April 28 - May 4, 2024: Issue 623


Anzac Day In Pittwater 2024 - From Dawn To Dusk: North Narrabeen, Anzac Village Narrabeen, Warriewood To Mona Vale At Pittwater RSL Cenotaph, Newport, Bilgola Beach, Avalon Beach, Whale Beach, Palm Beach, Collaroy Beach

Includes the Anzac Day Addresses given by Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch President Deborah Carter and Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch President Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN.

Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch President, Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN
Anzac Day 11am March at Avalon Beach led by the 201 Army Cadet Unit


Narrabeen RSL Sub-Branch: Narrabeen Cenotaph Sunday April 21

The Sunday April 21 ANZAC day 2024 service at Narrabeen Cenotaph was hosted by the Narrabeen RSL Sub-Branch. This included all the Narrabeen surf life saving clubs and students from local schools North Narrabeen and Narrabeen Sports High School, former Member for Mackellar Bronwyn Bishop AO, Pittwater MP Rory Amon, the Manly Warringah Pipe band and the local emergency services. This was a very moving service. 

Anzac Day: Thursday April 25 - RSL ANZAC Village Narrabeen Dawn Service + Veterans Leading The Sydney CBD March

Dawn Service

RSL LifeCare held an Anzac Day Dawn Service at RSL ANZAC Village, Narrabeen to honour the brave men and women who have served our country. We were joined by thousands of community members including RSL LifeCare residents, families and friends, team members, volunteers, as well as members of the local community.

The service was presided over by RSL ANZAC Village Manager Stephanie Stoddard as the MC, with the Catafalque Guard Mount provided by 201 Army Cadet Unit - Northern Beaches. The Oath was delivered by Councillor Ruth Robins of the Northern Beaches Council, followed by a beautiful rendition of the hymn "Abide with Me" by the Northern Beaches Symphonic Wind Ensemble, led by Mr Brian Evans.

RSL LifeCare Director David Mann introduced the esteemed guest speaker, Colonel Jacqueline Costello, Command Psychologist - Forces Command, who delivered a powerful Anzac Address. Prayers of thanksgiving and for Service Personnel were offered by RSL LifeCare Peter Cosgrove House Facility Manager, Ms Sarah Purcell and Chief Inspector David Richards, Northern Beaches Police Area Command, respectively.

The service also included reading of ‘The meaning of Anzac’ by RSL LifeCare resident and Chairman of the ANZAC Village War Museum, Mr Tony Carter, and the laying of wreaths by the official party. The Ode was delivered by the Acting President of The War Vets RSL sub-Branch, Mr Roy Parkinson, and guests observed 'One Minute’s Silence'. The Last Post and Reveille were played by Katie Gillings.

The service concluded with a Benediction delivered by Reverend Tony Bradford, followed by the New Zealand and Australian National Anthems performed by the Northern Beaches Symphonic Wind Ensemble. The Catafalque Party and Flag Party then dismounted, and closing remarks and thanks were given by RSL ANZAC Village Manager Stephanie Stoddard.

Manly Warringah Pittwater Cab Motorcade for CBD March

We are thankful for the assistance provided by the NSW Police Force and Manly Warringah Taxis in coordinating the taxi cavalcade and ensuring our veterans from the War Vets Village in Narrabeen could participate in the CBD Anzac Day March year after year. This partnership is more than just transportation; it's a cherished tradition deeply rooted in history.

''The tradition of the cabs from RSL ANZAC Village Narrabeen leading the march each year holds a special place in our hearts. It's a testament to the camaraderie and respect shared amongst our community.

After the dawn service each year at the RSL ANZAC Village cenotaph, there is a community breakfast and then veterans from the village who have wounds or frailty that prevent them from marching, are seated in the cabs.

The Motorcade of many Cabs are marshalled into order, careful to maintain the order of the cabs in the seniority by conflict/year of the occupants in each cab.

The motorcade has a significant Police escort that coordinates a green light run into the city all the way from Narrabeen.

The police take great pride each year, as do the cab drivers, in being able to get these senior veterans to the CBD march and back.''

