ANZAC Day 2011 commemoration services in Gothenburg

Ambassador Bridge accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Tony McCall, RNZN, lays a wreath at the Commonwealth war grave section at Kviberg Cemetery

Kviberg Cemetery

Ambassador Barbara Bridge and the Australian Ambassador, Paul Stephens, commemorated ANZAC Day, 25 April 2011, at the war graves section at Kviberg Cemetery in Gothenburg, as has become the custom each year.

New Zealand pilot Warrant Officer Warren Tuck is buried at the Commonwealth war grave site on a hillside at Kviberg Cemetery, along with several Australian comrades. A wreath was laid on behalf of the Government and the people of New Zealand by Ambassador Bridge, who was accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Tony McCall, RNZN. After addresses by both the New Zealand and Australian Ambassadors, Mr Serafettin Arhan, the Honorary Consul of Turkey in Gothenburg, read Ataturk’s memorial message. Scott Goodwin, an Australian veteran, read the Ode to the Fallen. The service was led by Rev Barbara Moss, from Gothenburg’s British church.

Over 100 people attended the service on the sunny and warm Easter Monday, and gathered afterwards at Palmhuset for a glass of Antipodean wine, sausage rolls and Anzac biscuits.

Öckerö Churchyard

About 40 people gathered earlier on ANZAC Day at Öckerö Churchyard to pay tribute to Sgt J C Williams who lies at rest on this beautiful island outside Gothenburg. Sgt Williams’ plane was shot down in August 1942 while on its way to northern Germany and the Öckerö community has looked after his grave ever since his body was washed up on the island almost 70 years ago. In a brief commemoration ceremony, Ambassador Barbara Bridge, accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Tony McCall, RNZN, placed a wreath on his grave, and Adrian Temm, a New Zealander living in Gothenburg, read the Ode to the Fallen. Rev Åke Andreasson from Öckero and Rev Barbara Moss led the prayers.

Press coverage of the event at Öckerö Churchyard.

The Ambassador’s speech at Kviberg

Thank you Reverend Moss. Good afternoon fellow New Zealanders and Australians, ladies and gentlemen.

Today is a day of remembrance but also a day when we pay tribute to the men and women who are serving our country today. And we celebrate the strong bonds of mateship and kinship between Australia and New Zealand.

On April 25, 1915, at around 9 o’clock in the morning, New Zealanders began to land on the beaches of Gallipoli in order to reinforce the Australians who had landed at dawn and were suffering heavy losses. At the end of the day, more than one hundred New Zealanders had died. Many of them were teenage boys, on what they thought would be a great adventure. After all, everyone knew that “the war would be over by Christmas”. The reality proved to be inconceivable. The horrors that faced the men at Gallipoli and in the trenches in many parts of Europe, are hard to imagine on a spring afternoon here in Gothenburg. But it is important that we try, that we keep remembering these men and the horrors that faced them, in order to make sure it never happens again.

We will remember them.

Both sides suffered enormous losses of life at Gallipoli. For Australia and New Zealand, Gallipoli became our first major campaign undertaken together, and the men made a name for themselves fighting hard, skilfully and bravely, against the odds, in hostile surroundings. For the Turkish people, defending Gallipoli was a central step towards a new country and a new national identity and they too fought bravely for their country. We are honoured to have with us today the deputy Chief of Mission at the Turkish Embassy, Mr Firat, who will read the very moving Ataturk memorial message.

But regardless of the nationality of those who fought and died, Gallipoli was a triumph of the human spirit. Our soldiers’ contribution became a source of national pride, as well as sorrow. The Gallipoli operation may have been a military failure – desperately mismanaged and under-resourced – but from New Zealand’s participation in a war on the other side of the world grew a distinct identity as a country. ANZAC Day has hence become central to our nationhood; a symbol of a sense of unique identity and unity, and a day when we reflect about what it means to be a New Zealander.

The mutual respect earned while fighting alongside each other in Gallipoli formed a strong bond between New Zealanders and Australians and that lives on today. The shared heritage of the nations was particularly poignant during a service in Christchurch today when New Zealand and Australian service personnel and disaster experts took time out from the earthquake recovery to attend ANZAC day services. Australia quickly came to New Zealand’s aid in the wake of the devastating Christchurch earthquake in February this year and almost one hundred Australian police and disaster experts are still helping out with the recovery. Some have argued that the feeling of kinship between New Zealand and Australia following the earthquake has not been as strong since the bonds of mateship were formed at Gallipoli in 1915.

Gallipoli was a military defeat for the British Empire and New Zealand was broken apart through the loss of so many of our young men. But it also gave us a distinct national identity and a great pride in making an international contribution. ANZAC day today represents a sense of unity, a sharing of the sorrow of so many lives lost in war, but also a respect for those who endure warfare on behalf of our country. So today we also pay tribute to those men and women who continue to make an international contribution and who are serving our country today. Fighting for a better world: for humanity, for peace and for democracy. There are currently 746 New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed in ten countries around the world, including Sinai, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste. When we today remember those who died at Gallipoli, those who left their families and country fighting for what they believed in, let us also pay tribute to those who every day risk their lives because they believe that a better world is possible. And in paying tribute to these brave men and women, let us, in the spirit of ANZAC, vow that we shall every day try to do something to make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. And in so doing, ensure that those men and women have not died in vain.

We will remember them.

Ambassador Bridge’s words at the graveside on Öckerö

Thank you Reverend Andreasson. And thank you for welcoming us to your church once again.

Good afternoon fellow New Zealanders and Australians, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Öckerö churchyard, where we today have a wreath-laying ceremony for Sgt John Williams, who rests here. I am particularly pleased to see some of the Öckerö parish here today and I want to say, on behalf of the New Zealand government, a heartfelt thank you for looking after the grave for so many years.

Sgt John Williams was born in Wellington in 1921 and enlisted in the New Zealand Air force in 1941. His final flight was a bombing raid from England to Flensburg in Germany onboard the Wellington Bomber, X 3371. Sgt Williams was only 21 years old when his plane crashed into the North Sea, killing all on board. We believe his remains were washed up on this island. The people of Öckerö laid him to rest in this beautiful graveyard on the West coast of Sweden and has been caring for him ever since. For this we are grateful.

Sgt John was an ANZAC, and we would like take this opportunity to honour him for the sacrifices he made fighting for the Allied forces during the Second World War. This young man left his home, family and friends in New Zealand to help liberate Europe, a continent far from home. His sense of duty and sacrifice was echoed by thousands of men and women during the war. It is therefore a particular honour for me, as the Ambassador of New Zealand, to lay a wreath on Sgt Williams’ grave on this ANZAC day when we remember those who gave their lives fighting for a better world. Later on this afternoon I, together with the Australian Ambassador, will participate in the ANZAC commemoration ceremony at Kviberg cemetery where we remember the sacrifices of our fellow countrymen and women.

On this day, April 25 2011, we remember them all.
 

 

 

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