Just a short update this week as I write this on Anzac Day to give time for the editing process by Friday’s release date… and there is an AFL match to watch and two-up to play. Next week we'll have time to give a more fulsome summary of how this most important of days has been spent in Antarctica. A key date in the consciousness of so many Australians and New Zealanders; it was certainly the case for the Casey expeditioners this year.
Instead of taking any glory from Macca’s Anzac report for next week, I thought I would instead share with you a portion of my speech given at this morning’s Dawn Service:
Let us also remember those Antarctic expeditioners who have served in the defence forces in times of conflict. Mawson and Hurley are such men, names that we will recognise, but there are many more…
Bob Bage, for example. He travelled south (on leave from the Army) with Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition as an astronomer, assistant magnetician, and recorder of tides. Spending two years at Commonwealth Bay in ‘the Home of the Blizzard’, he returned to Australia only to die a few short months later. Killed by Turkish machine gun fire at Gallipoli just 12 days after the landing.
Or, Leslie Russell Blake, another of Mawson’s men. His carefully drafted map of Macquarie Island is still one of the most accurate representations of that island. He died on 3 October 1918 just weeks before the Armistice. He was awarded the Military Cross for his courage.
And then there is Sir Hubert Wilkins, after whom our runway is named. In 1917 he was appointed as official photographer in the Australian Infantry Force (working with Hurley). He showed great bravery, working under fire and through barrages to get his photographs, often ahead of advancing troops. He was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts to rescue wounded soldiers in the 3rd Battle of Ypres, better known now as Passchendaele, and received a Bar for his Military Cross for temporarily leading out of danger a company of American soldiers, whose officers had been killed. In all, he was wounded nine times; shot, shrapnelled, gassed, blown up and blasted out of the skies.
Wilkins survived the war to later become a polar explorer, undertaking the first exploratory flights in Antarctica.
We reflect on this past with pride; on the men who survived Antarctica’s cold bite only to be cut down in battle just months after their return; on these men who have displayed the characteristics of the Anzac spirit when at war, and when exploring this hostile continent.
I like to believe the Anzac spirit lives on in each one of us (why else would we be here); comradeship, selflessness, and tenacity of spirit. Let us always strive to display those characteristics so we can be worthy of the memory of those who came before us and who we remember today.
Let’s take the time today to reflect on how lucky we are that they did all come before us, and to also appreciate the mateship, friendship and camaraderie we share as members of an Antarctic station.
Lest we forget.
Rebecca (Casey Station Leader)