Anzac Day, Melbourne 2009
This year I was honoured by being invited to lead the Melbourne Anzac Day March.
With my dicky left knee I had a tryout on the distance involved on the Thursday prior to the day in question. I had made it to the last segment up the Shrine of Remembrance's slope to the forecourt and the Eternal Flame.
I then had a running skirmish with the top brass of the Returned Services League, I wished to ride in a WW2 Jeep until Anzac Parade, when I would get out, and march the last section up to the forecourt of the Shrine.
After much argy bargy I won the day, and that is what was carried out, it worked very well. I was given a Naval car with driver and a Warrant Officer from HMAS Cerberus, ( the Navy's major Training establishment in Australia ) as my ADC.
They collected me from home at 5.15 AM for the Dawn Service at the Shrine, where 40,000 people had gathered to recall that first Anzac Day at Gallipoli back in 1915.
I was invited to Government house for breakfast with other VIP's by the Lieutenant Governor, the State Governor was off to Turkey to attend the Anzac Day service at Anzac Cove.
After breakfast, I was driven to Federation Square where the head of the March was located.
It all went as planned, and after my duties were completed I was able to sit in the Vice Regal area and watch the 15,000 veterans march and recall their mates from the various wars in which my country has been involved.
During this time I was able to talk to and lobby various senior people, including our Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was very interested in the Naval Heritage Foundation's project to erect at Port Melbourne a statue of a WW2 sailor " Answering The Call " Julia promised to help in Canberra with our application to the Treasury to be granted Designated Gift Recipient status so we could obtain Tax deductibility for donations.
At the conclusion of the march, the Official Party lined up across the forecourt to march up the Shrine steps for the service to conclude proceedings. The Deputy PM was on my right, The State Premier John Brumby on my left, on reaching the steps, both took me by the arm, to march me up the steps and ensure I made it safely to the top.
After the service concluded I was driven home, all in all, a great day, and an honour for me, I felt I was representing all my ships and their companies over the duration of WW2.
Here are the newspaper reports, and some photos of this occasion.
In the press:
Naval historian’s luck and courage leads Anzac march - Stonnington Leader April 21st, 2009.