Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 25, 2011

Monday, 25th April, 2011 – ANZAC DAY 2011

It was both Easter Monday, and ANZAC Day, this Monday, and if my memory serves me right, also a birthday [22nd] of a nephew – I recall he was born on Anzac Day 1989. I was up in Canberra at the time, part of a four week ‘management’ course, and that morning, we visited the Australian War Memorial to attend the Anzac Dawn Service – the first of only two such services I’ve managed to get to, the second some years later, at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. Despite the reluctance [or is it lazyness] to actually get up on this morning to even our ‘local’ Mt Macedon dawn service, I do make a point each year [as with morning] of waking early in order to listen to the ABC broadcasts of firstly, the Dawn Service from Canberra [5.30am] and then the brief 6am service from here in Melbourne. As that time this morning, my thoughts went to brother Ian – retired from the Australian Army for a few years now, and having just gone through a few personal difficulties –  wondered whether he was participating in equivalent events up there in Brisbane this morning. I knew he would be glued to a TV this afternoon [probably in his local pub] watching his beloved Collingwood football team play against in the now annual Anzac Day match at the MCG!!

For readers who have not seen my Anzac Day blogs of recent years, a brief reminder of the occasion, with the aid of some general notes on Anzac Day.

ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is the anniversary of the landing of troops from Australia and New Zealand on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, in World War I on April 25, 1915. The bravery of all military personnel who participated in this campaign and the lives of those who died in all military actions, in which Australians have been involved, both prior to Gallipoli, and subsequently, are remembered. In 1916, the first anniversary of the landing was observed in Australia, New Zealand and England and by troops in Egypt. That year, 25 April was officially named ‘Anzac Day. The Dawn Service observed on Anzac Day has its origins in an operational routine which is still observed by the Australian Army today.The 1st official dawn service was held in 1927.  The marches, etc, are not a glorification of war itself, but of the sacrifices that have been made in those various conflicts, and the men & women who participated, and  to honour the more than 110,000 Australians

Many ceremonies, parades and other activities are held on ANZAC Day to remember the lives of those who participated or died in military action, particularly on the Gallipoli Peninsula in World War I. Dawn prayer or church services are a particularly important aspect of ANZAC Day. These represent the comradeship that the soldiers experienced as they rose each morning to prepare for another day of military action. After the services, gunfire breakfast (coffee with rum in it) is often served. In major cities and many smaller towns, parades, marches and reunions of current and past military personnel and memorial services are held. The fourth stanza or verse of a well known poem, known as The Ode, is read aloud at many ceremonies. The poem is called “For The Fallen” and was written by Laurence Binyon in 1914. It commemorates those who died and can never grow old. After the formal events, many people play games of “two-up”. This is a gambling game played using two coins. This form of gambling is usually illegal in many Australian states. However, the authorities usually turn a blind eye to it on ANZAC Day.As background to Gallipoli, one on site ‘historian’ has described it in this fashion

 “In the early months of 1915, World War I was raging in most of Europe, including the Ottoman empire in the geographical area that is now Turkey. Russian troops were fighting on many fronts, particularly against troops from Germany and the Ottoman and Austro -Hungarian empires. At dawn on April 25, 1915, forces from France, Great Britain and the British Empire, including Australia and New Zealand, landed at a number of places on the Gallipoli peninsula. The campaign aimed to open up new fronts for the Allied forces and a trade route to Russia. In the ensuing battle, many lives were lost on both sides and the Allied forces did not succeed in opening a trade route to Russia. The last ANZAC forces withdrew from the Gallipoli Peninsula by December 20, 1915, in a successful operation with very few casualties. In spite of their losses, the ANZAC servicemen and many Australians and New Zealanders saw this battle as the start of the ANZAC spirit. This is an Australasian ideal based on the “mateship” and cheerful suffering the forces showed during this campaign  ANZAC Day is also a public holiday and day of remembrance in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga. It is also commemorated with special services and events on or around April 25 in a range of countries across the globe. These include: the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Canada and the United States (including Hawaii).

