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This week, Wenona commemorated Anzac Day at our Principal’s Assembly for both Senior and Junior School.
In the morning at our Senior School Assembly, our cadets formed a catalfalque party in front of the stage, standing with their heads bowed and facing outward as a sign of respect for those who have fallen.
Charlotte (Year 9) gave the After Prayer and Lexie (Year 9) recited the 1918 Moina Belle Michael poem We Shall Keep the Faith.
Guest speaker, LTCOL Elisabeth Barnett, Commanding Officer, 1st Close Health Battalion, gave a powerful speech about the ongoing legacy of the first ANZACs. She highlighted the importance of mateship, service, courage and sacrifice, values that go to the very essence of Australian soldiery and continue to live on in our Armed forces today.
Maddy and Mattise (Year 9) gave an interesting insight into General Sir John Monash GCMG, KCB, VD who was an outstanding military leader and led a brigade at Gallipoli. He was noted for his brilliant command of the Australian Army Corps in France, which resulted in a number of great victories that are credited with having shortened the course of the Great War.
At the end of the Assembly, students observed a minutes silence before the cadets solemnly marched out to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
In the afternoon, our Year 6 Junior School Prefects, Nina, Phoebe, Imogen and Lucy, and our Service Learning Prefects, Olivia, Gemma and Claudia, put on an extremely informative and moving Assembly, ably assisted by our ICT Prefects, Lottie, Yasmin and Elly, and supported by Mr Pomfrett.
Nina, Phoebe, Imogen and Lucy spoke about the proud history of ANZAC traditions, including Lieutenant General Birdwood, the legendary commander who first adopted the word ‘ANZAC’.
They spoke about Flanders field and explained why the red poppies that bloomed there have now become a flower of remembrance. And they commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, where the Australian forces turned the tide of the war forever.
For most of us, the image usually associated with 25 April, 1915 is that of Australian soldiers charging bravely up the steep slopes of Gallipoli. A fact that is less well-known is that behind the scenes, Australian nurses on that same day were attending to hundreds of battered and bleeding men on the decks and in the confined wards of hospital ships moored off the cove.
Olivia, Gemma and Claudia had meticulously researched the role that the Australian Medical Corps played in the First World War, focusing particularly on Australian nurses, Sister Lydia King, Sister Ella Tucker and Sister Louise Young. Dressed in the typical nurse’s uniform of the time, they cleverly brought to life the heartache, despair, fear and friendship these nurses experienced as war raged around them, quoting directly from their letters home and their diary entries.
“I shall never forget the awful feeling of hopelessness on night duty. It was dreadful….Shall not describe their wounds, they were too awful. One loses sight of all the honour and glory in the work we are doing,” said Olivia, quoting directly from the diary of Sister Lydia King.
Guest speaker, Dr Sam Hay, a Major in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and a serving GP, has been deployed six times, including a tour of Afghanistan.
He provided an extremely informative and interesting insight into the sorts of situations and patients that he encountered during his deployment. This included Poppy the bomb dog, who was injured after sniffing out explosives and was treated in the same way as any soldier.
Dr Hay finished up by saying to the students, “I give you the sky and I just can’t wait to see how high you’ll go.”
At the end of the Assembly, the audience faced west for the playing of The Last Post and observed a minutes silence.
As Anzac Day fell during the holidays this year, Bec and Sophie (Year 12) generously represented Wenona at the Dawn Service at North Sydney War Memorial. And Clare (Year 12), pictured here with the Mayor of North Sydney, Jilly Gibson, spoke eloquently at the Kirribilli RSL Anzac Service.
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
Lest we forget