During their five month NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015 deployment, the crew of HMAS Anzac participated in more than a dozen commemorations, paying respects to members of the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Defence Force who died in the past century.
Anzac’s Commanding Officer, Commander Belinda Wood, highlighted the special role of the commemorative aspects of the deployment.
“This was a special deployment for Anzac and her crew, with several core goals including international engagement and building interoperability with the navies and armed forces of the various nations we visited.
“During the Centenary of Anzac period, however, none of our roles was more important than that of paying respects to those sailors and officers of the Royal Australian Navy who have gone to sea and never returned home.
“Whilst the HMAS AE2 commemoration in the Sea of Marmara, the Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli and D-Day services in Normandy, were the highest profile of our commemorative activities, we were just as proud to commemorate Australian personnel who were buried in smaller cemeteries in Italy, Malta, South Africa and Mauritius,” Commander Wood said.
Each of the commemorative events differed in their style and audience, including a large scale service onboard Anzac for the AE2 , hosted by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, a dawn sail-past of Anzac Cove on Anzac Day and the multinational D-Day service at the Bayeaux Cathedral in Normandy, contrasting with the smaller grave-side services in various Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries.
Royal Australian Navy members commemorated at the various events included:
- Commander William Warren, DSO, RAN, HMAS Parramatta. Died 1918 and is buried at Bari War Cemetery, Italy.
- Sub Lieutenant Bruce Ashton, RANVR. Died 6 June 1944 and is buried at Bayeaux War Cemetery.
- Sub Lieutenant Richard Pirrie, RANVR, HMS Invicta. Died 6 June 1944 and is buried at Bayeaux War Cemetery.
- Warrant Shipwright Patrick Murphy, BEM, HMAS Shropshire. Died 1943 and is buried at Simon’s Town (Dido Valley) Naval Cemetery, South Africa.
- Chief Engine Room Artificer Albert Wilson, HMAS Huon. Died 1918 and is buried at Bari War Cemetery, Italy.
- Chief Stoker Charles Varcoe, HMAS AE2. Died as a Prisoner Of War during the First World War.
- Petty Officer Stoker James Dwyer, HMAS Brisbane. Died 1917 and is buried at Cappuccini Naval Cemetery, Malta.
- Petty Officer Stephen Gilbert, HMAS AE2. Died as a Prisoner Of War during the First World War.
- Able Seaman Rex Blake, HMAS Quiberon. Died 1943 and is buried at Simon’s Town (Dido Valley) Naval Cemetery, South Africa.
- Able Seaman Albert Knaggs, HMAS AE2. Died as a Prisoner Of War during the First World War.
- Stoker Thomas Eastabrook, HMAS Brisbane. Died 1917 and is buried at Cappuccini Naval Cemetery, Malta.
- Bandsman Arnold Partington, HMAS Canberra. Died 1941 and is buried at the Phoenix Cemetery, Mauritius.
- Telegraphist Kevin Quinn, HMAS Norman. Died 1943 and is buried at Simon’s Town (Dido Valley) Naval Cemetery, South Africa.
- Stoker Michael Williams, HMAS AE2. Died as a Prisoner Of War during the First World War.
Led by Leading Seaman Musician Bruce McIntyre, Anzac’s embarked detachment from the Royal Australian Navy Band proved its versatility in delivering a range of musical performances to support the various commemorate events.
“Able Seaman Kirsten Hobbs’ performances of the Australian and Turkish national anthems during Anzac Day services and Able Seaman Racheal Byrnes’ rendition of the Last Post and Reveille at Bayeaux will undoubtedly be career highlights for these musicians.
“For our small contingent, perhaps the service at the Phoenix War Cemetery in Mauritius will be the most memorable, as we commemorated a Navy musician, Bandsman AP Partington, who died there during the Second World War.
“Like two of our members – Able Seamen Tom Brooke and Blair Reardon, Bandsman Partington was from Tasmania, so we chose an appropriate hymn written by a Tasmanian composer, which we played at the commemorative event together with the Police Band of Mauritius,” Leading Seaman McIntyre said.
The service for Bandsman Partington was particularly special as the Australian High Commissioner in Mauritius, Her Excellency Ms Susan Coles, arranged for Bandsman Partington’s closest surviving relative, Ms Jenni Chinner, to fly to Mauritius for the service.
“Arnold Partington was my uncle, and was one of three brothers who joined the Navy as Bandsmen and served during the Second World War.
“My uncle Leslie was lost when HMAS Sydney was sunk in battle with the German ship Kormoran off Western Australia in 1941, and my father Percival was in HMAS Perth when it was sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942.
“Fortunately my father survived, serving as a Prisoner of War on the Thai-Burma Railway before returning to Australia at the conclusion of the war.
“I am thankful to the Australian High Commissioner in Mauritius, and HMAS Anzac for conducting a solemn and heartfelt commemoration for my uncle, Arnold,” Ms Chinner said.
It is tradition for Australian warships entering Sydney Harbour to salute the memorial of HMAS Sydney (I) at Bradley’s Head, paying respect to those Australian Navy members who have gone to sea and not returned.
“In Anzac’s case, the salute to Sydney was marked by Able Seaman Byrnes sounding the alert on bugle to bring the ship’s company to ‘the ho’ (attention).
“This was an especially fitting conclusion to the commemorative aspect of NORTHERN TRIDENT 2015, and made it all the more special that a short time later we were able to greet our family and friends waiting on the wharf at Fleet Base East,” Commander Wood said.
Anzac successfully concluded her NORTHERN TRIDENT mission commemorating the Centenary of Anzac, building interoperability with allies and strengthening Australian links to international communities.