Anzac Day Commemorations 2019

School Service – Friday 26th April

The Dimboola Memorial Secondary College commemorated the 104th Anzac Day with a service on the afternoon of Friday 26 April.

School Captain Rebekah Albrecht gave an address entitled “Why the White Poppy?” which outlined the contribution made by medical staff during times of War, which was the main theme of the service.

School Captain Mitchell Jorgensen recited the heroic story of Dimboola nurse, Matron Paschke, who perished at sea after the transport ship she was on was torpedoed by the Japanese during the evacuation of Singapore in 1942.

Dimboola Primary School captain Jas Porter read the poem “In Flanders Fields”.

The focus of the service this year was for all those present to pin white poppies on a red cross, symbolising the medical staff.

Mr Ian Lehmann gave a brief talk on the significance of the lone bugler in memorial services before playing the Last Post and Reveille, and the traditional minute of silence was observed.

Indy Ward, captain from the Dimboola Primary School, concluded the service by reading the Anzac Ode.

You can read full copies of the addresses given by Rebekah and Mitchell below the photo galleries at the bottom of this page.

Town Service – Thursday 25th April

The Dimboola Memorial Secondary College, also the town’s War Memorial, had hosted a Dawn Service, wreath laying ceremony and morning service on the previous day, Anzac Day.

The address at the dawn service, which was attended by around 200 people, was given by Charles Rees, and this was followed by a breakfast provided by the staff and students of the College.

At 8.30 am members from a number of local community groups assembled at the Memorial Gates at the front of the College for the march along the Avenue of Honour to the Soldiers Memorial Hall and the cenotaph for the laying of wreaths.

The Country Fire Authority, Dimboola branch of the Country Women’s Association, Dimboola Memorial Secondary College, Dimboola Primary School, the, Girl Guides, Hindmarsh Shire, St Peter’s Lutheran School and interested members of the community joined the march.

The morning service was led by Pastor Sue Hobbs and features guest speaker John Robinson along with music provided by the Nhill/Dimboola Band.

Mr Robinson, a former Police Inspector and founder of the Emergency Air Services in Victoria had originally planned to speak about the Air Force Base at Nhill during the Second World War, but chose instead to speak about the importance on volunteering during emergencies in the community in the wake of the deaths of two volunteer Life Savers at Port Campbell during the previous week.

His address focussed on the need to provide appropriate support to civilian volunteers after significant traumatic events, in the way that the military now does for service personnel.

Ian Lehmann sounded the Last Post and Reveille.

Photo Gallery - School Service

Click on a photo below to enlarge.

Photo Gallery - Town Service

Click on a photo below to enlarge.

Address given by Rebekah Albrecht

In 2019, the focus for Australia’s Anzac commemorations has been on the significant contributions made by nurses and medics during times of conflict. This is particularly significant for our school, as we have a famous nurse memorialised here at DMSC. Mitchell will speak about Matron Patschke shortly.

Ever since the first military nurses sailed for the Boer War in South Africa in January 1900, Australian nurses have served in theatres of war and conflict around the world. They have worked under the most hazardous conditions, endured extreme discomfort in the most harrowing of circumstances and sometimes lost their lives.

During the First World War, nurses serving with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) were the only women in the Australian Imperial Force – the force that Australia sent to the war. A number of Australian women also served with other groups. On the Western Front they worked in advanced dressing stations and field hospitals behind the lines, often within range of artillery and subject to aerial bombardment. By the end of the war more than twenty AANS nurses had died and seven had been awarded the Military Medal for courage under fire.

More than 4000 women served with the AANS during the Second World War, more than 600 with the Royal Australian Air Force Nursing Service and sixty with the Royal Australian Naval Nursing Service. They deployed to an even wider variety of locales than their predecessors, reflecting the global nature of the war and the extent of Australia’s involvement in the campaigns against Germany and her European allies, and against Japan in Asia and the Pacific. Australia’s Second World War nurses faced considerable danger and seventy-eight lost their lives. Nurses were among the thousands of Australians who became prisoners of the Japanese, suffering more than three years of severe privation in poorly equipped, crowded and unsanitary camps.

After the Second World War Australian military nurses served with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. During the Korean War in the early 1950s, Australian nurses served in South Korea and Japan and on medical evacuation flights. In the following decade they played an important role in Australia’s longest war of the twentieth century, the Vietnam War, many of them serving in the main Australian hospital at Vung Tau.

Over recent decades the ranks of female military personnel have swelled and women are now to be found in most branches of the Australian Defence Force. From 1972 onwards, men were permitted to serve within the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps. Women still serve as military nurses, but now also as doctors and in other fields of military medicine. As well as treating those wounded in the wars and conflicts in which Australians have fought, military nurses now also deploy on peacekeeping operations treating wounded service men and women from Australia and from other countries’ armed forces, and often also local civilians.

Today in our poppy ceremony, we will pin white poppies around a red cross to symbolise the contributions and sacrifices that nurses and medics have made to Australia’s war efforts for over 100 years.

