Last Update 25th June 2003
The early marches for the Anzac Celebrations appear to have had a number of destinations in their time. The early marches upto the early 1920's are thought to have stopped at the market reserve, just east of the Court House, corner of McDowall and Queen Sts. The only other viable alternatives to this theory is the Drill Hall in Charles St or the Federation (and also Boer War) Monument in Queen's Park. Evidence is scant, and only vague references lead us to believe it was the Market Reserve. Following the construction of the Honor Roll, and the donation of it to the Council, marches and Armistice Day celebrations culminated where the Roll was hung, in the Council Chambers in McDowall St. This process was to continue upto 1938, when the Cenotaph was officially dedicated. It then became the destination and centre of all military remembrance ceremonies.
The original concept of constructing some memorial to the fallen soldiers of WW1 goes back to at least the 1st Anniversary Celebrations for Gallipoli. The committee for the days events wrote to council in March 1916, asking Council to consider constructing a marker and Honor Roll for the men who fell at Gallipoli. One councillor moved that it should be constructed in Wyndham St, just off the kerb line. The most likely location intended being just outside the post office. The Anzac Committee again wrote in 1917 asking for the monument to be constructed, the location proposed to be the small triangle of land known as the market reserve, just east of the Court House, on the corner of Queen and McDowall St. The idea of a monument was again entertained at the 50th Anniversary Celebrations for Roma in late 1917. The Council's intention at the time was to devise a living memorial of trees - the subsequent Heroes Avenue - but a parallel project to build a stone cairn was also re entertained shortly afterward. Stone cairns are more traditional, and most likely the construction of a stone monument with a single listing of all the men was almost expected from the populace, even though the avenue was in place doing the same function.
The next mention of a memorial being proposed was in November 1920, when Chairman of the local Repatriation Committee, Mr WG Mayne, wrote to council drawing their attention to the fact that neither a monument nor Roll of Honor had been constructed yet. Council were again reminded in April 1921, when the Brisbane Committee who were seeking funds to build the memorial in Anzac Square, Brisbane, wrote asking for support. Council admitted their tardiness in building a local one, and wished to keep the funds for such a project locally than to sponsor a Brisbane monument when there still wasn't one in Roma.
Nothing came of the prompts, and no doubt the omission was a talking point among ex soldiers at the various meetings of their different organisations. Considering the spitefulness of some ex soldiers, particularly the hierarchy of the RSSILA (especially in the 1930's), there must have been some very colourful language in relation to the council's slowness on this project.
However, council had quite a number of problems through this period in relation to both continual staff turn over and almost going broke several times which was taking up a lot of their time. Several mayors faced almost open revolt from councillors and the public, and the great depression and increasing union militancy did nothing to leave spare money for projects. Many schemes throughout this time were fully government funded.
The first genuine attempt to finally build the monument was put forward by the Roma and District Returned Soldiers Association (R&DRSA) in 1933. It appears it was their project, with funding and direction via the Repatriation Committee that finally got the project rolling. The Repatriation Committee appears to have some over arching power over the R&DRSA on this project which is not yet clear, possibly due to their financial involvement and the fact the Repatriation Committee was a federal government body. The Repatriation Committee also over saw the Soldier's Race Committee, which was a major fund raising organisation for soldier related projects in town. In the late 1930's this organisation was very fractured owing to the developing split between the RSSILA and the R&DRSA, the RSSILA being almost half the committee.
There was no involvement of any other organisation in the cenotaph process, especially the RSSILA (modern RSL). These men were quite adamant that they would in no way share any involvement with any other oganisation on any subject, and rebuffed the R&DRSA, only feigning to consider the idea so that it could be roundly defeated 39 votes to 1 so that no further discussion on the topic would be necessary. At the meeting to discuss it, Canon Eva (the President RSSILA) said that even the motion to consider dealing with the R&DRSA was out of order (deeply offending Mr GG Ferrier, the mover, in the process), and read the rules of the RSSILA which said they could not co operate in any way with any soldier's organisation outside the League except the Limbless Soldier's and Father's Associations. They could be no clearer. The militancy of the RSSILA of this period is well known anecdotally from many family histories, including my own. They were good enough, however, to encourage all returned soldiers to attend the event, a hollow gesture as most soldiers were almost guaranteed to show up for such an event. Their stance on this may well have been directly related to Canon Eva's personality and the way the RSSILA formed after a major internal split of the R&DRSA in 1937.
