8 Wing Trenton participates in Anzac Day ceremony
By Makala Chapman
The sacrifices made by members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the First World War continued to be remembered, more than a century later.
In addition to Remembrance Day, Anzac Day is a time for the people of Australia and New Zealand to remember the sacrifices made by veterans and current serving military members.
Commemorated each year on April 25, the day also pays tribute to the more than 8000 Australians and 2700 New Zealanders killed during the invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 during the First World War.
To pay their respects on Anzac Day, a modest crowd gathered at St. George’s Cemetery in Trenton, Ontario, despite grey skies and sprinkles of rain. The momentous occasion was one of the first of its kind in the area, noted event organizer Chris Charland, a senior associate Air Force historian located at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario.
“This started out just an idea and has blossomed into something special,” he explained. “I love both Australia and New Zealand and have always been impressed by their spirit and devotion to duty.” Being honoured for their service posthumously were Flight Lieutenant Dudley Tabor Everett and Pilot Officer Alexander Robert Ross—both Second World War members of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Mr. Charland explained that the two men had been killed in separate flying accidents during their time posted at 8 Wing Trenton—then known as RCAF Station Trenton—and laid to rest in St. George’s Cemetery. “These airmen are a long way from home,” he noted. “I don’t think anybody has really paid any tribute to them other than when they first had their funerals, so here we are.”
Flight Lieutenant Mark Anderson of the Royal Australian Air Force and Corporal Hayley Pitman of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, who are both military exchange members at 8 Wing Trenton, were in attendance.
“I’m very proud to be here,” said Corporal Pitman. “I didn’t realize there would be (commemoration) here and thought I was going to be missing out on Anzac Day.”
She went onto add that the memorial had been touching and hoped to one day have the opportunity to pay her respects to Canada’s fallen at a Remembrance Day ceremony.
As for why she chooses to observe Anzac Day each year, Corporal Pitman said it came down to wanting to honour her own family’s sacrifices during the war and to show her gratitude.
Flight Lieutenant Anderson’s grandfather served at Gallipoli during the First World War.
“The fact that I’ve been able to commemorate in another nation has meant a lot to me and my family,” he said. “It’s important to remember what’s happened in the past so you can look towards the future. Never forget what people have sacrificed to allow you to do what you do.”
He noted that Anzac Day traditions in Australia include participating in a march organized by the military, as well as attending a memorial service held at dawn.
As for next year’s Anzac Day, Mr. Charland said he hopes to return to St. George’s Cemetery for an even bigger ceremony.
Makala Chapman is the editor of The Contact, 8 Wing’s base newspaper, where this article was originally published.
Anzac Day and Gallipoli
Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the First World War.
In 1915, ANZAC forces were part of an expedition to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the Dardanelles to allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which was an ally of Germany.
ANZAC forces landed on Gallipoli on April 25, meeting fierce resistance from the defenders. The engagement quickly turned into a stalemate and dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, allied forces were forced to evacuate after sustaining heavy casualties; more than 8000 Australian soldiers and nearly 3000 New Zealand soldiers died.
Canadians did not participate in the Gallipoli campaign, but soldiers from Newfoundland—which was not yet part of Canada—were deployed. According to the “Heritage Newfoundland” website, 44 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment lost their lives and hundreds more were wounded or became ill.
Anzac Day is marked by commemorative services, often at dawn (the time of the original landing) and marches later in the day. Over the years, the day became a time to remember all those who fought and lost their lives in defence of their nations.
Adapted from content on the Australian War Memorial website.
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