some closure for the families and descendants of those men. In 1945 a crew of nine men from 20 Squadron failed to return from a mine-laying mission in the Pescadores Islands. News of the lost flight hit those at the Rathmines base hard. None of the crew were ever found but their names are listed on the Labuan Memorial in Saba, Malaysia, and of course on the new memorial at Rathmines.
I wish to add some names to those who served at the Rathmines Catalina flying boat base. Attie Wearne was a former base commander and his family still live in the area. My good friend Penny Furner is his daughter. Attie Wearne was also a squadron leader based at Cairns. While swimming in local waters he was attacked by a shark and lost his right leg below the knee. He used a prosthesis and continued to serve as a commander and fly a Catalina aircraft. I also acknowledge Lyn Hurt, whom I was pleased to have met some years ago and knew briefly before he passed away. As a Catalina commander, Lyn Hurt led many missions. One that he relayed to me was particularly striking. He led a flight into battle but they overshot the Japanese base target. As the lead aircraft, he was able to reposition those following him, but he told his crew that they would be going around again in a lumbering Catalina, leaving them exposed to the guns that were now heavily mobilised. Such people are true heroes, and I look forward to placing on record further stories from this era.
TEMPORARY SPEAKER ( Mr Thomas George ): In accordance with sessional orders, Government business is interrupted for the consideration of General Business Notices of Motions (for Bills). I set down the resumption of the debate as an order of the day for tomorrow.
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