The RSSILA then embarked on their own project to build their own hall, shifting the redundant infants hall from the State School to the current RSL location. Their project was not completed until after the Cenotaph was built, and served to create another stir among soldiers - they were adamant there was to be no bar, (also a council condition) no doubt a concession to the religious influences of the committee. They also only got it funded by manipulating the Repatriation Committee, but that's another story.
The preparations for the monument took a number of years to organise, the final years of the project being conducted by the R&DRSA president AJ Campbell. The final stages relating to the unveiling of the monument were passed over to the Repatriation Committee for organising by Mr Mayne, not doubt to their stature as a federal department who were partly funding the construction. Both Campbell and Canon Eva were also members of this committee.
The first work on the monument took place in October 1937, the base being poured by Mr W Anderson (the Undertaker) and the granite blocks being erected under the supervision of Mr AL Petrie (Brisbane Monumental Mason). The inscribed plates on the monument were covered over, to be kept hidden from the public until the Memorial was opened on the following Anzac Day, 1938.
Unfortunately, the preview of the monument by the R&DRSA revealed that one name was missing (Gavin). The monument inscription also says it is erected to the memory of the 93 men from the district, when in fact there were 94 listed in the Avenue. This was pointed out to Mayne, but never corrected. Modern investigation of the monument also reveals several misspelled names, such as Kupper (Kupfer), and names out of alphabetical order.
Considering Mr WG Mayne was putting together a complete plan of the Avenue, it is quite curious he (or Petrie if it was a transcription fault, though this is unlikely) made the mistakes on the monument. It certainly does not support any theory Mayne was the absolute authority on the men of the Avenue. Consider also that there was no proposal to memorialise any other soldiers from further research. The full list of 94 men was already known by mid 1920, when the last trees in the avenue were proposed to be planted, and prior to Mr Mayne asking Council to get a wriggle on and finish the Honor Roll. They were of course to turn to him for aid in the Roll of Honour shortly after, so in theory he did research all soldier's from Roma & District. However, as the Roll of Honour was probably handed over by Alderman Crawford in the early 1920's (probably 1922 or 1923), all research had most likely been concluded by then. One must assume Mayne conducted no research post the 1920 planting of trees, or he made no issue of his research with additional names. That he wouldn't mention additional soldiers to be included on the cenotaph is highly unlikely, and we are left with the conclusion he conducted no great research at all past the planting of trees in 1920.
We know that the AIF records were extremely poor, and for a great period of time very difficult to sort. It has not been until the digital age that records have been easy to search and therefore easy to locate soldiers. Perhaps Mayne did the best with what he had in the early 1920's, which was not much, and conducted no further research. It is very perplexing he made no use of the Western Star archives, as they continually mention Roma soldiers who were killed in the war, many of whom are not on the list, or even the nominal Roll of Honor for the district.
To return to the cenotaph, organisation for the unveiling proceeded under Mr Mayne's direction, with suggestions from the R&DRSA. The Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson, had declined to open it due to other commitments, and WM Hughes had also declined due to commitments in Sydney for Anzac Day. Billy Hughes had associations with Roma, working at Basset's Winery and other places in the district before moving to the big smoke and a political career. Eventually Lt Col Sir Donald Cameron, KCMG, DSO, VD, accepted the invitation to unveil the memorial.
In the meantime, the R&DRSA completed the works around the cenotaph,
being the paths, edging and garden works. All up the project to build the cenotaph
had cost £400. The council chipped in by gravelling the footpath in front
of it, which was probably also necessary to get to the Federation Monument/fountain.
In preparation for the unveiling, a program for the day was published in the paper.
