An Anzac Day Address to Caulfield Grammar School

An Anzac Day Address to Caulfield Grammar School.

On Wednesday the 30th. of April 2003


Lientenant Commander Mackenzie J. Gregory. RAN R'td.

"Why Should We Remember Anzac Day?"


Young Ladies and Young Men of Caulfield Grammar School, your Head of Campus, and Staff Members, thank you for your welcome, and invitation to share with you this Anzac Day Service, I'm pleased to join you today.

But, Why Should We Remember Anzac Day?

On Friday last, the 25th. of April it was 88 years ago that members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps stormed ashore at Gallipoli in turkey.

That legendary word, "ANZAC," was coined, and , entered for all time into the language of both Australia and New Zealand.

The fact, that as a nation, we mark this day as a national holiday, remember it with marches of ex service people, and Remembrance Services is, to recall with affection and with thanks those who died to ensure we enjoy our continued freedom today.

Anyone who has fought in any war, in any way, will tell you there is no glory in war, but, I can assure you all, there is boredom, there is pain, there is a great deal of waiting, there is also sadness.

If honest, they will add the dimension of fear, sometimes it gnawed at your guts - there is humour. The Australian Serviceman or Woman has always maintained that quality in their make up. It helped one survive both tough and frightening times.

When at last it was all over - there was joy, and thankfulness, and pride in a job well done. We each of us formed part of a team, in whatever section of the Armed Forces we served in - you relied on your mates, and, in turn they relied on you. All who have served their country, should, I suggest, recall that service with pride.

In our youth, when Germany and later Italy and Japan threatened our way of life - we went off to sea, or joined the Army of the Airforce. Let me remind each of you here today of those dark days, just after the miracle of Dunkirk: - When the Navy, combining with the Airforce snatched some 300,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force and some French servicemen from the beaches at Dunkirk.

At that time, Britain, with on the support of Canada, New Zealand and Australia stood alone against the might of Germany - the light for freedom across Europe had been extinguished.

Those members of the old British Empire for almost two more years stood alone, fighting for the cause of freedom.

Hitler then made the mistake of attacking Russia, he was not fighting on two fronts.

America did not join as a fighting ally until the 7th. of December 1941, when the Japanese conducted their sneak attack on the US Navy at Pearl harbor without first declaring war. Winston Churchhill gave a huge sigh of relief, he now knew we were finally on the road to victory.

But, DON'T EVER FORGET!! = without Britain and her three supporting nations standing fast over those two years it is most unlikely that the freedom we enjoy today would exist.

In August of 1939, I went to war at sea, as a 17 year old Cadet Midshipman in the heavy 8 inch gun cruiser HMAS Australia. I had joined  the Royal Australian Naval College as a 13 year old in 1936. We then fought the Battle of the Atlantic for over a year during the time after Dunkirk when we fought alone.

The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the roughest and coldest stretches of water to be found, it truly is "The Cruel Sea."

The German U-Boats were on top, and when we came into port we were bombed, particularly in Liverpool. Churchhill said: " The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war, was the U-Boat menace."

It was indeed a close run thing, but never did the British spirit lag, never ever did the British people contemplate surrender, I do not believe they ever knew when they were  beaten.

I was sunk in HMAS Canberra, by the Japanese at the Battle of Savo island in a night action on the 9th. of August 1942, when it all started I happened to be the Officer of the Watch on Canberra's bridge. That night we lost 84 Officers and Sailors, and another 109 were wounded.

In that battle, the US Navy lost 3 heavy cruisers, Quincy, Astoria, and Vincennes, an about 1,000 Allied sailors died, Japanese casualties, about 45.

I served the 6 years of WW2 at sea or overseas, with the exception of several short periods of leave at home.

On Anzac Day I remember Savo, I stop of think of those who died that night to keep "My Australia" and "Your Australia free from a foreign invader, and foreign domination. I offer them a humble "thank you" and suggest you all might do the same.

I was fortunate to survive those six years of war at sea including "Kamikaze" attacks that manifested itself in both of the Philippine invasions.

Shropshire's sister ship Australia had 6 Kamikaze aircraft crash on board causing deaths on wounding many of her company.

Finally, we were victorious in the Pacific, I was lucky to be present on board the heavy cruiser HMAS Shropshire, in Tokyo Bay, on the 2nd. of September 1945, to witness the total surrender of Japan, and to give thanks for my own survival.

In WW2, our Servicemen and Women suffered in the vicinity of 39,000 deaths, and another 72,000 were wounded. Thousands endured the horrors of prison camps, particularly the Japanese POW Camps in Java, Thailand, Burma and Japan, where they were forces to work as common slaves in the coal mines deep under the sea.

Whenever each of you here today, as an individual, enjoys the ability to do just as you desire, or course within the bounds of normal law and order - I say to you - PAUSE NOW AND THEN - I repeat it - PAUSE NOW AND THEN. Think about sacrifice - and offer up a simple "Thank You" to all who have served in the cause of freedom.

It as the Veterans, men and women who died - and those who survived, who all made it possible for each of us gathered here,  enjoy each day of our lives.



Thank you for your attention, and your patience.


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