Information and Photos; RSL LifeCare

Mona Vale - Warriewood: Dawn Service At Pittwater RSL Cenotaph

Led by Deborah Carter President of Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch this was attended by over 1500 residents. 
Brothers Ben and Jason Riley, Knox Old Boys Pipes and Drums, were the Pipers.
Sqd Ldr Dr Anna Williams sang the “Recessional”
Pastor Michael Hubbard, from The Link Church, recited  “The Prayer for the Nation’
Terry Jones, Vice President recited the Ode of Remembrance.
Dr Harriet Channon played “The Last Post”

Wreaths  and books laid by:

  • DEBORAH CARTER, Pittwater RSL sub-Branch President
  • LEIGH ARNOLD, Pittwater RSL Club Ltd President
  • JASON MANNING, Pittwater RSL Club Ltd CEO
  • RORY AMON, MP, Member for Pittwater
  • ALYN RUBIE, representing Dr Sophie Scamps, MP for Mackellar
  • INSPECTOR VANESSA ROBINSON, Northern Beaches Police Area Command
  • PETER THOMAS, Men’s Bowling Club President
  • SUE BRANDENBURG, Women’s Bowling Club President
  • Northern Beaches Councillors: KARINA PAGE representing Mayor Sue Heins, MICHAEL GENCHER, BIANCA CRVELIN
  • KYLIE ADAMS-COLLIER, representing Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Association
  • LIVIA AND ODETTE BURNS, representing children of current serving members
  • Mater Maria Catholic College
  • Mona Vale Public School
  • Narrabeen North Public School
  • St Luke’s Grammar School, Bayview Campus
  • Sacred Heart Primary School
  • Pittwater High School
  • Bayview Sea Scouts
  • Mona Vale Surf Life Saving Club
  • Warriewood Surf Life Saving Club
  • North Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club
  • Mona Vale Fire Station
  • Pittwater RSL Football Club
  • Warringah Rats Rugby Club
  • Northern Beaches Hot Rods

A pause to remember and honour Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch comrades who passed in 2023.

Joe Crumlin OAM, Bill Hardman, Barry McFarland, Chris Christensen, John Ward OAM, Ted Curtis, Jonathan Conrad, Paul Batson and David Fairweather.

Pittwater RSL Daw Service: Anzac Day Address
Given By Deborah Carter President Of Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch

This year’s theme for ANZAC Day is “Discover the stories of Veterans in your local community”.

I would like to share a “Snap Shot” of some of veterans at Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch.

I was a Nursing Officer in the RAAF serving at RAAF Richmond and No. 3 Hospital, outpatients~.. the health promotions unit. 1986-1993.

Bob Wood, our Treasurer, was called up for National Service within Australia from 1966-1968. He then transferred to the CMF.

Leigh Arnold, Pittwater RSL Club President, joined the regular Army under National service 1973-1976, with six months operational service in Singapore in 1973.

Darren Crabb, Pittwater RSL Club Vice President, spent 15 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a fighter pilot. He transferred to the RAAF in 1996 flying FA-18 Hornets with 77 Squadron. Darren is now a corporate pilot flying the Gulf Stream 650.

Our Vietnam Veterans who saw Active/Operational duty:

Gary Everitt, Army, an engineer on small boats 

John Cicolini (my brother in law) RAN. Royal Australian Navy HAMAS.

Ray Cicolini was in the RAAF during Vietnam, as part of 35 SQN based in south Vietnam

Graham Keats, Army

Theo Chere, Army and Tunnel Rat

Denis DeSilva, RAN on HMAS Perth

Bernie O'Neill was a medic in the United States Navy who supported the United States Marine Corp. Bernie was awarded a Purple Heart.

Stan Juracich. USMC. Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Terry Jones, Sub-Branch Vice President, was with 9RAR and was ready to deploy to Vietnam, when Gough Whitlam became PM and ceased any further personnel to be deployed.

Brian Leary a volunteer was a steward with Qantas, and was on the first plane to be deployed to Vietnam carrying troops and armaments, and several of the flights that followed.

Gerry Faramus, Army, was sent to PNG.

John Chambers served as a sub-Mariner in the Navy.

Current serving members:

Sub/LT Zamri Burns

SQN/LDR Dr. Anna Williams, our soprano, is a Military historian.