The days events abandoned the usual practice of laying wreaths at the Roll
of Honor in the council chambers in McDowall St. Wreaths were laid instead in
the cemetery at 9AM on the headstones of dead soldiers, the headstones being
recently installed by the R&DRSA in another project.
Religious services were then conducted during the morning, a speech being given by Sir Donald Cameron on the example of the soldier and the donkey at Gallipoli. This speech is reproduced further below.
The unveiling at 3:30PM was preceded by a march of 120 soldiers plus band
which progressed directly to the new cenotaph where WG Mayne welcomed them.
Rousing speeches for the day were delivered by Mayne and the visiting dignitary - Sir Donald Cameron. Following the speeches the memorial was unveiled and the ceremony was over. Both these speeches are to be found in the appendix.
Mayne's speech is notable for mentioning the support of the RSSILA, who never positively discussed the project in any of their meetings for which there are records, and who vehemently refused to deal with the main instigator, the R&DRSA. However, some of the RSSILA members also made up Mayne's committee (including Canon Eva who was also present at the unveiling - added religious pressure?), so perhaps he was being over generous. Mayne had many very strange recollections that day totally unrelated to actual history. Politically he must have walked a very fine tight rope.
The days events were closed by a dinner in the Hibernian Hall.
There was much debate nationally at the time of the 1937/38 Anzac Days being conducted with religious services within the Anzac Ceremonies, particularly with the Melbourne service. Eventually the soldiers won out and the churches had to content themselves with holding their own services in their churches later in the morning with their congregation, rather than having the whole Anzac Day ceremony as their audience. Many soldiers felt it unnecessary to mix religious and war time services, and were particularly wary of getting involved in a Catholic/Presbyterian argument on who should officiate. They were quite adamant though that the churches should conduct their own service in their church, and not abandon any idea of remembering soldiers on Anzac Day.
Anzac Day - 1938
Memorable Event in Roma
Unveiling of Soldiers' Memorial
Ceremony Performed by Sir Donald Cameron
Large Assemblage of Returned Soldiers
The various functions connected with the twenty third anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, which took place at Roma on Monday, attracted more than usual interest than in previous years. They commenced at 9:30AM, with the placing of wreaths on the graves of soldiers in the Roma cemetery. The church services were all well attended, and in the afternoon the memorial to soldiers who had lost their lives in the war was unveiled. This ceremony was performed by Lieutenant Colonel Sir David Cameron, KCMG, DSO, VD, and was remarkable for the attendance of about 120 returned soldiers who assembled from both town and country, wearing their war medals and ribbons, and who marched through the town to the Queen's Park. The usual Anzac Day public meeting was held in the Hibernian Hall in the evening, and was largely attended.
Unveiling of Memorial
Monday afternoon was marked by the unveiling of the memorial which has
been erected at the entrance of the Queen's Park in the memory of those men
from Roma and district who lost their lives during the war. The ceremony was
preceded by a march of about 120 returned soldiers, headed by a band, and led
by Sir Donald Cameron. The streets were lined with people, and there was a large
assemblage at the memorial. Sir Donald Cameron was met at the entrance by the
Chairman of the Local Repatriation Committee (Mr WG Mayne), and there were also
present at the memorial Archbishop Wand, Canon Eva, representatives of the returned
soldiers associations (Messrs AJ Campbell and WR Wilson),the Repatriation Committee,
Town and Shire Councils (Ald EW Brock [mayor and ex repatriation committee president]
and Cr SR Jones), and other invited guests.
