Anzac Day Address – Alistair McNee

The Brisbane Golf Club held its fourth Anzac Day Ceremony on Wednesday, 25 April 2018 with over 100 Members in attendance. BGC Member and Vice-Captain, Alistair McNee addressed the ceremony and his speech has been posted below for all to enjoy.

I would like to welcome everyone to The Brisbane Golf Club this morning.

2018 marks the final year of the ANZAC Centenary. Today, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux and the 103rd anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

Time dims the memory of ordinary events, but not great events.

In a nation’s history, great events – whether in peace or war – live in our memories regardless of time.

They are deemed great not necessarily for what they achieved, nor whether they were victories or successes.

Rather, great events are distinguished by the quality of the human endeavor they called upon, by the examples they create for ordinary men and women, and by the legends they inspire.

So it is with ANZAC Day.

On the 25th of April 1915, some 16,000 New Zealanders and Australian surged ashore at the foot of rugged cliffs on the Dardanelles Peninsula in Turkey. to open a campaign intended to give allied shipping access to the Black Sea, bring help to Russia and perhaps force Turkey out of the war.

It was – historians say – an ill-conceived campaign in pursuit of a vague objective, which under-estimation the military prowess and character of the Turkish soldiers, and of the tactical advantages they held.

But the cream of the New Zealand and Australian Armies – volunteers all – committed themselves with no hesitation about the nobility of their cause, and fought with great courage, skill and audacity.

In the eight months that followed their first landing, some 50,000 ANZACs were committed to the battlefront.

When the last of them was withdrawn as winter set in, about 11,000 ANZACs lay dead, and with them many more allied and Turkish soldiers.

While the ANZAC’s withdrawal from Gallipoli was brilliantly planned and executed the campaign can not be described as anything but a defeat.

However, the achievements of the ANZACs can be measured in other than strategy, tactics and battles.

Their true achievements were in their courage, determination, mateship and sacrifice. These were achievements that set standards that inspired their countrymen for generations to follow.

For Australians & New Zealanders, ANZAC is our own day.

It is a day that we mark the deeds of men and women who had come to see themselves as Australians & New Zealanders, and who were mourned by people who regarded themselves as Australians & New Zealanders.

The names on public memorials existing in virtually all our towns and cities are important and regular reminders of the losses our nations felt in those darker days.

These Memorials on Australia’s highways & byways, reveal the devastation to lineages of entire extended families – fathers, sons, cousins, nephews & uncles, forever etched in cold stone.

The Brisbane Golf Club’s honour roll has 43 such names, three of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Men like Raymond Ferres(Ferrras/Ferriers) Shirley. Born on October 17 1892, Raymond attended Brisbane Grammar where he passed the Solicitors Preliminary Examination in 1909 & gained employment as an articled Clerk with Morris & Fletcher Solicitors.

At 5 foot 10 ½, weighing 155lbs, with grey eyes, fair hair, Raymond Shirley was 21 years and 10 months when he became the first Articled clerk in Brisbane to apply for suspension of articles so that he may enlist. On August 25, 1914 he was “considered fit for active service” & received the Service Number of 199.

On September the 24th, 1914 he embarked at Brisbane for Egypt with the 9th Battlalion on HMAT “Omrah”.

103 years ago today, on the morning of April 25, the 9th Battalion were in the first wave to land at Gallipoli.

Raymond Shirley was in the second boat to land troops. He was observed to be wounded at Gaba Tepe & seen being removed to the beach by two stretcher bearers.

From July 1915, letters seeking information of his whereabouts were sent by Raymond’s sister Edith & his mother Emily.

Raymond’s father John, sent letters to his brother-in-law T.B. “Tommy” Hunter (namesake to the Queensland Open Golf Trophy & Club Secretary for 29 years) In his role as a solicitor Tommy sent formal requests to the Federal Parliament & the Senate on behalf of the family.

Nine months after the landing in January 1916, Club Member George Addison (who enlisted with Raymond receiving Service number 200 & who was also wounded on April 25) confirmed that Raymond “never reported after the first landing”

Like so many others on that day, Raymond never came home.

He has no known grave.

He is commemorated with 4,983 others at the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli, on Panel 57 at the Australian War Memorial & on our Roll of Honour.

It is for the memory of men like Raymond Shirley that we are gathered here today.

The ANZACs indeed command and deserve the respect and remembrance of present and future generations of all Australians & New Zealanders, regardless of race, colour or creed. On every 25th of April, Australians & New Zealanders at home and abroad gathered commemorate not just those ANZACs who died on that day, but
all current and former men and women of our Defence Force.

We remember on this day those who fell in both World Wars, in conflicts in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam, and more recently in Afghanistan.

Duty, patriotism, individual sacrifice, and the affirmation of the New Zealanders and Australian relationship are the enduring legacies of Gallipoli and all subsequent conflicts involving our two nations.

The men and women who forged the ANZAC spirit made sure that those who led them earned their respect.

They all understood the values of independence, freedom and fairness and – above all – possessed a willingness to defend these things if need be.

Because freedom only survives as long as people are willing to defend it.

That is the spirit ANZAC handed down to us. If we lose that ANZAC spirit, we lose all.

So here we stand today, along with thousands of others throughout Australia to honour great men and women with rosemary, poppies & olive branches

We gather, as we shall always gather, not to glorify war, but to remind ourselves that we value who we are and the freedoms we possess, and to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who contributed so much in shaping the identity of this proud nation, and those that continue to serve.

Lest we forget.