Anzac Day in Port Melbourne 2023
It was warm, almost too warm for the time of year, as crowds gathered for the annual Anzac commemoration service. Beach St was closed to traffic. The crowd stretched from Nott St to Bay St and from the Beach St footpath to the blue stone wall.
The scene was set with the wooden crosses placed in careful formation by Ken Jackson, son of Korean War veteran, Geoff Jackson.
Dale Allchin was the MC, guiding proceedings with a firm hand. He continues the community organising role played by Bunna Walsh, Perce White and others who have passed away in recent years.
MHR Josh Burns acknowledged the first Australians who served in both World Wars whose service has only belatedly been recognised. He spoke of the discovery of the wreck of the Montivideo Maru on 18 April. The Japanese ship was sunk by the submarine USS Sturgeon unaware that there were Australian Prisoners of War on board. 1,054 Australians drowned. The discovery of the wreck brings closure and fresh sadness to the families involved. He affirmed Australia’s support for Ukraine ‘financially, morally and militarily’.
State member for Albert Park, Nina Taylor, and Mayor Heather Cunsolo drew on Port Melbourne stories in their addresses.
Nina Taylor highlighted the story of William Drysdale, the first Port Melbourne casualty in the First World War. Drysdale served in the Ambulance Corps. Perhaps because he was the first casualty, the account in the Standard is detailed and heartfelt. He was a ‘a young man of splendid qualities’ and the ‘crushing bereavement’ was felt by all who knew him. Drysdale was a driver with Swallow and Ariell and had received cadet training.
Distinguished guest speaker Colonel Sharon Coates CSC spoke of the number of under age men, boys actually, who signed up, often without their parents consent. She is closely involved with cadet training where she works with young men of a similar age.
She concluded that Anzac Day is not about the glorification of war, but a time to bring to light and to the surface individual stories of suffering and valour and to remember them.
Wreaths were laid.
President Sue Leong and Johnny May laid the red and blue wreath on behalf of the Society. Cllr Marcus Pearl’s daughter joined Mayor Heather Cunsolo in laying the City of Port Phillip’s wreath accompanied by Councillors Andrew Bond, Christina Sirakoff and Marcus Pearl. Families with connections to people who had served added floral tributes. The children of Ada Mary a Beckett Kindergarten had prepared a tribute, and the Port Melbourne Scouts made their own wreath.
The service evolves. Community groups were strongly represented including the Port Melbourne Colts, the Port Melbourne Life Saving Club and the Port Melbourne Scouts.
A piper played Amazing Grace.
The City of Port Phillip took exemplary care of all the arrangements. After catching up with friends, the crowd dispersed.
HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Sydney were present in the background, berthed at Station Pier.
1915 ‘HOW PRIVATE DRYSDALE FELL.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 9 October, p. 1, viewed 26 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91165685
More about the ships at Station Pier
HMAS Adelaide is an Amphibious Assault Ship also known as Landing Helicopter Docks. (LHD). It is one of the largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Consolidation of the superstructure and installation of the Combat and Communications Systems was undertaken at BAE Systems shipyard in Williamstown. The ships are designed with the shallowest possible draft to enable them to operate in shallow ports and waters.
HMAS Sydney (V) is one of three of the Hobart Class guided missile destroyers. It is the fifth ship of the Royal Australian Navy to carry the name Sydney. The keel of Sydney (V) was symbolically laid down on 19 November 2015, on the anniversary of HMAS Sydney (II)’s sinking in November 1941.
Royal Australian Navy HMAS Adelaide
Royal Australian Navy HMAS Sydney