Rememberance Day

25 Nov 2019 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (19:35): I was honoured to address the Plympton Glenelg RSL Remembrance Day service on 11 November, and I want to thank Plympton Glenelg RSL's vice-president, Bill
Hignett OAM; secretary, Tich Tyson OAM; MC, Chelsea Carruthers; outstanding singers led by Regina Crook;and St Leonards Primary School for their wonderful contribution to the service.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the service. It also marked the 100th anniversary of my greatgrandfather returning from World War I in April 1919. It was an honour to have him featured by the Plympton Glenelg RSL in their service booklet, and for me to be able to reflect on his service. My great-grandfather, Roy Gambrell, left for World War I in 1915 aged 18. He survived Pozieres, Bullecourt, wounding, 545 days as a prisoner of war and three years and 145 days abroad. He was 21 years of age when he returned home and would barely last the same number of years again. But he was one of the lucky ones. Had he not been, I would not be standing here today as the fourth generation of my family, continuing the community service he and my great grandmother began in my electorate, in Lower Mitcham in 1920, when they settled in a modest war service home and raised their only child, my grandmother, Gwyneth, whose calisthenics medal I often wear in this place, and am wearing today.

To mark the 100th anniversary of my great-grandfather's return to Australia from World War I, I travelled to the Western Front in France with his grandson, my father, Evan, my mother, Glenys, my sister Belinda, brother-inlaw, Josh and his great-great grandchildren, my niece, Gwyneth and my nephew, Hugo, to see where he served.

There are no words to adequately describe visiting the places where your great-grandfather served—to stand on the very ground where he faced unimaginable horror and where you know so many hundreds of thousands of young lives were lost for our freedom. We went to Poziers, a place where Australian troops faced the heaviest artillery fire ever sustained by our forces, a place that, our first war historian, Charles Bean, wrote, 'is more deeply sewn with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth,' and a place with 24,000 Australian casualties and 6,800 dead.

We then travelled to Bullecourt and stood where he stood, across the open shallow valley, looking towards the German stronghold, imagining how hopeless it must have felt to know what you're about to face. And perhaps it was worse, with 3,000 Australians killed and wounded, 1,170 Australians captured, including my great grandfather. We visited these sites with Sacred Ground Tours, and I want to record my gratitude to Phil Hora for arranging our visit and to our guide, Peter Lloyd, who added so much detail as to what occurred at each place.

We visited a number of Commonwealth war cemeteries, and I want to acknowledge the tremendous contribution each Commonwealth nation made, and continues to make, to ensure that these memorials to so many young lives lost continue to be beautifully maintained so that families and visitors can pay tribute to those who did not come home and ensure their lives will never be forgotten. We visited Villers-Bretonneux and the John Monash Centre —and I want to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott for leading the case to establish the centre, and to the work that Director Carolyn Bartlett and Deputy Director Cathy Carnel do at the centre, and I thank them for their assistance during my visit.

I also want to thank the Director of the Australian War Memorial, the Hon. Brendan Nelson, for his advice and for arranging our participation in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life and a very great privilege to lay a wreath, with my family looking on, and alongside fellow Aussies, Mick Power AM and his wife, Denise, and Peter Dawes and his wife, Gwendoline. I want to acknowledge the truly incredible work of the volunteers of the Last Post Association including Chairman Benoit Mottrie, who I was fortunate to meet. These volunteers, including the buglers, conduct the Last Post ceremony each and every day at 8 pm sharp, and have done so since 1928. Today will be the 31,600th time they do so. There were hundreds of people gathered on the day we were there.

The visit was a very important reminder of the great responsibility we, as members of parliament, have to our defence forces. I acknowledge the service and sacrifice of all our servicemen and women, medical staff and nurses who have served our nation during times of war and times of peace throughout our history, and continue to serve today. At the Last Post ceremony, Chairman Mottrie gave me the privilege, at short notice, of reciting the Kohima epitaph, which I will close with now:

When you go home, tell them of us and say

For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

Lest we forget.