Mr WG Mayne, Chairman of the Local Repatriation Committee, said: - It is very gratifying to see such a large attendance to do honour to those men enlisted from this District who were killed in the Great War, and in whose memory this Monument has been erected. Many apologies have been received from returned soldiers who are unable to attend, and one from the Right Honourable WM Hughes [Billy Hughes], who says he would like to have been present, but it was impossible to be absent from Sydney on Anzac Day. Before inviting Sir Donald Cameron to unveil the Memorial there are a few remarks it is fitting should be made. The number of men who enlisted from this district, of which a record has been made by the local Repatriation Committee, was 814. The population of the district (including women and children) at the time war broke out, it is estimated, did not exceed 7500,so that it will be seen that one ninth of the total population voluntarily responded to the call to arms in support of liberty and freedom - a response of which the district may well be proud, and one which was probably not excelled in any other part of Australia, or for that matter, in any part of the British Empire. The names of all those who enlisted has been preserved on the Honor Board, which the Repatriation Committee, soon after the termination of the war, caused to be placed in the town hall. [not until after mid 1921 at least! And then it was donated by an Alderman and not the Repatriation Committee. It may have been because they were consulted on the list the association came about. More research on this claim is needed] Of the total number of enlistments no less than 94 paid the supreme sacrifice, and these are the men to whom we have assembled to do honor to day. [Though the monument only lists 93]
Today is the 23rd anniversary of Anzac Day, and nearly 20 years has elapsed
since the termination of the war. To some it may appear that we have been rather
dilatory in erecting the memorial, but the Repatriation Committee, rightly or
wrongly, considered that their first duty was to apply the funds at their disposal
to the assistance and repatriation of returned soldiers, intending all along
that before closing their operations some monument should be erected to the
honor of those who died in active service. [It is an interesting comment because
the Repatriation Committee wrote to council on 20th November 1920 asking for
them to build the monument, which they said they would do, and Council also
refused to contribute to the Anzac Memorial in Brisbane - 9th April 1921 - claiming
that they needed the money to build their own monument] The call on the committee's
services having now almost ceased, they decided the time had arrived to turn
their attention to the erection of this Memorial, in which every assistance
had been given by the Roma Returned Soldiers and Sailors Association and the
RSSILA. The total cost of the monument with the surroundings has not exceeded
£400, and of this amount £200 was forthcoming from a fund expressly
raised for the purpose of a Memorial, and the balance out of the small sum which
the committee had in hand, and in carrying out the work the committee sought
as far as possible to employ returned soldiers. The Roma Town Council readily
granted the use of the site for the Memorial, and by resolution vested it in
the names of The Mayor of Roma, Chairman of the Bungil Shire, and a representative
of the Local Repatriation Committee as trustees. The Council, and in particular
the Mayor [an ex Repatriation Committee member] had given every assistance in
their power. [The monument was not split out as a separate block until 1984.
And no sub lease or trusteeship was actually placed on th eland around the cenotaph
prior] The monument consists of a grey rustic granite block, resting on a granite
base, and placed on a solid reinforced foundation. It stands 10 feet high, and
weigh approximately four tons. On the front of the monument is an appropriate
inscription, and on the back the names of the 94 men who made the supreme sacrifice.
[It is interesting that since the list of 94 was finalised by the 30th June
1920, there was no research done to further develop the list. Considering the
current legendary status of the research of Mr Mayne, the point is most perplexing.
He says 94 in his speech, but only listed 93 on the monument, but drew 94 on
the bottle tree plan]
As you can see, the monument is flanked on either side by a lawn, enclosed by a low parapet, and it is hoped that this lawn will always be kept green and in order. The Memorial is approached by an avenue of bottle trees, 94 in number, which starts at the Railway station gate, and leads via Station, Wyndham, and Bungil Streets direct to the Memorial itself. Each of these trees is dedicated to the memory of one of the 94 men, and his name is attached thereto. It was through this avenue of trees dedicated to their dead comrades in arms that the march of the Diggers was just made. Before concluding, I am going to make a simple request, and that is that you will, each one of you, as far as it lies in your power, see to it that this Memorial, simple and unpretentious although it be, is never neglected or uncared for, and that it will always be regarded as a spot hallowed to the memory of brave men who once lived amongst you, and many of whom know no grave to mark their last resting place.