Lest we forget.

The Story of Matron Olice Dorothy Paschke, delivered by Mitchell Jorgensen

The sun dial (erected in 1949) in front of Dimboola Memorial Secondary College, Memorial Building, commemorates the life and service of Matron Olive Dorothy Paschke of the Australian Army Nursing Division.

Dorothy Paschke was born in Dimboola in 1905, was educated and grew up in the district. She was a very good sportswoman, excelling in tennis and golf, and enjoyed a wide circle of friends.

Having chosen nursing as her profession, she left Dimboola to train in Melbourne. Later she returned as Matron of the Airlie Private Hospital in Dimboola. After four years she returned to Melbourne as sub-matron of the Jessie McPherson Hospital.

In 1939 war broke out between Britain and Germany, and Australia immediately joined the conflict on the side of Britain. Dorothy Paschke joined the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1940, and volunteered to serve abroad. Her leadership qualities were soon recognised. She was placed in charge of a group of nurses and sent to join the 10th Australian General Hospital in Malaya. At that time there was no war in the Pacific region; but with the entry of Japan on the side of Germany in 1941, events moved rapidly. Malaya was invaded from the north by Japan and the Hospital Unit was ordered to move south to Singapore. Matron Paschke supervised the conversion of a Chinese school into a 200 bed hospital. Her energy and organising ability were an example to all. Casualties poured in and it became necessary to use a number of other buildings. There were frequent air raids. At one stage, Matron Paschke risked her own life to protect a helpless patient. For her outstanding service at this time she was awarded the Royal Red Cross, the highest honour in military nursing.

Eventually it was decided that the nursing staff should be evacuated from Singapore. Matron Paschke, with 65 nurses and 250 civilians, embarked on a small ship called the Vyner Brook. With enemy aircraft overhead the journey was full of danger and anxiety. Boat drills were carried out and tasks allotted, and civilians were to have priority. The next day the ship was attacked by Japanese planes and began to sink 16 kilometres off the Banka Island coast. Under Matron Paschke’s supervision the wounded were placed in lifeboats, the civilians in rafts, and then the nurses went over the side. They clambered aboard rafts and floating wreckage and paddled towards land. A place was found for Matron Paschke on a small raft that already had seven nurses and several civilians.

Several times their raft came close to land but currents took them back out to sea.

Another group of 22 Australian nurses managed to reach Banka Island, but the occupying Japanese soldiers forced them to walk back into the sea before shooting them in the back.

On Matron Paschke’s raft, after about eighteen hours, she and three others slipped over the side and swam alongside in order to lighten the load. A strong current separated the swimmers from the raft and they all disappeared never to be seen again. The date: February 12, 1942.

Sister Betty Jeffrey was one who managed to swim ashore where she was captured by the Japanese and put into a prisoner of war camp. After her release, Sister Jeffrey returned to Australia and told the story of the courage and calmness of Matron Paschke in those last hours they were on the raft together. In 1951 Matron Paschke was posthumously awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal for exceptional courage and devotion with exemplary service. Please remember the ultimate sacrifice that this Dimboola woman made when you pin your white poppy on the board shortly.

Lest we forget.

Dawn Service Address - Charles Rees

The Anzac Spirit of fortitude, courage, service and sacrifice is what was made 104 years ago in a land on the other side of the world called Gallipoli, Turkey. A place not ever heard of in Australia until then.

Here is their Spirit, in the heart of the land they loves; and here we guard the recore which they themselves made - Charles Bean, First World War (WW1) correspondent and historian, inscribed at the Australian War Memorial (AWM), Canberra.

The Anzac Spirit has become the Aussie Spirit, in the presence of the Holy Spirit under the Great Southern Cross. It has helped us to appreciate ...”those who gave us what we have and who so significantly helped to make us who we are” (as Australians), words attributed from Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the AWM.

Dr Nelson also said, “It is tempting, human beings as we are, to settle for the broad brushstrokes of our history. It is easy to settle for headlines, and in neglectful ignorance forget devotion to duty, service to our nation, and individual sacrifices made in our name. To do so would demean the memory of those lives and diminish us as we face new and emerging horizons”.

So on this 103rd Anzac Day we gather at this special and unique War Memorial to commemorate the 104th Landing at Anzac Cove on 25th April, 1915. To honour those men and women whose names are engraved on these granite tablets at Dimboola’s War Memorial. At first the WW1 Roll of Honour, later on WW2 and Korean War were put in place. We remember then and honour them; they who answered the ‘call to arms’ of King, Country and Empire; they gave their all.

In New Zealand and Australia Anzac Day services have been and are being held to honour all those men and women of the Army, Navy, Airforce and Nursing/Medical services who served and paid the supreme sacrifice in all theatres of war and peacekeeping. The first service was held earlier today in West Samoa and the last to be held at Anzac Cottage, Mt Hawthorn in Perth, Western Australia, this evening at 5.30 pm, WA time.

