Lest we forget – Anzac Day

                                                                                 

                                                                  – Anzac Day –

On 4 August, 1914 Britain, on behalf of the Empire, declared war on Germany. Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years, and the new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world.

This was not Australia’s first incursion into warfare. They had participated in the Crimean, Sedan, Boer and China (Boxer Rebellion) conflicts. Almost 1000 Australians died during the Boer War, about half from disease, and five Australians received the VC in South Africa with many others receiving other decorations.

But it was at Gallipoli where the fortitude and bravery of the Anzacs came to the fore. The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. The Anzacs lost 8,000 men with a further 18,000 wounded. The Anzacs went on to serve with distinction in Palestine and on the western front in France. Australia had a population of five million – 330,000 served in the war, 59,000 were killed 152,000 were wounded, and over 4000 were taken prisoner. These men, along with their New Zealand comrades, became the legendary ‘ANZACS’.

The Anzac tradition continued in World War 2 with over 39,000 Australian servicemen killed, 65,500 wounded and 30,000 taken prisoner. A recent British television documentary told the story of the ‘Rats of Tobruk’. Once again what was thought to be a short deployment turned out to be a major battle lasting some five months. The narrator concluded the story stating that, ‘if the Australians had failed to out-manoeuvre and hold Rommel’s troops, Britain would have lost the war.’ For his service with the ‘Rats of Tobruk’ during and after war a Salvation Army Officer (Minister), Brigadier Sir Arthur McIveen received the OF, MBE and KB. Australians were also involved in Europe, naval battles, the Battle of Britain and Bomber Command including the dam buster raids.

In Rabaul the 2/22nd battalion of about 1400 stood alone against the overwhelming force of the Japanese. The raid by Japanese carrier-based aircraft on 20 January was the beginning of the end for Lark Force. In an engagement with 80 bombers and 40 fighters lasting less than ten minutes, three of RAAF 24 Squadron’s eight remaining Wirraways were shot down, one crashed on take-off and two were damaged in crash-landings.

Norm Furness was a corporal in the 2/22 Infantry Battalion sent to Rabaul. ‘On the 23rd of January, the Japanese fleet arrived,’ he said. ‘I counted 25 ships in the harbour that morning and there was something in the vicinity of 15,000 Jap troops there, a ratio of about 10 to every one of ours. We did the best we could for a short period of time, but wherever they struck any resistance, they just moved along a mile and there was nobody there and they came ashore. Before we knew where we were, we were being encircled and we got the order to get out. But no provisions whatsoever had been made for a retreat into the jungle. The commander of the force up there, J J Scanlan, issued the order about 11 o’clock on the 23rd of January ’42, that it was every man for himself. So we broke up into small groups and headed back into the jungle. We didn’t know where we were going, we didn’t know what we were going to do when we got there, and it just went on.’

The outnumbered Australian force was swiftly defeated and most of the survivors surrendered in the weeks after the battle. Few members of Lark Force survived the war. Of the approximately 1,050 Australians taken prisoner, at least 130 personnel were massacred on or about 4 February 1942. Six men survived these killings and later described what happened. At the nearby Waitavalo Plantation, 35 Australian prisoners were shot and 1,057 Australian soldiers and civilian prisoners from Rabaul were killed when the ship Montevideo Maru thought to be transporting them to Japan was sunk by a US submarine Sturgeon on 1 July 1942.

The story of the 2/22 AIF is of particular interest to me. In my teens I attended my first band practice at the Brunswick Salvation Army. Bandmaster Alpha Yealland took me up to the band room where I was met by walls full of photos. At the centre of one wall is a magnificent wooden plaque surrounded by six photos.

                                           

These are the seven men (including Bandmaster Arthur Gullidge and Songster Leader Harry Harvey) from the Brunswick Corps who were members of the 2/22nd  battalion band comprised mainly of Salvationist. The sole survivor of the band was Fred Kollmorgen. Six other bandsmen were members of the Territorial Staff Band (now the Melbourne Staff Band).  

