In November 2020, during the middle of a Pandemic, I wrote about a musical tribute to our servicemen and women in the form of a CD called Spirit Of The ANZACS. Country singer, Lee Kernaghan, along with other Australian singer/songwriters Garth Porter and Colin Buchanan, were given access to the diaries, letters and stories of Australian and New Zealand diggers held by the Australian War Memorial as a project for the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. These letters covered 100 years of ANZAC history from the First World War right through to Afghanistan. Many of the lines in the songs on this CD have been directly lifted from these letters, many written on the battlefield.
The song I included in that post was titled I Will Always Be With You from a letter written by Private Benjamin Chuck, 2 Commando Regiment, who lost his life in 2010 in the mountains of Kandahar Province in a chopper accident during his third tour of Afghanistan.
It’s been a year for serendipitous events.
Earlier this year I attended a social function commemorating Australian servicemen and women. There were several interesting stories including that of Hilda Rix, artist. Google her -it’s a fascinating tale. Another story was that of a father from Far North Queensland who lost his son in Afghanistan and who fund raised and worked his tail off to create The Avenue of Honour at Yungaburra on Lake Tinaroo.
The Avenue with its 250 m of sand coloured path representing the barren Afghanistan landscape, twin rows of Illawarra Flame Trees and Central Monument symbolizes ‘the final journey home’ of the Fallen. It comprises 3 main elements:
– The entrance and pathway to the Central monument
– The Monument and The Honour Board
– The journey home leading from the Memorial
A plaque representing each one of the 42 fallen soldiers (40 killed in action plus one training casualty and one non-combat related death) from the Afghanistan Campaign is present on the Honour Board adjacent to the Memorial. The centrepiece of the Memorial is a cairn of stones sourced from Afghanistan surmounted by a pair of sculptured wings in full flight depicting the contributions made by all services and symbolizing the undaunted spirit of the Australian Digger. The Avenue has all night lighting with the Honour Board and Monument bathed in blue light.
A series of plaques distributed throughout the Avenue feature service commendations from Military Commanders, Five VC Award Recipients, references to major engagements fought, the role of Explosive Detection Dogs, and literary contributions from community members.
The entrepreneurial gentleman was Gordon Chuck, father of young Benjamin Chuck.
In April at my local Dawn Service in Cleveland, thousands stood in the cold and the rain to honour those who had served. This year the names of the fallen from recent theatres of war were announced over the loud speakers with nominated persons depositing a wreath by the cenotaph. It was a moving service with many shedding a silent tear. And Benjamin Chuck’s name was amongst those called.
I’ve started packing for a road trip. Shouldn’t. The financial advisor will spit chips but you know what ? You’re a long time dead.
One of my stops will be The Avenue Of Honour at Yungaburra, Far North Queensland.