FLT/LT Frances Watkins, joined the RAAF as a pharmacist, and now works as a Logistic Officer.

Members of the 7 Battery, 9 Regiment:

SGT Shane Fender, Border Protection and Peace Keeping in the Solomon Islands. Covid assist

SGT Ross Wagland, Border Protection and Peace Keeping in Timor Leste — Floock assist

Bombardier Joe Chase Berry, Border Protection and Peace Keeping - Solomon Islands Covid assist. 

Bombardier Matt Hill, Border Protection and Peace Keeping

Seargent Jack Snowden Guard Commander Border Protection (2024) and assit during Bushfires

All our Catafalque party members, including Jeff Brown, Parade Commander, and Jack Snowden our Guard Commander, have worked in Fire and Flood Assist. And Covid Assist. 

Kiwi Kerry Poha served with the New Zealand Army.

LT/Colonel Ollie Ford recently retired from the British Army. He is in America attending the wedding of his Mentee through the TAPS.ORG. Att association. His wife and 3 children are representing Ollie today.

WW2 Veterans:

Brian Sargeson is our youngest WW/2 Veteran at 93 years of age. Brian joined the Navy towards the end ofWW2 as a Naval Cadet when he was just 15 years of age. 

Sub/LT Neale Heal is 98 years old and served on mine sweeper. He sailed the Atlantic ocean, North Sea and English Channel.

Our oldest Veteran is Gwen Sneesby, Nee Forster. Gwen will turn 100 on 17 June 2024.

Gwen was a WRAN and worked at the Degaussing Station at Bradleys Head. Gwen was on leave the night the Midget sub bombed the HMAS Kuttabul.

Peter Icely, Army, who will be 100 on 19 June 2024, served in Buna New Guinea.

Finally, Affiliate Member, Beryl Clarke, nee Byron, was a school girl at Mona Vale Public School during WW/2. Her older sister was in the AWAS and her 4 brothers all were deployed overseas. Two were POW’s of the Japanese, one a Rat of Tobruk and one a 16 year old lad on the Kokoda Track. Miraculously, all 4 boys survived the war and returned home.

Anzac Day is not just about WW2(the war to end all wars) but is a remembrance of all campaigns in theatres of war and sadly many wars have followed.

In my view, the war that changed Australia was WW2 because the enemy was close on our doorstep and the Brisbane line was proposed. With the fear of occupation of the Japanese, the government decided that the Japanese could live north of Brisbane, and the Australians could live south of Brisbane.

I pay tribute to ourWW2 veterans, the young men of the militia of Kokoda, Templeton’s Crossing, the battles Milne Bay, Gona and Buna which broke the back of the Japanese from further aspirations to take Australia.

I also pay tribute to the 7" division on returning from the Middle East who assisted with this triumph.

Anzac Day is not just a day we remember our Anzacs, but we salute all veterans who have put on the uniform, in particular, our current serving members and Reservists who have kept us safe during fire assist, Covid safe, floods and border control. 

Thanks to our Kiwi cousins.

May we and our successors prove worthy of their sacrifice.

Lest we forget.


Kylie Adams-Collier, who laid a wreath, said ''Thank you Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch for including me and the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society as part of your 2024 ANZAC Day Dawn Service.''

Andrea Williams, who conducted the research into Rabaul and Montevideo Maru and was part of he group, led by Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch and past President Walter Williams, who worked with former Pittwater MP Rob Stokes to install a dedicated memorial to commemorate the 1800 service men and women who lost their lives at sea while being transported to Japan and islands in the South West Pacific during World War II at Mona Vale’s headland (Robert Dunn Reserve), unveiled in 2022, was attending an Anzac Day Service at Rabual.

The Dawn Service was followed by a community breakfast. In the afternoon 2up was attended by a large crowd. Pittwater RSL ended the day with offering free music from band 'The Frocks''.

Photos: Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School Mona Vale, Deborah Carter, Kylie Adams-Collier and Pittwater RSL

 Ben and Jason Riley

Kylie Adams-Collier


Dawn Service At Newport Cenotaph, Trafalgar Park

A large crowd gathered in Trafalgar Park at Newport for the annual Dawn Service at the Newport Cenotaph. This has been growing year by year.

