Following in great-grandfather's footsteps

Published on FLTLT Chloe Stevenson (author), POIS Andrew Dakin (photographer)

Location(s): Lone Pine Memorial, Turkey

Topic(s): Anzac Day

Royal Australian Navy sailor, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Amanda May from Australia's Federation Guard holds a picture of her great-grandfather, Erskine Edward May who fought at Gallipoli. (photo: POIS Andrew Dakin)
Royal Australian Navy sailor, Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Amanda May from Australia's Federation Guard holds a picture of her great-grandfather, Erskine Edward May who fought at Gallipoli.

Royal Australian Navy Able Seaman Amanda May is the first military member in her family to return to Gallipoli since her great-grandfather fought there more than a century before.

As soon as her proud parents, Darren and Trisha May, heard their daughter had been selected for ceremonial duties with Australia’s Federation Guard at the Anzac Day Gallipoli services, they booked flights from the NSW Central Coast to Turkey.

Able Seaman May, a boatswain’s mate, said her great-grandfather, Private Erskine May, was aged 21 when he landed at Gallipoli.

“He was part of the 13th Infantry Battalion; he fought at Anzac Cove and Lone Pine and later on joined the 45th Battalion. He survived both wars and came home,” Able Seaman May said.

“It is surreal being here and seeing how small the beach was and how steep the terrain he fought on.”

She said having her family in Turkey made their connection to Gallipoli even closer.

“When I found out I was coming to Gallipoli, the first person I called was my Mum,” Able Seaman May said.

“Dad booked a trip straight away and it’s really special to have them come out and watch me not only raise the flag but also be part of the catafalque party at Lone Pine. 

Darren May watched his daughter conduct catafalque party rehearsals for Anzac Day at the Lone Pine Memorial.

He said it was every father’s dream for their child to represent Australia and be involved in a ceremony that is so special.

“I thinks it’s an honour that any parent gets a phone call to say that their son or daughter is going to come over here to perform the ceremonial services,” Mr May said.

“Now that Amanda’s in the services, she has really inspired us to find out a lot more about him [Private Erskine May].

“I was really young when he passed so don’t have many memories of him, but through Amanda being in the services, it has really reinvigorated the family. 

“He was very lucky; when you come over here and the stories you hear...if you made it home it was obviously very special.”

Australia’s Federation Guard and the Royal Australian Air Force Band supported Anzac Day ceremonies on April 24 and 25 across the Gallipoli peninsula.