In the balmy pre-dawn quiet of a Mumbai morning, the ship’s company of HMAS Newcastle mustered on the flight deck to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.
HMAS Newcastle was in India for a four day visit, en-route to commencing operations in the Middle East region as part of Operation MANITOU.
Commanding Officer Commander Dominic MacNamara spoke about the 'baptism of fire' for a ‘new’ nation and how every family, including his own, was affected by the high Australian casualty rate.
“It is important to remember and respect the service and courage shown by the Anzacs and confirmed in the wars and conflicts that followed," he said.
"Our deployment is part of a continuing tradition and we will draw inspiration from those who have gone before us."
Sub Lieutenant Sam Mason, a Royal New Zealand Navy Maritime Warfare Officer, on an exchange posting in Newcastle, spoke of the significance of Anzac Day in his country. He reflected on the sacrifice of the New Zealand forces who lost a staggering 60 per cent of their fighting force, suffered the highest casualty rate of any Commonwealth country during the First World War and how traumatic this was for the country.
“This day reminds me of those who went before me, and who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the country I love so much,” he said.
Sub Lieutenant Mason also remembered the dedication of families who waited in hope – and of the families who still today wait and cope with the separation from loved ones currently serving on nine different operations in eight countries.
Lieutenant Commander Jodie Wilkinson, the ship's Maritime Logistics Officer, spoke about her experience of touring French and Belgium battlefields in 2010.
“What I found most moving was the youth of these men.
"They were so young that they did not have the opportunity to marry, nor did they have the opportunity to become fathers or grandfathers.
"They were barely just men, but they were so brave and selfless," she said.
Following the Ode, Last Post and Reveille, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Kaleb Cohen played a traditional song on the didgeridoo in honour of all indigenous personnel who have served.
Later that morning, 50 members of Newcastle’s crew attended a special commemorative service at the University of Mumbai where representatives of the Indian, Australian, New Zealand, Turkish, Canadian and American governments were present.
The Australian Consul General, Mr Mark Pierce, gave the address and Commander MacNamara recited the Ode to the Fallen. Commander MacNamara and Sub Lieutenant Mason also laid wreaths. Following the service, the crew took the opportunity share the day with Indian naval personnel.