The following organisations, clubs and community groups laid a wreath at the Newport Anzac Day Dawn Service to remember those who fought for our country: 

  • Newport Plus Boardriders
  • Newport Community Garden
  • Newport Public School
  • Newport Residents Association
  • Newport Chamber of Commerce
  • Newport Bowling Club
  • Newport Surf Life Saving Club
  • Newport Breakers Rugby Club
  • Newport Breakers Netball Club
  • Newport Golden Oldies Over 35's Rugby Club
  • Warringah Rats
  • Newport Junior Rugby Club
  • The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - RPAYC
  • Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay
  • Marine Rescue Broken Bay
  • Bilgola Beach Volleyball Club

Newport Public School has an Honour Roll in the school hall proudly displaying the names of students who served in war. The current school leaders continued the schools long history at the Trafalgar Park Cenotaph and lay a wreath remembering all former students.

A very special thank you to Ian Crutch who has dedicated many hours keeping the beautiful Newport Cenotaph maintained for the Newport Anzac Day Dawn Service. Ian your hard work is appreciated by everyone in our community. Thank you.

Photos: Marine Rescue Broken Bay and Newport Anzac Day committee.

Veterans - 2Up hosted by Newport Bowling Club

Newport Bowling Club: 'Thank you Newport community and friends for supporting our ANZAC Day event. What a great day out in the sunshine!'

Photos: Newport Bowling Club

Bilgola Beach

Bilgola SLSC's Anzac morning ceremony and traditional SLS March Past commenced at 8:45am ANZAC day. Club open to everyone, sausage sizzle and bar will open. 

2-up in the garden area. 

Marching in the Bilgola Beach parade today was 77-year-old Steve Broughton-Rouse, called up for National Service at the age of 20, who was conscripted into the Australian army's First Battalion. Anzac Day is always especially tough for him. After training at Puckapunyal, Singleton and Canungra, at the last minute he was pulled out due to asthma.

What "ripped me apart", Steve told me at after the March, was that he then gave his best friend, Dal Abbott, his M60 machine gun. Steve and Dal's sister saw him off at the wharf for the voyage to Vietnam on the aircraft carrier Melbourne. "Little did we know," Steve said. Dal was killed 12 weeks later.

Information: Cr. Miranda Korzy, Photos; Adrian Wegrzyn of Bilgola SLSC

Church Point

At the Church Point ceremony, local resident Graham Stenner, who served in the Australian Army from 1963 to 83 which included service in Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia, told the crowd that ANZAC Day was all about those who did not return, and acknowledging their widows and orphans. 

Those who lost their lives included merchant mariners, Bob Hamilton, told us at that ceremony, with former Pittwater Councillor Ian White leading the service. Bob's father, a merchant mariner born in 1876, whose early years at sea were spent on tall ships, served in all the wars in which Australia was a combatant during the 20th century and earlier. Although he survived, hundreds of sailors like him, transporting the machinery of war to battlegrounds, died when their unarmed ships were attacked. (The war memorial estimates the number to be more than 500, but names are still being added.) 

Photos and information: Cr. Miranda Korzy

Avalon Beach Dawn Service - 11am March And Service

Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch Dawn Service

Service conducted by Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN, President of Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch, assisted by Paul Sinclair, President of Avalon Beach RSL Club Limited.

Requiem for Anzac Day Dawn Service given by Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN, President of Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch

Catafalque Party: formed from 201 Army Cadets
Vale: given by Tamara Sloper-Harding OAM, Vice P{resident Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch and Paul Sinclair, President of Avalon Beach RSL Club Limited
Laying of Wreaths by:

  • Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch Vice President – Capt. Ian Campbell RAN
  • Paul Sinclair, President of Avalon Beach RSL Club Limited
  • Cr. Miranda Korzy on behalf of council (book)
Flanders Field Recited by Barrenjoey High School Vice Captain Brooke Gibson
Hymns led by Samantha Shaw

Around 2000 people attended the Dawn Service hosted by Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch and Avalon Beach RSL Limited this year. A community breakfast was held after the Dawn Service, also well attended.

