ANZAC DAY SIGNICANT MEMORIES by Sandy Freeleagus
This year, two significant milestones are reached: one is the centenary of the beginning of the First World War and the other is the centenary of the Australian submarines in the RAN.In 1914 Australia were the proud possessors of two E Class submarines, HMAS AE1 and HMAS AE2. It is ironic that these two vessels were the only casualties of the RAN in that war.AE1 was lost with all hands on operations in the Bismark Sea around Rabaul (a German colony) in New Guinea. The RAN is still searching for its final resting place.AE2 was sent to the Mediterranean Sea and was the first British submarine (after many failed attempts) to breach the Dardanelles, heavily fortified by Turkish gun emplacements and minefields. She entered the Sea of Marmara and caused havoc until sunk by a Turkish gunboat with the whole crew being captured. However, it was this Australian submarine that paved the way for others to follow and created mayhem in that theatre. (It is also an irony that nearly all the Captains of the following British submarines that operated in the Sea of Marmara received the Victoria Cross, where the pathfinder, the Australian Captain, was ignored).The wreck of AE2 has been found and extensively explored. Discussions are still underway as to whether to raise it or leave it be.The implications of the Great War were not fully realised, where the optimists predicted an early conclusion to a conflict that eventually reaped hundreds of thousands of lives in conditions too extreme to imagine. That acts of supreme courage were commonplace and the small Australian Commonwealth became a predominant military force, revered by friends and foe alike. Australia lost more troops per head of capita than any other country involved in that conflict and achieved feats of military prowess unmatched by any of the other Allies. Its sacrifice was felt in every city, town and village throughout the land. Many young lads went off on a great adventure, many never to return; others to return broken and disillusioned. But the Anzac tradition was cemented in history and served as a solid foundation for future generations to come.Alas, the lessons of that carnage were ignored only to repeat itself some 20 years later – and still it goes on and still our lads and lasses go off to continue that tradition and enhance what their great-grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers built upon. Anzac Day is truly a day to remember, reflect and strive to ensure that this will never happen again.Lest We Forget.