Thursday 25th April will see large numbers of our community drawn to the Anzac Day services across the Bellingen Shire. Anzac Day is steeped in tradition and yet still captivates us as a nation today, more than 100 years after the Anzacs landing in Gallipoli in 1915. To understand how the day has evolved over the years and the lasting significance of Anzac Day to contemporary armed service women and men and the general public, we talked to Bellingen locals Susan Lumsdaine and Rick Maunder.
Susan Lumsdaine (pictured above) worked for the Australian Army for nearly 20 years. “I started as a Lieutenant Nursing Officer in the Army Reserve. In 1997 I started studying medicine and was transferred from the Reserve to the Regular Army and from Nursing to Medical Corps.
I continued to work in the Army as a doctor until I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel Medical Officer in 2016,” says Susan.
“Anzac Day is a time to come together with other veterans. It provides an opportunity for whole communities to reflect on war and peace, on freedom and suffering, and on sacrifices that people have made over the years in carrying out our government’s tasks,” says Susan.
Rick agrees that Anzac Day serves as a time for reflection. “Some people I’ve worked with closely over the years have suffered death, physical injury and psychological injury. Some have died after leaving the ADF in tragic circumstances. I have huge respect for those men and women who served and those who lost their lives in conflict and training,” says Rick.
Rick enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in Jan 1975 as a Private and was allocated to the Infantry Corps. “The majority of my Army career was served in Infantry Battalions or in an instructional role at an Army training establishment. I started as a Rifleman (Infantryman) and progressed through the ranks to Regimental Sergeant Major before commissioning to Captain in January 2000 and retired in March 2012 as Major,” says Rick.
Rick and Susan have served extensively both in Australia and overseas and have seen first hand the sacrifices that service personnel make. Both are aware of the debate around Anzac Day’s contemporary significance, but both feel that a day to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations is not only relevant but an essential element of our modern culture. “The 92 names on Bellingen’s War Memorial are men and women who died overseas. Some have no known grave, some died in unimaginable circumstances. They all died doing the Australian Government’s bidding. Their families and communities have had to grieve,” says Rick.
“I think that Anzac Day will continue to be commemorated each year. It is tightly bound to the Australian psyche in that there is much attributed to forging the Australian character during the Gallipoli campaign. Those characteristics that became linked to being “Aussie” continued in the valour of service men and women in the Second World War and subsequent conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, as well as the many peace enforcing and peacekeeping operations that Australia has taken part in since Vietnam,” says Susan.
“Many recently returned armed service men and women see themselves as custodians of the traditions of ANZAC, although they certainly are not involved in military operations anywhere near the deadly intensity and duration of WW1 and 2 and hopefully the ADF never will be again,” says Rick.
There are no WW1 veterans alive to tell the story. However, Bellingen’s surviving WW2 veterans Hal Hobson (RAAF Pilot), Valda Watt (Army Nurse) and Newton Howard (Army Infantry Officer) will hopefully be present at this year’s commemorative services, along with the Shire’s many retired service men and women and the appreciative community.
5.30am – Dawn Service at Cenotaph
9.00am – March & Wreath Laying
6.30am – Dawn Service at Cenotaph
10.45am – Assemble at corner of Morgo and Bowra Streets for 11.00am March
11.15am Anzac Service at Cenotaph
5.30am – Dawn Service at Memorial Tablet (cnr Bailey Street & Mylestom Drive)
Breakfast will follow the Dawn Service at North Beach Bowling Club
(to be confirmed)
5.30am – Dawn Service at Cenotaph
11.00am – March & Wreath Laying