The Unveiling Ceremony
Sir Donald Cameron said:- "Once again, Time, in the rotation of years, brings us to Anzac Day. Twenty three years have passed since that grey dawn when the transports and battleships moved silently towards the forbidding Gallipoli Peninsular. It is over two decades since our soldiers, gripping their rifles, awaited the order which would subject them to the supreme test of battle - since they stormed the heights which reined death upon them --since they emerged from the grim ordeal, proved and tired - with an imperishable record. As the convoy steamed through the darkness, in the hour before the men fell in, a young officer of 20, destined to fall next day, wrote to his family - "Australia, tomorrow, founds a Nation - God grant it may be a great one!" He spoke for 36,000 of his countrymen, who, from the decks of the battleships and transports, contemplated the menacing outline of the Gallipoli coastline - and wondered, and resolved. His prayer was answered. Perhaps, even today, we fail fully to realise how great a reputation they won for their land. Their reputation was not made by the landing, alone. But the foundations were laid there, and the standard fixed, which the Australians during the ensuing years of the war strove to maintain. The men in the sinking "South Land" and "Ballarat" - the light Horsemen at Romani, Gaza, Beersheeba - the Infantrymen and Gunners at Fromelles-or Pozieres, at Bullecourt, Passchendale, on Mt St Quentin - all were inspired by the spirit of Anzac. Should Australia ever again be involved in war, the traditions of 1914-1918 will be a powerful force in strengthening the National Will.
In paying tribute to our men, it is well to remember that Gallipoli was an Imperial fellowship. The Australians and New Zealanders, who leaped from the boats at Anzac, were brothers in arms of the English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish troops who gallantly charged ashore from the "River Clyde". Swept by the fierce hail of Turkish shrapnel, the Anzacs were ??[word unclear maybe covered] by the gunfire of the Indian ??[word unclear - maybe cruiser]. Later in the campaign, men from New Foundland arrived, and Australian sick and wounded were nursed in Canadian hospitals. There, as in France, we saw an Empire united, to resist a threat to its security and ideals.
We are assembled today, to pay our tribute to the men of Roma and District
who died in the service of the Commonwealth during the war. The perpetuation
of the memory of the dead is a responsibility recognised throughout the civilised
world. Families find consolation in erecting stones over the graves of their
dead. During the war, the men who survived in action devotedly marked the resting
places of their fallen mates. Often these memorials were rude wooden crosses,
bearing an inscription roughly carved with a clasp knife. Sometimes the memorial
was only a piece of broken board, crowned with a battered steel helmet. Since
the war, these temporary memorials have been replaced by simple, enduring headstones,
erected by an Organisation which is representative of the empire. Where the
fallen have no known graves, their names have been inscribed on stately memorials
erected on the battlefields where they fell. Here, also, in their homeland,
have been erected memorials to our fellow countrymen.
Sentiment and tradition are the soul of a nation. Without national sentiment, there can be no national life. . [yes a space and a dot! Probably intended to be a or in other words an unfinished sentence] Symbolism of one kind or another had been the form in which sentiment has always expressed itself. It stands for something of permanent value - a reminder of what it would be fatal and ungracious to forget.. In observing Anzac Day, the people of Australia are not only paying a tribute to the men who "went West", and to the women who suffered so much, they are also storing up the memories of their achievements and ideals, and thereby creating what must become a powerful inspirational force in the life of the country. Anzac Day must be to us and our descendants a perpetual appeal - not to glorify war, but to seek to achieve the highest ideal of citizenship as exemplified by those whom it will commemorate. During the war, men from lowly walks of life rose to high and responsible offices, while the leaders in our civil life were content to be in the ranks. The one wish of all was to serve Australia. If we could only bring to the development of this country the same singleness of purpose, the same loyalty, the same unselfish devotion which inspired the whole community during the dark days of the war, there is no limit to what we could achieve. The men of the AIF had faith in this country. They believed that Australia could become one of the great Nations of the world. They died to preserve us our freedom, to rid the world of militarism and war, that we, in an era of peace, might realise their dreams. Across the world their freedom had been challenged, and in a few swift months an army was built to meet that challenge and ensure, in the words of his late Majesty King George V. "That freedom might be saved in the uttermost ends of the earth." Falling, they bequeathed to us the duty of making Australia the great country which they were sure she is destined to become. As we succeed, or fail in this duty, and as we maintain our principles, so their sacrifice will be fruitful, or in vain!
