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Think Piece – Legacy in the Centenary of ANZAC

Thursday 14 January, 2016

???????????????????????????????2016 represents one hundred years from two most significant and bloody battles involving the Australian Imperial Force. The Battle of Fromelles (19 July) and the Battle for Pozieres (23-29 July) will be commemorated later this year.  It is possible that the uniquely Australian organisation that is Legacy arose indirectly out of those terrible conflicts.

Although there were 8,000 Australian casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign, the Battle at Fromelles resulted in over 5,000 (killed, wounded or captured) in one day. The First Australian Division lost over 5,000 at Pozieres, and the Second and Fourth Divisions had similar casualty rates.

There is a bronze statue by Peter Corlett at Fromelles named “Cobbers”. It depicts the rescue of an Australian by a mate, and recalls a cry from ‘no man’s land’ – “don’t forget me cobber”. A similar quote “never worry my friend, I will look after your family” has been recalled from the Battle of Pozieres. The sacrificial service for one’s mates and their families is the Spirit of Legacy, whose Charter emphasises the care of children. The Torch, a metaphor for service, is Legacy’s symbol, and those who inherit the legacy of that torch are called Legatees.

Legatees from World War 1 have passed long ago. With the funeral this week of Lloyd Wiggins, DSO, DFC and Bar, the Adelaide Legacy Club has lost another of its World War 2 Legatees. Lloyd was President of Adelaide Legacy in 1962. Those who succeeded Lloyd for the next 20 years have all died. The next most long standing Past President, still a Legatee, is Bob Cowper OAM, DSO and Bar, and LdeH. Adelaide Legacy lost another 23 of our World War 2 stalwarts in 2015.

Legacy no longer requires its members to have served in the Australian Defence Force.  Legatees now include former Legacy Wards, wives, and even widows.  Helen Adamson, SA President of the War Widows’ Guild, is one of our Legatees:  her “Think Piece” was published recently. They are particularly welcome, as the predominant group of Legacy beneficiaries are World War 2 widows, with an average age of nearly 90 years.

Only a decade ago Legacy required a World War 2 member on each Committee. We no longer do, but the few remaining are highly valued. Younger Legatees include ex-service men and women from subsequent conflicts and particularly Vietnam; but the work of Legacy will continue as those dying from or suffering from most recent conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan are identified, and their families require support.

Robert Black AM RFD, is a retired Senior Visiting Surgeon at RGH Daw Park and a former serving Officer in the RAAF Specialist Reserve.  He is currently President of the Air Force Association, Mitcham Branch, and is a Past President of the Legacy Club of Adelaide. He has also served on Advisory Councils for Federal and State Ministers for Veterans’ Affairs, and was a Services Member of the Veterans’ Review Board for nine years.

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