Ship’s company join Anzac Day March in Queensland town of Kuttabul

Published on LEUT Nic Hawkins (author), Ms Barbara Perna (photographer)

Location(s): Kuttabul, QLD

Topic(s): HMAS Kuttabul, Anzac Day, HMAS Kuttabul (I)

HMAS Kuttabul's Ship's Warrant Officer Robert Van Eldik and Petty Officer Nathan Dwyer with past and serving members at Hampden State School, Kuttabul, Qld for the Dawn Service on Anzac Day 2014. (photo: Ms Barbara Perna)
HMAS Kuttabul's Ship's Warrant Officer Robert Van Eldik and Petty Officer Nathan Dwyer with past and serving members at Hampden State School, Kuttabul, Qld for the Dawn Service on Anzac Day 2014.

‘Kuttabul’ is synonymous with the Royal Australian Navy values its members hold dear. The name has adorned the hull of a ship and today, a significant Royal Australian Navy base all of which are named after Kuttabul, the proud town in Northern Queensland.

On 1 June 1942, HMAS Kuttabul, a Sydney steam ferry which was converted to living barracks during World War II, sunk during a torpedo attack by a Japanese midget submarine killing 21 sailors who were sleeping aboard.

Today’s HMAS Kuttabul is a large Royal Australian Navy base, named for the ferry Kuttabul. The base’s role includes providing administrative, training and logistics support to the Fleet.

The Navy appreciates tradition and in that spirit, every year serving members from the base Kuttabul take part in the Anzac Day commemorations in Kuttabul town.

This year, Ship’s Warrant Officer Robert Van Eldik and Petty Officer Nathan Dwyer travelled to Kuttabul, 43km north west of Mackay, to participate in the Dawn Service and march alongside past serving members.

PO Dwyer said he was thrilled to be asked to represent not only the Navy but also the Australian Defence Force in the lead up to and including Anzac Day.

“It’s such a privilege to be asked to represent the Navy and ADF at Kuttabul, to talk about my experiences in the Defence Force and participate in the Anzac Day march.

“I was amazed that while Kuttabul town’s population is only 1,000 people, there were 800 odd veterans marching through the town with me, there is very proud history here and I feel honoured to be a part of it.

“Warrant Officer Van Eldik laid a wreath and I spoke to the community about the importance of honouring our fallen, those who have returned form service, those who continue to serve as well as being thankful to the family and friends of these members for their continued support and encouragement.

“Anzac Day is always moving, and to participate in an Anzac Day march and ceremony of a town steeped in Navy history, and me having served for so long in the Navy is particularly fulfilling.”

On the day prior to Anzac Day, WO Van Eldik and PO Dwyer visited some local primary schools in the region including the Mirani State School where they laid a wreath, and they also spoke to pupils at the Hampden State School.

Anzac Day is an integral part of our nation’s history as well as an enduring inspiration for our future as many people come together to acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice for the fallen.