Some pictures from the 2024 Dawn Service:

Avalon Beach and Pittwater RSL Sub-Branches 11am March and Service

Around 2000 people attended the Dawn Service hosted by Avalon Beach and Pittwater RSL Sub-Branches and Avalon Beach RSL Limited this year. The Main Services was preceded by the March along Old Barrenjoey Road and Avalon Parade into Dunbar Park and Avalon Beach Cenotaph.

The Pittwater Online Anzac Day 2024 11am March and Service at Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch Album for pictures for your own family albums HERE   

Service conducted by Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN, President of Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch

Guests of Honour
Dr. Sophie Camps MP, Member for Mackellar
Inspector Vanessa Robinson, Northern Beaches Police Area Command
Cr. Karina Page

Catafalque Party: by 201 Army Cadet Unit

The Ode: read by Deborah Carter, President of Pittwater RSL Sub-Branch

Reverend Sturt Young, Senior Pastor Barrenjoey Anglican Churches
Father Richard Sadowski of the Catholic Priests of Pittwater

Poems: given by Barrenjoey High School Captain
Flanders Fields – read by Noah Smith
The Poppy – read by Summer Campbell

Hymns led by: The Big Sing
Band: Barrenjoey High School Concert Band 

2024 Anzac Day Address
Given By Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN, President Of Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch

Introduction by Tamara Sloper-Harding OAM

ANZAC Day in Avalon Beach is an annual community highlight. The support we receive from our community is incredible. Every year we host a special guest, from somewhere else in Australia, a senior military officer who delivers the ANZAC address. This year, however, I thought it would be nice for us to hear from one of our own. A hero in our midst whose past achievements and adventures are largely unknown. An Avalon local whom you may have seen around the village, at the beach, at the dog park with Romsey, on Sundays at St Mark’s Church and often the RSL.

We have been fortunate to have outstanding RSL Sub Branch Presidents over the years. Past President Captain Milo Maley, who fulfilled much of his role whilst also serving in Afghanistan on active duty and before him Commodore Graham Sloper to name just two. Now we are blessed to have a Northern Beaches-raised mariner at the helm. Commodore Richard Menhinick AM CSC.

Many are unaware of the difference between the RSL Club and the RSL Sub Branch. The latter is a registered charity, run by volunteers, its role is to look after veterans' welfare, support them and their families and maintain the ongoing traditions and memorials. Both organisations work closely together and the veterans of the Sub Branch are extremely grateful for the support of the club manager Cristo and his staff. We are one of the few RSL Clubs where the staff actually recite the Ode of Remembrance at 1800 each day rather than play a recording. 

The President of the Avalon RSL Sub Branch, Richard, was raised in Seaforth, Balgowlah and Belrose. He went to Seaforth Infants School, Wakehurst Public School, and was in the inaugural year of Davidson High School. Some of his classmates, Michael Hutchence and Andrew Fariss from INXS were well known here at Avalon RSL in the past. Unfortunately, Richard does not share their musical talents and you may notice we have asked him to step away from the microphone when we join in song! Luckily his wife Michelle makes up for this and is supporting us today with The Big Sing.

Richard joined the Navy in 1976 at only 16, completing his schooling at HMAS Creswell, the Royal Australian Naval College. He specialised as a Direction (Combat Systems and Air Warfare) Officer. This resulted in a very exciting career with numerous sea-going and operational roles. The list of his achievements is extensive and here is but a sample;

Richard spent two years as a warfare officer at sea in the Royal Navy (HMS Cardiff).

He commanded two major surface combatants (HMA Ships Warramunga and Anzac); 

He had deployments to the Middle East with operations at sea during the 1990-91 Gulf War onboard HMAS Brisbane. 

Richard became the Director of the Navy’s major think-tank, the Sea Power Centre, and the Director General Military Strategy in Australian Defence Headquarters.

He was Chief of Staff to Vice Chief of the Defence Force and Commander Combined Task Force 150 in Bahrain. 

He led the Navy’s New Generation Navy Project from its commencement, including drafting the Navy’s Signature Behaviours and totally revised cultural & leadership training continuum. 