In addition to the memorials erected in our own country, many have been erected abroad. There are five Australian Divisional memorials erected in France and Belgium. There is a memorial at Port Said in memory of 1979 soldiers, Australian and New Zealand, who laid down their lives in Egypt, Palestine and Syria between 1916 and 1918. Th purpose of the Lone Pine memorial is expressed in the inscription carved in the centre of the Screen Wall before the Memorial:- "To the Glory of God, and in lasting memory of 3268 Australian soldiers who fought on Gallipoli in 1915, and have no known graves, and 456 New Zealander soldiers whose names are not recorded in other areas of the Peninsular, but who fell in the Anzac area, and have no known graves; and also of 960 Australians and 252 New Zealanders who, fighting, on Gallipoli in 1915, incurred mortal wounds or sickness, and found burial at sea." The Menin Gate Memorial, erected to the armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914 to 1918 and to those of the dead who have no known graves. The names of 56,000 officers and men who ell in the Ypres salient, but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honored burial given to those comrades in death, an ?? [ 2 words unclear] land stone panels. Of the names, 6260 are those of members of the AIF. The Villers Bretonneux Memorial is the Australian National memorial to Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium, to their dead, and especially to those whose graves are not known. There were also the Jerusalem Memorial, the Naval Memorials at Cheltham, Plymouth and Portsmouth, the Tower Hill Memorial - erected to the memory of the officers and men of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet, who lost their lives through enemy action in the great war and have no grave but the sea. There was also the Unknown Soldier's Grave in Westminster Abbey - the greatest memorial of all. Six bodies of unknown soldiers which had been exhumed at various points along the British battle front, were brought in coffins to a place near the Belgian frontier; and there, an officer who had no knowledge of where the bodies had been collected, pointed to one which became the body of the Unknown Warrior. The stone of the grave is a large black marble slab, into which the letters are cut deeply and inlaid with brass made from cartridge cases picked up on the battlefields. The cover of the Altar of Sacrifice in the Warrior's Chapel in Westminster Abbey was the pall of him, the Unknown Warrior, who represents the supreme sacrifice of over one million soldiers of the Empire. Underneath that Union Jack is a glass case in which is the Medal of Valour, the highest Order the United States can give, which they bestowed upon this Unknown Warrior, as a recognition of the bravery of the soldiers of the British Empire. He belongs to all who mourn for those who gave their lives that we might live; he is every mother's son who died in the war. Here, in the inmost heart of the Empire, resting in sacred soil, mingling his dust with the greatest of England's people - her Kings, Priests, Prophets - the body rests, which the King delighted to honour, and to whose memory tribute is paid by the greatest of the earth and from all quarters over which the same Union Jack flies. Monuments have been erected to perpetuate he names of individuals who have performed wonderful deeds of valour; but this is the first time in the history of England - nay, indeed, of the world - when the interring of a single grave of the body of the Unknown Warrior has been the expression of a Nation's devotion to the memory of those of her sons who died that she may live. His late Majesty, King George V., when unveiling one of the War memorials in France in 1922, said: "We remember, and must charge our children to remember, that as our dead were equal in sacrifice, so they are equal in honour - for the greatest and least of them have proved that sacrifice and honour are no vain things, but truths by which the world lives."
At the conclusion of Sir Donald Cameron's address wreaths were placed at the foot of the memorial on behalf of representative public institutions and relatives of soldiers who lost their lives in war.
The sounding of the "Last Post" was followed by a minutes silence, and the Reveille. The playing of the National Anthem brought the ceremony to a close.
THE STORY OF ANZAC
Example of the Man with the Donkey
Address by Sir Donald Cameron
(The following address was given by Lieut.-Colonel Sir Donald Cameron, KCMG, DSO &c, at a combined service at the Presbyterian Church on Anzac Day)
Sleep on , brave heart, thy broken sword beside thee,
The last red breach is stormed, the last foe slain,
There is no strife nor sacrifice denied thee,
No trumpet call to fierce assault again.
