Invited by some of the many Australian friends of the Last Post Association
On Thursday November 5th 2015, a delegation of the Ypres’ Last Post Association will travel to the little town of Woy Woy, in New South Wales – Australia. The delegation consisting of Carl Denys (member of the board) and buglers Christophe Wils and Tonny Desodt will participate at the official ceremonies on the occasion of Armistice. This trip underlines the mission of the Last Post Association to continue to remember the sacrifice made by the soldiers of the Commonwealth. In the Ypres Salient 13,000 Australian soldiers lost their lives of which 6,193 are forever carved in the stones of the Menin Gate at Ieper.
3 schools and RSL
The Last Post Association has been invited by 3 local schools: the Brisbane Water Secondary College (Woy Woy campus), the Kincumber High School and the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College (The Entrance Campus). These schools have organized fundraising projects to cover the financial aspect of this trip.
Part of the different School Tours, the delegation will also meet representatives of the RSL the NSW RFS and participate in ceremonies at the Australian War memorial.
The RSL is the Returned and Services League of Australia (www.rslvic.com.au). The RSL is with a membership of 240,000 the largest service and ex-service association in Australia and is generally referred to as the RSL or the League.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is a volunteer based firefighting agency and statutory body of the Government of New South Wales. The NSW RFS is the world’s largest volunteer fire service, with 73,746 volunteer members forming 2,053 volunteer brigades across the state.
Ceremonies on Armistice
Buglers Christophe Wils and Tonny Desodt will sound the Last Post and the Reveille on Armistice Day during the Gosford Remembrance Day Service. Followed in the evening by the Twilight Service.
For Christophe and Tonny this is an extraordinary honor: “Each day, our group of buglers sounds the Last Post under the Menin Gate at Ieper. The many visitors from home and abroad that thank us after the ceremony and tell us their stories are often very emotional. Sounding the Last Post now in Australia, keeps us remembering the sacrifice that so many Australian soldiers brought in Flanders.”
Member of the board Carl Denys continues: “During the Great War 324,000 Australian soldiers served their country in distant Europe. With 61,700 deaths and a 155,000 wounded, together representing nearly two thirds of those who left Australia, the sacrifice was enormous. Another 60,000 of these had died by 1930 from the aftereffects of their physical and psychological injuries. Horrific figures that significantly exceeded the 40,000 Australians who were killed in the Second World War. In Flanders, the Australian soldiers served at Hill 60, Messines, Passchendaele and Polygon Wood, very often together with soldiers from New Zealand. On the Menin Gate, 6,193 names of Australian soldiers are mentioned on the walls of the Memorial. Each year there’s a special ANZAC Day ceremony on April 25th to remember the sacrifice of the soldiers from Australia and New Zealand.”
On their program, the Last Post Association will also meet H.E. Mr Bodson, the Belgian Ambassador in Australia and Mr Rod White AM RFD, State President of the RSL.
After their visit to New South Wales, the delegation will travel to Canberra, the capital of Australia. They will visit the Australian War Memorial. In the entrance hall of this museum are the two lions that previously stood at the Menin Gate at Ieper. In 1936, these lions were presented to Australia by the people of Ieper as a sign of gratitude for the heavy sacrifices made by Australians in Flanders. The lions will return to the Menin Gate in 2017. This gesture will assist the 100thcommemoration of the battle of Passchendaele in which Australians fought with extraordinary courage.
Since 17th April 2013, the Australian War Memorial follows the Ypres tradition of sounding the Last Post on a daily basis. Buglers Christophe and Tonny will participate in ceremonies on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th November at the AWM. During their visit to Canberra, they will also be hosted by Deputy Chief Officer Richard Woods of the Australian Capital Territory Rural Fire Service, meet Canberra Volunteer Firefighters and he will accompany them to a NSW Rural Fire Service exercise in the township of Gunning.
Dr. Brendan Nelson, the director of the Australian War Memorial, will lead the ceremony in the AWM. As Australian Ambassador to Belgium (till 2012), he has witnessed the Last Post ceremony under the Menin Gate at many occasions. The Last Post Association is very grateful to Dr. Nelson for his continuous efforts. The board, the buglers and all the people involved in Last Post Association are looking forward to see the two lions coming back to the Menin Gate in 2017.