Albatross Chaplain tells grandfather’s WWI story at Remembrance Service

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross, Remembrance Day

Chaplain Stephen Estherby conducts the Remembrance Day service for HMAS Albatross personnel and students from Nowra Anglican College, at the HMAS Albatross Chapel. (photo: )
Chaplain Stephen Estherby conducts the Remembrance Day service for HMAS Albatross personnel and students from Nowra Anglican College, at the HMAS Albatross Chapel.

One hundred students from Nowra Anglican College attended the annual Remembrance Day service at the HMAS Albatross chapel this year.

Chaplain Stephen Estherby conducted the service. Using film archives, music and some restored footage, he invited the students and Albatross personnel attending to step back in time and gain an understanding of the context of memorial services and why they have been so important to past generations. 

“Remembrance Day is an important opportunity to stop and think about the huge human and material cost of war.

“To remember the fact that people were prepared to pay the price for the liberty and freedom we enjoy.

“It’s important to encourage every generation to defend what we hold dear and in defence of others.

“Australia has a proud history of such service,” Chaplain Estherby said.

Chaplain Stephen Estherby with the Active Service Gospel which belonged to his grandfather William Hoare in WWI.

Chaplain Stephen Estherby with the Active Service Gospel which belonged to his grandfather William Hoare in WWI.

During the service, Chaplain Estherby also showed the students a very personal link to the past: a small brown, battered and ink stained booklet – an Active Service Gospel which belonged to his grandfather, William Hoare.

The Testament was one of 24 million presented to soldiers, sailors and airmen during the First World War.

Designed to be carried in the front pocket of the uniform, the Testament contains a message from Lord Roberts, which reads:

“I ask you to put your trust in God. He will watch you and strengthen you. You will find in this little book guidance when you are in health, comfort when you are in sickness and strength when you are in adversity.”

The Testament was one of the few possessions the Estherby family brought with them when they migrated from England to Australia in 1996.

For many years, it was kept in a tin amongst Chaplain Estherby’s boyhood treasures, which in addition to the bible included an Apollo 11 badge, baby teeth and his St John’s Ambulance badge.

“I valued the book primarily as a memory of my grandfather. He was quite a character.

“He never spoke about his war experiences, although he did show me what he said was a battle wound once, which I discovered later was actually the result of him accidentally sitting on a beer glass.

“The fact that he carried this book with him on the Western Front and bought it home with him means it was obviously very meaningful for him.

“It wasn’t until I found my faith that I fully appreciated the value of this small book.

“It was given to bring hope and comfort.

“As a Chaplain, I try to bring hope and comfort.

“The book is a tangible link for me with my grandfather and his generation - a source of inspiration in the present and my hope for the future.

“God’s word still speaks,” Chaplain Estherby said.

He presented each of the students attending the service with a replica of the Testament.

“I hope they left knowing how vital it is to remember the past,” he said.

“There are important lessons to learn and we should learn from both the good and the bad and this will help you find a better way.

“Even if everyone else forgets you, God never will,” Chaplain Estherby said.