Now, with our bright blades sheathed,
And colours laurel wreathed,
We come, thy comrades in the trampling fight,
And bear thee with a long proud song, to the deep house of night.
(Requiem for a Dead Warrior by Edgar McInnes)
On the 25th April, twenty three years ago, in the early dawn, the first Australian soldiers landed upon the historic, and forever hallowed, shore, washed by the Aegean sea - ANZAC. An army of volunteers effected the seemingly impossible - displayed such courage and determination, that the whole world wondered. Each Anzac Day we have gathered together in solemn remembrance of those who, during the years of war, "high sacrifice and labour without ceasing even to the death" for the cause for which they thought worth while. As time passes, so must those who experienced the great world conflict also pass; and, with us, will go the actual knowledge of the tragedy and suffering connected with those years. But there will remain for all time the immortal story of Anzac and the records of subsequent deeds of heroism and self-sacrifice, which can only be enhanced by the passing of time. It has always appealed to me as right and fitting that the young people of today - the potential rulers of this great land in the not distant future - should be told of those whose memory we honour. To those young people, Anzac, and the great war generally, are not even childhood memories - only a tremendous calamity lived through, and remembered, by their elders.
When the sun set upon Gallipoli on the evening of the 24th April 1915, it must have been, to all outward appearances, a very beautiful and peaceful spot. Even latter, when surrounded by all horrors and panoply of war, there are many who will recall the beauty of the evenings when one looked out from the cliffs of Anzac, and watched the sun setting in a blaze of glory beyond the islands of the Aegean Sea. When the sun set on the 25th of April 1915 -24 hours later - those cliffs and valleys had been the scene of a great conflict, of deeds of self sacrifice and heroism; but there lay, dead and wounded, among the wild roses, the honeysuckle, and scented holly, hundreds of the flower of Australian manhood. On that day, Australia took an honoured place among the Nations of the world. The example set by the original Anzacs remained throughout the tragic years of war, as an inspiration to all who followed and fought on the muddy fields of France and Flanders, through the Desert of Sinai, Palestine, the pestilential Valley of the Jordan, high on the mountains of Moab and Gilead, on the Galilee and Damascus. Each Anzac Day our thoughts turn with pardonable pride to the part played by our own troops upon Gallipoli; but we can never forget the equally heroic gallantry of our kinsmen from New Zealand, and the grand old Regiments of the 29th Division, which landed at Cape Helles. Who can hear or read the story of the landing from the transport "River Clyde" at Cape Helles without a thrill of pride.
April 25th stands out as the greatest anniversary in the history of the AIF. In 1917, on Anzac Day, "HMAT Ballarat", with 1600 Australian troops on board, was torpedoed, and this provided an opportunity for the Australian soldiers to demonstrate their coolness and discipline in circumstances somewhat resembling the loss of the "Birkenhead". The troops on the "Ballarat" were inspired by a desire to live up to the standard set, two years earlier to the day, at Anzac. That all the troop sand the ship's company were removed without casualties is a most striking tribute to the splendid discipline and coolness of the men. Then, on the morning of the 25th April 1918, the 13th and 15th Australian Infantry Brigades successfully completed the daring counter attack at Villers Brettoneaux, one of the most critical and difficult actions fought by the AIF. A British officer of high rank at General Headquarters wrote: "Even if the Australians had accomplished nothing but the recapture of Villers Bretonneaux, they would have won the right to be considered among the greatest fighting races of the world."