Sunbury itself of course, has it’s own Anzac Ceremony, at the local War Memorial, here on the Village Grren, after a brief march of veterans through the town. I usually attend that ceremony, but decided that, as with my weekend ‘intention’ of relaxing at home as much as I could, would give it a miss this year. The bonus, in watching the TV coverage of the Melbourne march, was to note one of the divisions under which my father served during World War II – the 2nd/5th Field Ambulance of the Australian Army. I think there are only a small number of veterans left these days, and I’ve noticed that over the past year or so, I’ve not been receiving any material from ‘reunion’ group associated with that division. Must follow that up. A dawn service is also held up at the top of Mt Macedon [about 15 kms north of Sunbury] – have not made the effort to get to that one yet, either.

The following story is an interesting, and inspiring, sideline to the Mt Macedon ceremony – 

‘An 80km walk may not be everyone’s idea of a Sunday stroll but it’s the way two locals will challenge themselves and remember those who fought on the Kokoda track. Gisborne’s Ian Gilchrist and Sunbury’s John Turnbull will again walk from the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne to the dawn service at Mt Macedon on Anzac Day. It will be the second time they have walked the route, and this year Mokoda (Macedon and Kokoda) has a following with a dozen or more people joining in. Mr Gilchrist said the friends regularly walked up Mt Macedon and decided last year to try and make it to the dawn service – starting at the Shrine of Remembrance.“We do take a lot for granted about the freedoms that were granted by those before us,” Mr Gilchrist said. “We did it as a personal challenge and as a mark of respect.” Mr Gilchrist played down the length of the journey and the thought that it could rain.“I think it’s more like 73km and it’s not that bad.  “It’s quite easy, it’s mostly flat, Bulla is a bit hilly and Mt Macedon is a bit of challenge at the end but you just take it easy.” The IT product manager and Sunbury pilot will set off at 10pm [Sunday] to make the trek.’  I hope they all made it too the top of the mountain succesfully this morning as planned. There is a large cross at the top of Mt Macedon which forms the central focus of the Dawn Service.

I was watching the telecasts from Gallipoli [Turkey], and Villers-Breneaux [France] early this afternoon, of the ANZAC Dawn services been held in both countries, and found it quite emotional at times – particularly at the conclusion of the service from Anzac Cove [Gallipoli] when the National Anthems of Turkey, Australia and New Zealand were sung, and played. I thought that rather a special moment, more significant in fact than the speeches being thrown around about former foes, now celebrating together the same event – the Anzac forces of course, with the British having being the ‘invaders’ as far as Turkey was concerned, back in 1915.

However while watching that, my mind was also drawn to the fact that while the Turkish forces, at significant cost to their own numbers, fought a gallant, and winning campaign against the Allies, there was something else quite disturbing going on in that nation. Throughout the early part of World War I, Turkey was quietly behind the scenes, engaged in a systematic and pre-planned ethnic cleansing of a portion of their population. Twenty years earlier, up to 80,000 Turkish Armenians had been slaughtered, and shortly before 1915, plans were in place to rid the rid the country of it’s entire Armenian population. First to be eliminated were the 100,000 Armenian conscripts in the armed forces, followed by all Armenian community leaders, and finally the forced deportation of the balance of the population into the desert regions, and Interior Minister Talaat Bey was given responsibility for carrying out Turkey’s ‘final solution’ of it’s Armenian ‘problem’.  In David Shermer’s history ‘World War I’, he writes “Talaat instructed that ‘the Government…..decided to destroy completely all Armenians living in Turkey……An end must be put to their existence, however criminal the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex nor to conscientious scruples’.” P136].  In the summer of 1915 [while the Gallipoli campaign was in progress], a quartet of a million Armenians managed to escape to Russia, but they were the exceptions. Of the two million Armenians within the Ottoman Empire in 1914,  one and a half million of them had disappeared from the face of the earth by 1916. Ever since then, Turkey has told the rest of the world to ‘mind it’s own business’.  And seemingly, in view of subsequent genocidal events in the 20th century, the world has done just that, and sat back while nations undertook attempts to ‘ethnically cleanse’ their countries of those parts of the population not wanted, eg,   the Jews [by the Nazis], Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and so on!!!

So around Australia, countless speeches today, are talking of the sacrifices made by our soldiers, to bring peace to the world, but when you look at much of the world since 1915, we have seen very little peace, or kindness of man to his/her fellow man!!

But, that is another topic, and something that has been forgotten in the euphoria of today’s celebrations. During World War II, my father was, amongst other roles, a member of an anti-aircraft division operating out of New Guinea, in defence against Japanese war plane attacks.  On the 13th May, 1943, he wrote a short poem, which he titles the ‘Anti-Aircraft Gunner’

‘I’m sitting here and wondering,

Just what it’s all about.

The guns are all a-thundering

And the fighter’s going out.

Our crew is standing ready

Lest the Zero come in sight,

We’re bound to give old Tojo

A most terrific sight.’

[by Gunner John Keith Kirk]


Turning away from ANZAC, to the big Anzac Day football match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground this afternoon – a traditional game on the 25th April between Collingwood and Essendon. Must admit, I put all else aside, and decided to watch this game  – a crowd of 89,626 present, beautiful weather, and a fairly close game throughout the match, although somehow, you felt that the favourites, last year’s Premiers Collingwood, just had the answers whenever Essendon challenged, and while the score of 30 points difference in the end, looked impressive, that was really only dominance in the last 15 minutes, apart from a strong first quarter. I thought the game even for the rest of the match. Final score: Collingwood Magpies: 16.11.107 defeated Essendon Bombers: 11.11.77.  Now, looking back over Collingwood’s games this year, I believe that result means that Carlton [my team] have got the closest to the Magpies so far this year, losing by 28 points!! Last week, we drew with Essendon – guess that makes our two teams very evenly balanced!!



  1. My Gallipoli trip was great. I love troy – especially Istanbul and anzac – It is a wonderful place with wonderful people. I had a great stay in Istanbul and gallipoli. I was given a nice room by the hotel and people were very polite at the front desk and they were smiling all the time so i felt fine Thanks for the arrangement of our tour in gallipoli. I am so happy with the tour arrangement especially in troy & gallipoli .i really enjoyed it . Thanks again.

  2. A curious question.. My Grandfather’s name was John Keith Kirk, and I remember my mother and grandmother Elizabeth Knuckey saying he was in Changi but in doing the family tree, I find no records at all. It this the same person as you describe above? My grandfather’s Service number was VX68958. If so, could you fill in some gaps in my family tree? After my mother’s divorce in the early 1980s I have not had any contact. If not, sorry to trouble you.

    • Hello Woosang,
      Thankyou for your communication, and I was very interested in the coincidence of names –
      My father was John Keith Kirk, my mother Elizabeth [Enid] Knuckey, and it seems we are related – I am fascinated to know who your mother was, as I have two brother who were divorced and married again.
      My father served in World War Two [in New Guinea mainly] but no, he was never in Changi [we did have a 2nd/3rd cousin who died as a Japanese POW, perhaps the confusion has come in there somehow].
      Incidentally my brother’s name and that of their first wives were:
      Robert married Helen Wotzko [Robert lives and works in Sydney, with his 2nd wife]
      Ian married Jenny Smith [Ian, retired from the Australian Army, lives in Brisbane, alone]

      I would like very much if you would get back to be – our apparent similarities in family names etc may be simply a coincidence, but certainly if I can help you in any way with your family tree [something I have been working on for years] would be very happy to do so. You can contact me direct by email on

      Best wishes, Bill

    • Hello Woosang,

      Some time ago you posted the following enquiry on the contact/blog medium, in response to a 2011 posting I had made about Anzac Day on my blog page [which I actually dont use any more]…………… I’ve copied your posting below.

      I felt from your comments that you may have been speaking and asking about my own parents whose names were John Keith Kirk and Elizabeth Enid Knuckey [known as Keith and Betty respectively]. Keith did serve in the Second World War, mainly in the New Guinea area, but he was never a POW at Changi.

      I would very much like you to contact me – direct at – I have an extensive family tree record which I am constantly working on, and I would be happy to share what information you might need to fill in some of your gaps. If we are are talking about the same people, I belive I may in fact be your Uncle.

      I look forward to hearing from you,

      With best wishes from Bill Kirk, Sunbury, Australia

    • Hello Woosang, a further followup to your enquiry above of 31 August 2013 – I would still love you to get in touch with me as I believe I am able to help you with your enquiry. You can email me direct on Thanks, look forward to hearing from you, Bill Kirk, Sunbury [Australia]

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