He was Commandant of the Australian Command & Staff College revising the curriculum into a proper strategic master’s degree and concluded his active service with three years within the US Central Command (CENTCOM) Headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

On return to Australia Richard carried out 7 years of sporadic Reserve Service including conducting an in-depth review into concurrency and Joint Training for the Commander of Joint Operations at Joint Operations Command and authoring the ADF Doctrine “Campaigning in Competition”. 

He has also worked for the Australian National University as a lecturer and a tutor, and was contracted by BAE Systems to assist in the closing stages of their successful bid for the Hunter Frigate program. 

On moving to Avalon several years ago, Richard posted a beautiful photo on Facebook . He and Michelle walking along a beach. I recognised the location immediately and homed in on a future Sub Branch member and possible president to be! I knew he would be perfect for this job – he did not stand a chance!

Richard has devoted his life to serving others and continues to do so. However, he is not alone in this. The commitment and sacrifices of a service persons family must not be discounted. Richard’s wife Michelle and their three children have also given to their country, given to us, in supporting him throughout his career and now in his role of caring for veterans and ensuring we keep the ANZAC Spirit alive.

Avalon Beach Community, please welcome our very own true hero, Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC.

Anzac Day 2024 Address

Given by Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN, President of Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch

This morning in our Dawn Service when I spoke, I focused on the solemnity of the occasion and of the privilege of having been in Anzac Cove at dawn on one occasion, onboard HMAS Anzac. I also spoke of the raw courage, conviction, a sense of service, mateship, and faith back on this day 109 years ago, to sit in a small boat, in the dark and to be rowed towards an unknown, unseen, and hostile shore.

Then as the dawn just begins to break, to see that you are in fact not where you thought you would be, landing on relatively flat rolling dunes, a bit like those on Avalon Beach just to our east, but faced by the rugged, vertical cliffs and crevasses behind what is now Anzac Cove. As this realisation broke on them, it must have been heart rendingly confronting and shocking. 

I also mentioned that the Anzac Story is in so many ways a story of a selfless sacrifice for love, fellowship, and community. It is a story that has moulded every one of us here today, either directly or indirectly. It is the story of young men, women, families and communities of Australians and New Zealanders. It reinforces the concepts that our society is built on service, love, fellowship, and community. 

That fateful morning, 109 years ago and the eight months of fighting on a strip of land no wider than that running from Kamikaze corner at the Bilgola Bends to the traffic lights on Kevin Avenue behind you, of hardship, loss, triumphs, and defeats that followed, in so many ways reflect the story of Australia. 

This day is intrinsically linked to the beach landing at Gallipoli in the early dawn of 25 April 1915. The fighting on that tiny peninsula and at sea around it, has become a rallying symbol of courage, tenacity, loss, and sacrifice. However, it is just a piece of the story. History tells us that since Federation, Australians have been called on many times to serve in operations, conflicts, and wars. They have served in all theatres, on or under the seas, on land and in the air. 

Since then, almost two million men and women have worn with pride the uniforms of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Merchant Navy in times of conflict and peace. Meanwhile women, men, families, and children at home have banded together with resilience to mobilise industry, food production and to keep society running in some dire times.

I remember vividly sitting in the Operations Room of the guided missile destroyer HMAS Brisbane in the very early hours of the 17th January 1991 as hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched from ships all around us and sorties of aircraft headed off to Iraq from the American aircraft carriers nearby. The flashes of missiles as they launched lit up the night sky for a long time. This was the start of the First Gulf War, a United Nations Security Council sanctioned conflict, just about the only one actually, which was aimed at removing the Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.

It is sometimes forgotten in the aftermath that the Iraqi order of battle had the capability of inflicting a large strike against coalition naval forces. The Iraqi air force comprised around 1300 aircraft at the time they invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Of these some 817 were fighters/fighter bombers and 14 dedicated bombers. Many of these were obsolete, however modern technologically capable aircraft included 83 Mirage variants with Exocet missiles and a number of Russian MIG variants.