On the morning of the 25th April 1918, there was added to the record of the AIF another achievement worthy to rank with the first heroic undertaking which we fittingly commemorate on Anzac Day each year. Each Anzac Day we move, as it were, through a croud [crowd] of rushing memories - proud, sad memories - which cannot be taken away from us. We recall the great spirit of comradeship of the AIF, which brought co-operation and cohesion - meaning so much to us during the years of war. Let us keep alive through civilian life, through the years of peace, the old determination to value a man for what he really is - to be tolerant in all things, to try and appreciate another's point of view, be prepared to help along the fellow next to you. Let us stand again as brothers-in-arms in the great campaign of Life. Thus we can help Australia and the Commonwealth of Nations - the British Empire - to be the greatest power for good and for peace in the world - representing a spirit which is the direct antithesis of those disintegrating forces which are gaining such alarming strength today. Let us do our best to make this country worthy of our fallen comrades - the sixty thousand who lie in those far away "Gardens of Sleep" in many alien lands. The symbol of the Christian Churches today is the Cross - the Cross which typifies suffering. True greatness can only come out of pain and endurance. That is why, today, we suitably and reverently keep Anzac Day. We do not gather to applaud victories, to glorify the clash of arms, the triumph of our steel over that of the enemy. There was no victory, except that our men rose high above the fear of death in a new nobility of suffering. There was no triumph except in the knowledge that they could endure so much.
Many men are remembered for some deed of heroism in the face of the enemy at Anzac. But he whose name stood highest - who is greatest in the love and esteem of his fellow men - was an ordinary soldier, a stretcher bearer names Simpson. It was Simpson, who, with Christ like simplicity, took up the work nearest his hand, with the best means at hand. All round the heights the battle had reached a screaming intensity, beyond the power of the imagination of any who were not in its toils. By tens, by hundreds, our men were smashed by shells and bullets, bleeding and untended, where they fell. The stretcher bearers slaved away on the steep hills, the scrub blinded slopes, running the continuous gauntlet of aimed, and un-aimed fire. But, where they took away their single wounded man, others were falling in tens. The time was desperate, conditions were utterly fearful. The ring of fire was tightening on the battered vanguard. A small donkey was nibbling the grass, quite oblivious of the storm that raged overhead and around. Just such a donkey had carried Christ into Jerusalem. This one, too, had a great work to do. Simpson secured the donkey and led it high up the slopes to where the living fought on, amid, and outnumbered, by their dead and wounded comrades. He returned, supporting a wounded rider, and helping another on who could barely struggle along with his aid.
And so, through the days and nights, he went to and for on his errand of mercy. Each journey was an epic, each a feat of endurance. So steep were the slopes, and so hard the work, that many stretcher bearers disabled themselves for life by their exertions. Those days were so clear that Simpson was a plain mark for hidden snipers. The nights were so dark that men went in fear that an approaching forms might b those of Turks, who had broken through. Every journey was a life saved. But, all the time Simpson knew that very soon he must inevitably die, should he continue his conspicuous work. But he chose the simple and straight path of duty - of mercy. And so death came to him - as he knew it would come. He fell beside his donkey, fell from the man he had been supporting - died in his tracks, died in the harness of his work. There, on Anzac, while our men were making their lines secure against the enemy, the word of Simpson's death passed swiftly from man to man. Men who had seen their mates die beside them felt deeper grief for this great man, gone west.
There were other battles, and greater battles than were fought on Anzac. There were those times when our men were smashed and repulsed - times when they struck through the massed enemy to complete victory. But Anzac Day - the anniversary of the time when the men of our vanguard came out of the seas, were launched against those cliffs and tangled valleys - is the focus of our national pride and reverence. It was only through endurance, through fear out-faced, through pain nobly borne, that Australia had attained Nationhood. Anzac Day represents to us all that is noble in man - Simpson, who lay down his life for his friends -wounded men who fought on because those beside them could fight no more - men, too, last and left in desperate positions, who could not retire for fear that by doing so they would betray their dead mates. In all these things we have cause for pride - a humble pride - remembering those who shall not return.
Our official historian wrote this verse on Anzac, with the wreckage of
battle on every hand -
Not unto us, O lord, to tell
Thy purpose in the blast,
When these, that towered beyond us fell,
And we were overpast.
We cannot guess how goodness springs
From the black tempest's breath,
Nor scan the birth of gentle things,
In these red bursts of death.
We only know - from good to great
Nothing save good can flow;
That where the cedar crashed so straight
No crooked tree shall grow;
That from their ruin a taller pride -
Not for these eyes to see -
May clothe one day, the valley side,
Non nobis, Domine.