On 25th April 1915, 16,000 New Zealand and Australian soldiers surged ashore at the foot of rugged cliffs on the Dardanelles Peninsula, Turkey. These Anzacs were part of a WW1 campaign intended to force Turkey out of the war. In the months which followed the first landing, some 50,000 Anzacs had been committed to the battlefront. When the campaign was withdrawn eight months later, some 11,000 New Zealanders and Australians lay dead - and with them many more allied and Turkish soldiers.
This week, Casey station gathered for a dawn service to remember those soldiers who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula and created the legend of the Anzac spirit. Unfortunately, high winds coupled with a blizzard and white-out conditions prohibited an outside service next to the flagpoles. Nevertheless, we improvised by holding the commemoration in the Red Shed’s wallow. It was a poignant opportunity for quiet reflection on how lucky we are – and to appreciate the friendship and camaraderie we share on station.
We started with a ‘gunfire breakfast’ of coffee (with ‘extra strong’ beans) and Anzac Day cookies, prior to undertaking the service. Once the Anzac Day address, Ode to the Fallen and readings were delivered, national anthems sung and last respects paid, we convened for egg and bacon rolls – with some then engaging in a game of Two-up. The movie Gallipoli followed as did an indoors BBQ (again courtesy of Casey’s abominable weather). Throughout the day our community members shared individual Anzac Day-related experiences and family recollections, with one special story being told by mechanic Lachlan Sturgess.
Mervyn Henry Sturgess was Lachlan’s grandfather’s uncle from Chinchilla, QLD. At the age of 16 and with his father’s permission, Mervyn lied about his age and changed his name to 'Murdyn' to enlist in the Army alongside his brother Cecil. On the 29th April 1918, in the fields between Albert and Amiens (Northern France), Mervyn was killed in action - being crushed inside a collapsed trench. Mervyn was pulled from the rubble and died in Cecil’s arms.
To respect this occasion, Lachlan was able to reveal a plaque (commonly referred to as the ‘biscuit’) that was bestowed on families of fallen soldiers. As Lachlan stated, “I am honoured to bring this biscuit and a portrait of Mervyn down to Antarctica and pay my respects a little differently to past years.” This complemented another opportunity from a few years ago, where Lachlan was able to travel to Europe and locate Mervyn’s gravestone at Dernancourt Cemetery. “I was fortunate enough to pay my respects in person, to one of our family’s war heroes.”
Lest We Forget
-Dave Buller (Station Leader)