My point is that as the ship’s company of HMAS Brisbane sat at Action Stations in the northern Persian Gulf after midnight and well into the early hours, we were convinced that a strong Iraqi response would be forthcoming and we were uncertain what the reaction from Iran would be. We had seen a number of Iraqi planes flying attack profiles at us in the months leading up to that day. However, as I looked around the Operations Room at the sailors with me, they were calm, professional, collected, and confident. I was the combat systems and air warfare officer in the ship and I was old at 31, while the majority of the sailors were between 20-23. We were simply young Australians, working for each other. We were and are the same as those Australians and New Zealanders who were in small boats on 25 April 1915. The same raw courage, conviction, sense of service, mateship, and faith was and is present then and now. 

As the years pass by and new generations emerge, it is important I think to anchor speeches with history, but then to bring them into today’s world and to make them resonate for today. I am no longer in uniform so I can range a little more freely than those who still serve may. Suffice to say that this is a poignant moment in time. The state of the World means that sadly today distressing events have and are occurring in so many places, including in Sydney, and what it means to be a strong inclusive western democracy is being challenged internally and externally. It does today bring a cause to pause and consider not just the past, but our present and future. 

We witness daily conflict in the Middle East, and we have passed the 2nd anniversary of Ukraine’s brave struggle for freedom against Russian tyranny. Our Defence Minister in a major speech at the National Press Club just last week stated that: “Our national security and our national prosperity are based on a stable peaceful region where the global rules- based order is preeminent and respected. Indeed, the rules of the road at sea are everything for us. When the rules-based order is under pressure, Australia is under pressure.”

This Anzac Day as our government, industries and Defence Force negotiate and strive for fairness, human rights, access to sea lanes on the High Seas and simply to uphold international agreements and laws, it is certainly worth all of us privately, in families and here today to pause for a few moments and consider not just how fortunate we are to be Australian, but also the responsibility we have to preserve a civilised dialogue and respect for each other and to champion what unites us as Australians, not what divides us. There seems to be too little of this in the news cycle and Anzac Day perhaps is one day we can ponder how to fix this.

Today events around the world forcibly remind us of the real nature of war. It is loss, destruction, dispossession, pain, and grief and these always characterise conflict, but they also threaten our cohesion here at home.

It is cohesive to honour the fact that since World War I, Australians have been called on many times to serve in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, predominantly opposing tyranny, oppression, and terror, although there are groups, including one the other day, that seek to highlight division for division’s sake, that seek to stress what divides over what unites.

Almost 2 million men and women have worn with pride the uniforms of the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, and Royal Australian Air Force. Importantly, and isn’t it great that we do a much better job now of acknowledging this, the families, wives, husbands and children, mums, and dads of those who have and are serving are also part of our Navy, Army and Air Force family and service today.

Tragically, over 103,000 names are listed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial, while countless others battle physical and mental injuries, some of which will last a lifetime.

One thing that should be considered at this time, as we honour our service personnel and those of our Allies, is how we can avoid this happening again in and to Australians. My last job in uniform was as a senior strategic policy advisor in the Headquarters of United States Central Command, which is responsible for defending and promoting U.S. interests in 21 nations in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the strategic waterways that surround them.

In this job I worked with a team of international military personnel from over 55 nations and we became life-long friends with many of them and their families.

The message in this, is that the more you understand each other and talk the smaller the differences actually are. I worked with officers from nations as diverse as Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Jordan, Georgia, Pakistan, the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, Egypt, the Lebanon, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and of course the US – the list goes on, so many more. I learnt so much more from them.

Last Remembrance Day, at a service on this very spot, but to only about 40 people, so I thought it worth repeating today to a much larger audience, I spoke of perhaps the most privileged opportunity of my life when I was Commandant of our Command and Staff College in Canberra and I met and listened to Eddie Jaku. Some of you may have heard of Eddie. He was born in Germany in 1920. His family considered themselves German first; Jewish second.

His family fought for Germany in the First World War. He showed me a photo of his family in the uniform of the German army. However, on 9 November 1938, the night immortalised as Kristallnacht, Eddie returned home from boarding school to an empty house. His family had been taken. At dawn the next day Nazi police burst in, Eddie was beaten and taken to Buchenwald, one of the Nazi concentration camps.