                                                                 

              Australian Stamp issued to commenorate the centenary of Arthur Gullidge’s birth)

Extract from One Bloke’s Story by Rob Mitchell

‘Arthur, the son of a Broken Hill miner, became a Christian as a young boy and grew up with Jesus as his hero. He was an accomplished conductor and composer of band music who had his first work published at the age of 17. He had won two ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) national music competitions, two international Salvation Army competitions for composers of music for brass and was the publisher of The Regal Brass Band Journal, writing under two names, his own and the name Greendale. He was for a while bandmaster at Collingwood, one of Melbourne’s largest Salvationist bands before transferring to the Brunswick Corps. His music has a certain ’lift and drive’ to it. Arthur felt that he should play a part in Australia’s defence but decided that a non-combatant role, for a Christian, would be more appropriate. Arthur Gullidge and 25 other Salvationists from a number of citadels, ranging from Sydney to Hobart, marched en masse into the Royal Park Military Depot in Melbourne and enlisted as a group.

At age 32, Arthur Gullidge, the band leader, was commissioned by the Army to write a collection of band music for use on ceremonial occasions, comprising mainly short, classical pieces, hymn tunes, national songs and a set of standard bugle calls that would remain in constant use by the military, right on into the present. Mavis, Arthur’s wife, used to buy the latest sheet music of the time in Melbourne and send it to him, where he would rearrange it as a band march. The 2/22nd were marching to “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz”, not long after the movie opened in Melbourne.

The Salvation Army band, or should I say the Battalion band, continued to add colour to army life at Bonegilla. Occasionally the band would march around the camp in the early morning playing bright and happy tunes. The band, being Salvationists, naturally took part in the life of the local Salvation Army Corps. Some opposition arose from the military hierarchy regarding their playing at the Salvation Army open air meetings. Eventually the order came through that no Army personnel were to stand at street meetings. After that they marched around in big circles during the street meetings until they were finished.’

During the band’s farewell concert in Melbourne, Commissioner Dalziel presented the band with a Salvation Army flag, charging them ‘to carry the flag with them wherever the vicissitudes of war demanded their activities, to cling closely to the principles for which the Flag stood, and to remain faithful to God and the organisation.’ 1

During my nine years at Brunswick I was privileged to participate in the band’s annual pilgrimage to with the survivor’s of the 2/22battalion to Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.

                                                     

                                                            Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance

On one such occasion Colonel Appel, a survivor of Rabaul, devoted his entire address to the courage, fortitude and commitment of the Salvationists of the 2/22. He spoke about how they went beyond the call of duty undertaking tasks with an inner strength that could only come from on high. The way they cared for their dead, dying and wounded comrades was exemplary. This band of men are held in such high esteem that the Brunswick Band were allowed to play inside the shrine. The Australian Military School of Music still awards the ‘Arthur Gullidge Memorial Award to its outstanding pupil of the year.

The men of the 2/22nd band who survived the Japanese invasion and became prisoners of war were among 1,053 Australian prisoners of war and civilians on board the Japanese ship Montevideo Maru. Sadly their families did not learn of their loved one’s fate until after the conclusion of the war in 1945.

In 1967 a joint festival featuring Brunswick Citadel Band and the Melbourne Staff Band was held at Brunswick commemorating the 25th anniversary of the loss of the 2/22nd band. As Deputy Bandmaster at Brunswick I was afforded the privilege of conducting the band in the march ‘The Fount’, requested by Mrs Mavis Gullidge to be included in the programme.

                                      

                      

April 25 is Anzac Day when Australians pay tribute to all who have suffered and still suffer a result of war. Whilst it is right we remember those who made the supreme sacrifice, let us not forget those who fought and survived, and the families of those who serve and have served and all whose lives have been devastated by the futility of war.

1           Source: ‘Braveand True by Lindsey Cox

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s