Anzac Day in Antarctica

Casey research station expeditioners gather in front of the flag poles for Anzac Day service
Casey research station expeditioners gather in front of the flag poles for Anzac Day service (Photo: George Brettingham-Moore)
Casey Station Leader, Commander Rebecca Jeffcoat, leads the dawn serviceA moment of quiet reflection for expeditioners at Casey research station on Anzac Day

A veteran Defence Force Naval Officer has led Australia’s southern-most Anzac Day dawn service at Casey research station in Antarctica.

Rebecca Jeffcoat has been with the Royal Australian Navy for 28 years and is now spending a year on the ice as Australia’s Casey Station Leader.

Commander Jeffcoat said it was inspiring to be part of a unique Antarctic commemoration.

“Anzac Day is a special time to reflect on the contribution made by past and present service personnel, and the sacrifice these people have made in serving their country,” Cmdr Jeffcoat said.

“I’ve been to many Anzac Day events over the years and today’s service, held against a backdrop of icebergs in Newcomb Bay, is one I will never forget.”

The team of 26 expeditioners spending the winter at Casey, gathered at the station flag-pole just before dawn.

“We lowered the Australian flag to half-mast, listened to several readings and held the traditional two minutes of silence.

“The service was especially poignant as expeditioners took the opportunity to proudly share their family member’s service experience; in the Boer War, lost at sea in World War II and in Afghanistan,” she said.

Everyone was rugged-up against the cold with temperatures at Casey hovering around minus 15 degrees Celsius.

“As we dig in for a long winter, we can imagine some of the challenges our Defence men and women face when deployed to far-off and often hostile places, away from their families, in service of their country.”

The dawn service was followed by a gun-fire breakfast, games of two-up and watching a live stream of the Anzac Day AFL match

Rebecca Jeffcoat has been an Officer in the Royal Australian Navy since 1990. She has been deployed to the Middle East and worked as Commanding Officer of HMAS Kuttabul at Garden Island in Sydney.

Most recently she was Deputy Chief of Staff to the Chief of the Defence Force.

The Australian Antarctic Program has a long association with the Australian Defence Force, which provides support through Operation Southern Discovery.

Anzac Day Casey research station 2018

Video transcript

Casey Station Leader - Commander Rebecca Jeffcoat

On the 25th of April Australians and New Zealanders mark Anzac Day the anniversary of the 1915 landing of British-led troops at Gallipoli.

It's very special to me to be commemorating Anzac Day in Antarctica.

There's a great tradition of Antarctic explorers who have served in Defence Forces in times of conflict including Mawson and Wilkins and Hurley, and we'll remember those men today.

And in turn the qualities of Anzacs who served and who we remember today such as teamwork and mateship, courage, self-sacrifice and self-discipline.

They are all qualities that I see in the expeditioners who are with me in Antarctica at the moment and it's a great honour to be spending Anzac Day with those Australians and New Zealanders so far from home.

[end transcript]