There are too many children here today to go through the awful details of what happened, suffice to say only he and his sister survived what we now call the Holocaust.

Eddie left Germany, married, and moved to Australia, raised a family, and volunteered at the Sydney Jewish Museum. Self-proclaimed as ‘the happiest man on earth’, (you may have read his book) he saw death every day throughout WWII, but he made a vow to himself to smile every day.

Eddie died in Sydney in 2021, aged 101. In 2012, at the age of 92, he presented for over an hour to my staff course officers. He remains the only person I have ever seen get a spontaneous standing ovation from all the students, including those from 22 other nations.

His message which I have tried to impart to my children, is that the most poisonous word in any language is “HATE”. I recall him saying that he never thought that a peoples so steeped in culture as the Germans, the country of music, think Beethoven as an example, art and literature, in the space of just 10 years could go from a democracy to a society and government system that permitted these things to happen.

He put it down to the destructive nature of hatred. His view was that this word should be expunged from our vocabulary and he had done this in his life, never hating and never using that word, and therefore he strove every day to be as happy and as understanding as he could be.

Working in such a multi-cultural and multi-religious environment for so long led me to think on this. It seems to me that there is a vicious circle where hatred leads to intolerance – intolerance breeds ignorance – ignorance leads to anger – anger leads back to hatred. And so, it goes on as tolerance, understanding and love is repressed.

A day that commemorates those who died so that we could live in a better, freer, and more inclusive world, is perhaps the best day to consider this. Artificial Intelligence and some internet services deal in hate so often that the challenge to remain decent and easy-going is significant. 

Please take from today’s service a vow to renew in yourselves and your children tolerance, understanding and love. Hatred is poison and those who commit heinous acts do so in full anticipation that such wanton acts, will invoke hatred as a reaction. 

It doesn’t mean that we can’t be appalled by the actions of some, but if someone like Eddie Jaku could do that his whole life, imagine what 27 million of us could do with a similar determined resolve, to be united, cohesive, to be Australians first and foremost, in memory of our Anzacs and all our fallen. 

Lest We Forget


Some pictures from the 2024 Avalon Beach and Pittwater RSL Sub Branches 11am March and Service:

Photos: A J Guesdon/Pittwater Online News

Whale Beach Dawn Service

Led by Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch and Whale Beach SLSC

Attended by Palm Beach RSL and Whale Beach SLSC Members and hundreds of residents. Flautist: Elvie van der Kraan of Barrenjoey High School, gave a beautiful rendition of the Last Post. Traditional surf boat paddle out and oars raised was conducted by Whale Beach SLSC.

Photos: The Palm Beach & Whale Beach Association and Richard Duncan

Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch 11am Service - Veterans And Guests Luncheon

The traditional March from Iluka road to the Palm Beach RSL cenotaph was followed by an Anzac Day Commemorative Service led by Mark Ferguson OAM, President of Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch and attended by Veterans, Palm Beach RSL Patron, former Mackellar MP Bronwyn Bishop AO and Pittwater MP Rory Amon and residents.

Avalon Public School's talented band, under the baton of Mrs. Sarah Shaw, played the New Zealand national anthem for the first time at this year's Palm Beach ANZAC Day service. Avalon PS band played superbly under the baton of Band Conductor, Charles Wilkinson. Avalon 2 Band Captains lay books for their school library on the cenotaph and Avalon PS Buglers were outstanding in their performance. Ex-student Adi joined the Band and proudly sang the National Anthem to the crowd. 

Following the Service Club Palm Beach hosted the Palm Beach RSL Sub-Branch Veterans, Members and Guests for a Luncheon.

Photos: Avalon Public School and Pittwater Online News

Collaroy RSL Sub-Branch: 58th Sunset Service

Conducted by Collaroy RSL Sub-Branch at 5pm.

Led by Colonel John Fairless, Retired, President of Collaroy RSL Sub-Branch

Joined by Presidents of Sub-Branches, Veterans, Former Mackellar MP Bronwyn Bishop AO, Pittwater MP Rory Amon, Collaroy SLSC. This included the traditional launching of the surf boats and oars up tribute. Full service via the video below.

Video: The Beach Club Collaroy