It was at Gallipoli, the Battle of the Dardanelles, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were to develop a reputation of courage, sacrifice, ingenuity, independence and mateship, along with perseverance when faced with overwhelming/colossal odds.

They were to build on their value as front-line troops at the Western Front battles in France and Belgium between April 1916 and end of October 1918 at : Messines, Pozieres, Polygon Wood, Bullecourt, Hamel, Villers-Bretonneux, Mont St Quinton, Hindenburg Line. By 1918 the Anzac’s had become the elite of the British Expeditionary Forces.

The Light Horse troopers reunited with their horses in Egypt in 1916 mounted up and demonstrated the same fine qualities as their Infantry mates. Proving their worth with the advance against the Ottoman/German forces in the Middle East campaign. They being at the fore-front of the successful battles of Romani and El Arish (1916), and Beersheba (1917). Continuing the push through Palestine and Jordon in 1918, to witness the enemy surrender in October.

British General Sir Edmund Allenby said, “..they have earned the gratitude of the Empire and the admiration of the world”.

These tenacious, resolute and resourceful men have earned an honoured respectful place in our history; forging a legend in our folklore.

One hundred years age a war memorial for Dimboola was being discussed by two separate groups : Returned Sailors Soldiers and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA) later to become the Returned Services League (RSL), Dimboola Sub-branch and a local community organisation. They later combined their efforts to form a planning committee of fifteen men : eight RSL and seven community. Their vision had to be put on hold due to an interruption; the Spanish Flu Pandemic.

This episode was experienced across Australia and New Zealand at the time. This was to be an added burden to bear for the many returned/returning men who shattered in health, suffering from wounds, serious disabilities and illnesses, and for their families and their carers.

The death toll worldwide was greater than the ‘Great War’ itself.

Where we gather today in remembrance, is the vision splendid, opened in 1924 : Dimboola Soldier’s War Memorial, a Memorial Elementary School, later a High School, now Dimboola Memorial Secondary College (DMSC). A place of secondary education attended by students from Dimboola and district, Jeparit and Horsham.

Unique, being one of a kind in Victoria. A place of learning; a living memorial.

In recent years some students have had the opportunity to be involved in various projects to aid our remembrance and commemoration : making of the tall artificial poppies, revamping the garden beds in front of the memorial building, ensuring each plaque in the Avenue of Honour has a poppy on Anzac Day, helping with weeding and tiding of the Avenue of Honour.

The Anzac Crosses set out near Matron Paschke’s memorial are replacements made by a Year 12 VCAL Student Project.

These students : Sophie Warner, Brady Paley, Chris Eldridge, Daniel Danish, Tom McErvale, Yasmin Harradine, thank you for your excellent work. It is a wonderful contribution for the remembrance of those who have died since their war service.

The first WW1 Memorial in Australia was erected on South Terrace, Adelaide at the end of 1915.

By 1919 many other memorials emerged in many different forms. In my home village of Stockinbingal, NSW an eight bed hospital was built, opening in 1924 (it closed in 1970, now a private home). At Cootamundra, NSW, my birth place, a sphere atop a column is their cenotaph, in Albert Park. Later a memorial/remembrance wall with WW2 name plaques of all those who served was added.

We know of the Avenues of Honour ; approximately 250 in Victoria. Dimboola’s Avenue of Honour was planted in 1958, now 95 trees : 64 WW1, 30 WW2, 1 Korean War. A living tribute to our ‘fallen’.

Another living memorial is the Lone Pine. In 1934 an Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) was planted at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. It was from seeds germinated from a pine cone sent by an Australian soldier to his mother in Australia; his brother had been killed in at the Battle of Lone Pine, Gallipoli. The pine cone had been taken from a log used by the Turks to cover their trenches.

Many trees originating from the seed of Australian War Memorial Aleppo pine have been planted at war memorials and parks all across Australia. We have our own at DMSC.

Today I ask the young people of Dimboola to rally their Aussie Spirit; show your devotion to duty and service to your community. Watch over and care for your special war memorials. Particularly our Avenue of Honour which has now been restored to the glorious intension as a testament to the Anzac/Aussie Spirit of these MEN and Matron Paschke who perished for our sake.

Take up the challenge, join with me in maintaining our Avenue of Honour, then become Affiliate members of the RSL and allow the tradition of the RSL connection to continue for future generations to appreciate what we have here at DMSC.

When you leave from here today, go slowly through the Guard of Honour, the sentinel of trees which stand as the Avenue of Honour, as they flank your departure think of these words in a poem by H Brew:

All ye who tread this Avenue of Life, remember those who bowed beneath the strife each leaf a laurel grows with deathless fame, and every tree reveals a heroes name.

My Grandfather, Major Charles Venden Rees MC returned from WW1, to Brisbane 25th April, 1919. He was a very changed man, affected by his war experience. He died in 1931, amongst the many unaccounted for casualties of WW1.

Lord God of Hosts, be with yet,
Lest we forget,


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