Centenary of ANZAC

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [4.48 p.m.]: In 2015 we commemorated the immortal day 100 years ago when young Australians at Gallipoli demonstrated to the world through their bravery, deeds and sacrifice that Australia was truly a nation. As part of the commemoration we must also remember the other Commonwealth forces that made massive sacrifices at Gallipoli as well as in other theatres of war in the First World War. They include forces from Britain and Ireland, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan as it is today, Malta and Assyria.

Mr Andrew Gee: And the Gurkhas.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT: And the Gurkhas. I include them in the Indian forces. At Gallipoli the casualties were quite significant. There were more than 26,000 casualties amongst the Australian forces. Of those, more than 8,000 were killed in action. During the First World War more than 164,000 people from New South Wales enlisted. Along with those from all the other States, the total number of Australians that enlisted was 416,000, which is a huge number when Australia had a population of only a few million people. Of those, 61,514 were killed in action and more than 155,000 were wounded in action in the First World War. Those are horrific numbers to think about.

Every family in Australia lost a family member, friend or colleague in the First World War. From this House we lost two people that we know of. There is no doubt that there are members of Parliament and staff who lost friends, colleagues and family members. On this day we remember the sacrifice of such men and women for an ideal—for an Australian way of life. Let us take strength in the knowledge that our sons and daughters will never forget the example set by their forefathers and mothers. In our everyday life let us also endeavour to carry forward the traditions established by the Anzacs at such a tragic cost.

Today I talk about two local heroes from the Prospect electorate. The McCarthy family lived on a small farm near Smithfield in the south of the Prospect electorate. Norman and Leo McCarthy were brothers. Norman was a light horseman. He served with the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment and went on to fight in the Battle of Beersheba in the First World War. Beersheba was one of the last great cavalry charges. The 12th Light Horse is remembered today and the tradition continues as A Squadron of the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers [HRL] based in Armidale. I know this regiment very well because I too served in A Squadron of the 12th/16th HRL.

Despite being married, Norman McCarthy enlisted at the age of 28. He survived a gunshot wound to the head in April 1917 while fighting in France. He returned to Australia in 1919 and continued living in the Smithfield area. His brother, Leo, was also a soldier in World War I who enlisted and fought with the Australian Imperial Force [AIF] in France. After he returned to Australia, he re-enrolled in the military at the beginning of World War II. He served with distinction. Sadly, Leo McCarthy died at the Sandakan prisoner of war camp in Borneo. Sandakan was pretty much an extermination camp run by the Japanese. I shudder to think of the horrible time he and his fellow soldiers must have had at that camp in Borneo. We must also remember the Australian Special Forces, Force Z, who tried to liberate that camp to prevent the soldiers' extermination. So many Australians died.

Norman, who survived the wars, came home and in 1953 decided that he would help establish the Smithfield RSL Sub-Branch. It is named after his brother: the Leo McCarthy Memorial Club. There is also the McCarthy Memorial Park. Both brothers received a number of medals—the stars from their campaigns, war medals and victory medals. Those medals are on display at Smithfield. Until very recently the family had lived their entire lives in that area. I also briefly mention Robert Roberts who served with the Australian Field Ambulance. He was a soldier but he decided that he did not want to kill people; he wanted to protect and save them. So he went on to serve with distinction, winning the Military Medal for bravery as an ambulance man. I read from his citation:

At 1am near Bullecourt [France] on the 14th May a man was lying wounded in the German barrage of HE and gas. Sergeant Roberts … led a squad of three men through the barrage and assisted in carrying the patient into a place of safety, thereby saving the man's life at the risk of his own, as the man's gas helmet was destroyed. Throughout the night … [Sergeant Roberts] regardless of his own safety, was untiring in his efforts to stimulate the bearers under him in the execution of their duty, thereby materially assisting in the evacuation of the wounded from a particularly dangerous zone. He showed pluck … and initiative of a high order.

Since the end of the First World War, Australians have continued the Anzac tradition and come forward without question, taking on their responsibilities to defend our democracy during World War II, the Cold War, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Indonesia, Vietnam, Iran and Afghanistan—and the current war on terror. They have also served in the United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Sinai, Golan Heights, Rhodesia, Pakistan, Rwanda, East Timor, Cambodia, Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.

We think of every man, woman and child who, in those crucial years, died so that the light of democracy, freedom and humanity might continue to shine. We nurture too the obligation to show gratitude for the peace we enjoy and the responsibility to ensure that the freedom and liberty so dearly won is not lost. My uncle who served in Korea came to this Chamber for my inaugural speech. At 15 years old he was the youngest soldier from the Commonwealth forces in the Korean War. He ran away from home to go and serve and went on to serve in Vietnam and do a number of tours. He also served in other places in peacekeeping forces. He said to me once that all soldiers really want is to be thanked—to be acknowledged for their service. I think that is very important to do. It is certainly wonderful to see the Anzac Day services and the thousands upon thousands of people who turn up to acknowledge the military service of so many Australians and our allies. After serving in Vietnam, my uncle was treated appallingly, like many veterans and their families. I am so pleased that today those ghosts have been put aside and those veterans are acknowledged, as are those who are serving now and those who have served recently.

In the electorate of Prospect we are surrounded not only by the spirit of those brave Anzacs but also by physical links to Gallipoli and other battlefields. For example, at Smithfield there is an honour roll for the Fairfield area, as it was known then, with the names of more than 300 people who perished in the First World War. There is the Lone Pine tree which was grown from a cutting from the Gallipoli battlefield at Lone Pine. There are rosemary bushes throughout the area which are also from cuttings from Anzac Cove. There is a memorial to those Australian soldiers still missing in action from the Korean War. On the memorial walls near the RSL at Smithfield are the names of our local veterans from all the wars who have since passed away but are always remembered. Today we take the time to remember the Anzacs from each generation and thank these local heroes that have given so much so we may have the freedoms we enjoy. In conclusion I think it is appropriate to read the Ode of Remembrance:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow,

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

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