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Remembrance Day 2019

Thursday 7 November, 2019

What does it mean to you?

As Remembrance Day approaches for 2019, staff at Defence SA and Veterans SA reflect on what the day means to them.  As you will read, some are fortunate to have priceless treasures from family members.  The day means different things to different people, however the underlying current is the same.  We Will Remember Them.


Richard, Defence SA Chief Executive: 

“I had a grandfather who served in the First World War and my father served in the Second.  Neither of them spoke of those times, the fear they may have felt and the horrors they may have seen.  On Remembrance Day, I reflect on how their lives and countless others have been shaped by war.”


Chantelle, Veterans SA:

As a civilian, I remembered my great grandfather, trying to imagine how he must have felt as his ship sank and how he survived being a POW during World War 2, I remembered my great grandmother, at home with their children, not knowing if her husband would ever return. 

As a veteran, I think of those who have and those who are still serving, I remember the friends that I have lost, not only those who are no longer here, but those who are no longer the people they were before they wore our Nations uniform, the families of all serving people, past and present and how we are all effected directly or indirectly by war.”


Madison, Defence SA

“Coming from a proud military family, Remembrance Day is always an important day of reflection for us. With both my parents having served in the Australian Army, with my father still serving, and my great grandfather serving in World War II, I take very seriously the opportunity to pay my respect to the sacrifices made by Australian service men and women over the years.”


Justin, Veterans SA

Remembrance Day has always been important to my family as we reflect on the service and sacrifice of my great Uncle Frederick Howard Wheaton from Kangaroo Island who served in Tobruk with the 2nd 8th Field Ambulance during WW2. Howard, as he preferred to be known, was my mother’s uncle and was lost at sea on October 10th 1940 while taking a captured Italian lorry from Tobruk to Crete. The Allied barge on which they were travelling was bombed and sunk by German aircraft and so Howard was lost before my mother was born. I wear his medals every Anzac and Remembrance day to ensure that he is never forgotten and his sacrifice remembered and acknowledged.”


Susie, Defence SA: 

Primary School education during the 50’s (yes, I’m that old!) stressed Remembrance Day as being an important memorial day observed to remember members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

Remembrance Day has always been important to our family, having been brought up with the message that people like our grandfather fought for many years with so many in the armed forces (including many of my Grandfather’s friends and colleagues) losing their lives so that Australia could be a safe place to live and that we must always remember their sacrifice.

My Grandfather Harry Newell was a stretcher bearer in the trenches in France during World War 1 and was a recipient of the military medal.  My mother was born a few months after he left for overseas and was nearly four when he returned home.

Below is a photo of my grandfather Harry on a postcard he sent to my Grandmother (Lucy) and Mother (Edna) in 1917.


Nikki, Defence SA:

It is a time to acknowledge and reflect upon the sacrifices made by Australian troops in the line of duty.”


Clare, Veterans SA:

Remembrance Day for me provides a moment to reflect on the impact of war on my parents and their families. My mother was 19 when her older brother took off on a training flight from 6 Service Flying Training School at Mallala on 14 July 1943.  An aerial search for the missing aircraft discovered traces of wreckage on a beach near Parham on the eastern side of St Vincent’s Gulf. All five crew members were reported missing and eventually presumed dead. James Horrigan was 28 years old and left behind his wife and two year old son. This was one of at least 31 military aircraft crashes in South Australia during WWII.


Bec, Veterans SA:

“Each Remembrance Day, I think about my dear Grandpa, Bill Hissey, who served in World War Two.  I think about how brave he was to enlist to serve his country and to travel to lands so far away from home, never knowing if he would return home.  I think about his family and my Grandma back home and how the constant fear of receiving the worst news would impact the ability to enjoy each day.  They were from a country town in Cowell, South Australia so news of fathers, sons, brothers ad friends who had been killed overseas impacted the whole community.  I am grateful that he made it safely home, but I know that many of his comrades didn’t and that the experience was incredibly difficult for him to speak about later in his life.  This year I will be thinking of Grandpa and his mates and the sacrifices they made so that my family and I can enjoy the Australia we live in today.”


Paul, Veterans SA

My family has a tradition of placing a poppy on the cross set out for Lance Corporal Ronald McPherson in the RSL Field of Remembrance on North Terrace in the lead up to Remembrance Day.  Ronald is my wife’s late Great Uncle who was Killed in Action at El Alamein on 17 July 1942 aged 27 while serving with the 2nd/43rd Australian Infantry Battalion.  The grief of losing her younger brother stayed with my wife’s grandmother for the rest of her life.  Ronald’s picture was beside her when she passed away aged 102 and Grandma often mentioned how much she missed him. 

From the Boer War to the present day more than 102,000 Australians who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the way of life we are so fortunate to enjoy today have left a hole in the lives of the families from which they came. Their families and local communities will never forget, nor do we collectively ever forget this loss.

The way we remember them is part of what it means to be an Australian.


Reg, Defence SA:

Having left defence full time three years ago, I find the importance of Remembrance Day increasing each year. In 35 years of Service I lost friends through training accidents and operational deployments and I find that this provides a meaningful context for the same personal pain and loss that families, friends and mates have felt through all theatres of war for all time. I particularly remember Sapper Jamie Larcombe, a young soldier from Kangaroo Island who was killed in Afghanistan, I was base commander when his body was repatriated to RAAF Edinburgh. Meeting his family and participating in the ceremony was emotional and meaningful and I still think of him and his family every Remembrance Day as it is now personal for me.”


Caroline, Defence SA:

“I wanted to share a few pages from my grandfather’s autograph book from WW1 when he was stationed in Rouen, France.

We have only recently discovered this wonderful treasure, so this Remembrance Day as I read through the pages of his book, I will be thinking about each and every person who carefully wrote poems, drew pictures and left a little piece of themselves in this tatty old autograph book. It’s a gem and I feel so very privileged to have it in my possession.”

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