Wet weather meant the HMAS Albatross Remembrance Day ceremony was relocated to the Fleet Air Arm Museum’s World War One exhibition area where the guests were seated alongside a replica of the Sopwith Pup biplane flown by WWI flying ace Captain Robert Alexander Little.
This setting provided a fitting backdrop for Commanding Officer Captain Gordon Andrew’s address in which he reflected on the significance of Remembrance Day and the role of the Royal Australian Navy.
“In the four years of the war the Australian Navy had seen action in every ocean, from the Caribbean sea to the Bay of Bengal.
“Australian Naval forces had captured German territory, forced the German Asiatic fleet out of the pacific, safely escorted troops across the Indian ocean, chased and sunk raiders, provided support to our troops at Gallipoli, run amok in the sea of Marmara, blockaded enemy ports in the Mediterranean, and Australian sailors had been a part of a daring raid to block the harbour at Zeebrugge,” CAPT Andrew said.
“Importantly for all of us here HMAS Sydney had also launched a sopwith bi-plane from her gun turret during World War One and so started Australian Naval aviation.
“It was a year later before the bulk of the Australian fleet finally returned to Australia. Enroute, the sailors of Sydney had landed in Penang and Singapore to quell riots.
“After arriving back home the ships were quickly sent to show the flag in the former German colonies.
“The hydrographic work of the Navy resumed, patrols were commenced in the Arafura Sea in response to an increased Japanese pearling fleet operating that area and new ships were built and incorporated into the fleet. In short, the business of the Navy continued, and has continued until this present day,” CAPT Andrew said.
“Today as we commemorate the 95th anniversary of the ending of World War One, we pause to remember all those that have died serving their country, and in particular those members of the Fleet Air Arm that have made this sacrifice.”
The Remembrance Day service was attended by Albatross personnel, representatives of key Shoalhaven community and veterans associations as well as a group of high school students who were visiting the base for work experience.
The student supervisor, Petty Officer Chris Vale said the service provided valuable insights for the students.
“I think they got a lot out of it”, said PO Vale.
“They were able to experience a part of the Navy community and culture they might not otherwise have been as exposed to.”
Among the students was Emily Brown of St John the Evangelist High School who said events such as the Remembrance Day service were important to her.
“It’s an opportunity for us to show respect for all those who put their lives on the line to help us.”