The icons of Anzac

Published on LEUT Des Paroz (author), LSIS Paul McCallum (photographer)

Topic(s): Centenary of Anzac

Able Seaman Musician Racheal Byrnes plays the last post during HMAS Anzac's commemorative service off the coast of Anzac Cove. (photo: LSIS Paul McCallum)
Able Seaman Musician Racheal Byrnes plays the last post during HMAS Anzac's commemorative service off the coast of Anzac Cove.

While participating at Centenary of Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli and in the Sea of Marmara recently, several symbolic links to helped to reinforce the original ANZAC story to the crew of HMAS Anzac.

During a four day period, Anzac hosted a commemorative service for the submarine, HMAS AE2, participated in sailpasts for Turkish forces and later British and Irish forces, before taking pride of place in the sailpast for the Anzac Day dawn service, in company with 10 other ships. The ship then conducted their own Anzac Day service while being the backdrop for the Australian service at Lone Pine.

Taking pride of place in all the services was Anzac’s ensign staff flying the Australian White Ensign, which was gifted to the ship by the Government of Turkey.

Anzac’s Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey McGinley described the significance of the gift.

“The ensign staff is made from Turkish pine, cut from a tree at Lone Pine and turned in Turkey.

“It was presented to the Anzac crew during their deployment in 2005 for the 90th anniversary of Gallipoli.

“It is used exclusively for ceremonial occasions, and has taken pride of place throughout our Centenary of Anzac commitments, and will continue to do so throughout NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015, and beyond,” Lieutenant Commander McGinley said.

HMAS Anzac flies the Australian White Ensign on the ensign staff made of timber from Lone Pine as TGS Turgutreis and HMNZS Te Kaha conduct a sail-past rehearsal of Anzac Cove, before Centenary of ANZAC commemorations.

HMAS Anzac flies the Australian White Ensign on the ensign staff made of timber from Lone Pine as TGS Turgutreis and HMNZS Te Kaha conduct a sail-past rehearsal of Anzac Cove, before Centenary of ANZAC commemorations.


In another symbolic gesture, Anzac's crew have also each been gifted a replica of the Gospel according to St John, that was standard issue for all Australian servicemen in the First World War. These were donated by the Scripture Gift Mission of the Naval and Military Bible Society, London.

Anzac’s Chaplain, Chaplain Rainer Schack, thanked the donors for providing the replica Gospels.

“This pocket sized gospel provided important comfort to many young Australians who fought in the Great War.

“In an age where our members on deployment have more access than ever to the comforts of home, it is a very nice keepsake for members of our crew and a reminder of the few comforts available to their counterparts a century ago.

“We are very thankful to Naval and Military Bible Society for providing this historic keepsake,” Chaplain Schack said.

Like many of his shipmates, Lieutenant Bryan Gardam was appreciative of the gift.

“The pocket Gospel has the inscription on the front cover ‘Please carry this in your pocket and read it every day’.

“In honour of the original Anzacs, I carried it in my pocket throughout Anzac Day,” Lieutenant Gardam said.

The Australia Post stamp marking the centenary of the commissioning of Australia's first submarines.

The Australia Post stamp marking the centenary of the commissioning of Australia's first submarines.


While Anzac was commemorating the success and subsequent sinking of the AE2, Australia Post was launching a new first day cover and envelope marking the historic importance of the early submarine.

Able Seaman Terry Samuels, an Electronics Technician in Anzac and himself a submariner, appreciated the fact Australia Post’s generosity in sending envelopes over to distribute to the attendees at the AE2 commemorative event and members of Anzac’s crew.

“The submarine community is often known as the ‘silent service’, and to do this day few people know much about the role that submarines and submariners play.

AE2 was the first Allied submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara, and having transited the same route to the wreck site for the commemorative service, it was obvious to everyone just how significant an achievement that was.

“Having broken through in the early hours of 25 April 1915, the AE2’s success marked the start of what we know today as the Gallipoli campaign, and marked the birth of the Anzac legend.

AE2's deed are not widely known, so hopefully the release of the envelope by Australia Post will raise awareness of the ‘silent Anzac’,” Able Seaman Samuels said.

These icons provide an important link to the past, but the modern Anzac story is an ongoing, made up by the Australian men and women of all backgrounds who serve in the Australian Defence Force.

HMAS Anzac is part of that story, with around 190 women and men of diverse backgrounds who are proudly representing their country while deployed on NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 at a series of Centenary of Anzac commemorations and international engagements at Gallipoli, in the Dardanelles, the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa.