Constituency Statement – War Memorials
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (09:45): Last month a new memorial wall dedicated to Australian service nurses was officially unveiled in Bundaberg by Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to duties in Canberra, but my wife, Allison, and daughter Ruby attended on my behalf.
The dedication ceremony was held to coincide with the 100th anniversary of when the first contingent of Army nursing sisters departed Queensland for World War I. The memorial park is the first of its kind in Australia. Only First World War nurses who served with the Australian Army Nursing Service are recognised at the National War Memorial in Canberra, so the special commemorative plaque that was unveiled recognises women from all units and organisations who provided medical aid during the Great War.
Recently, I was also very fortunate to attend a very moving dedication ceremony at Hervey Bay’s Freedom Park for the Centenary of Anzac Memorial. It was attended by Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO (Retired), the National President of the RSL; and Jean-Luc Bodson, the Belgian Ambassador; John Kelly; Ted Sorrensen; and Anne Madden. I would like to make special mention of Con Souvlis. Con is a World War II veteran and a well-known local businessman, who made a substantial donation towards to the memorial. The event was also attended by Senator James McGrath.
The federal government contributed $50,000 towards the expansion of the Freedom Park war memorial in Hervey Bay, under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program. The Hervey Bay RSL sub-branch has used the funds to help purchase a bronze statue of a light horseman. I must say that it is an absolutely fabulous memorial. The light horseman in full charge over the parapet, sword in hand, is something to behold.
The dedication was conducted by three chaplains but I would like to make special mention of the RSL chaplain Vic Burgess. In the time remaining, I would like to put into Hansard part of his requiem for the day, which is made up from a range of different areas, including the light horse poems. He read:
No one will weep for you my War horse,
No letter home,
They’ll be No mention in dispatches, No Memorial
For you are just an animal,
Sacrificed on the altar of man, left to rot in Flanders field
But for those precious minutes, he was more than man,
This day, of all days, he kept his bond, did not flinch,
Though death was all around,
Galloped blindly through the death rattle of the guns, face on,
No retreat, Onward, Onward,
The magnificence of the horse, No equal, never forget,
For it is the shame of a nation, a sin of mankind,
To undo the hand of god
No glory here, only an empty cup left on the altar of insanity.
… … …
For I will weep for you,
My noble friend,
My War Horse, You Magnificent Beast.