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ANZAC Day Dawn Services

Anzac Day Dawn Services

Although a venue for Anzac Day services in the past, it had been quite some years since services were held in the Surrey Gardens. In 2013 the SHPA made the decision to honour the service men and women who fought in the First World War by holding Dawn Services on Anzac Day during the four year period – 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 - representing the centennial commemoration of World War 1 (1914-1918), during which the Australian forces first fought in Anzac Cove. Anzac Day commemorates the Anzac landing and remembers the lives of all serving men and women who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms granted to future generations in that war.

There is no doubt that these services have been the most important community project organised by the SHPA which has been well supported by local businesses and the City of Boroondara. The Dawn Services held on 25 April 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 followed the guidelines laid down by the RSL for such an event, and honoured the contributions made by some of Surrey Hill’s service men and women.


Large crowds attended the four Dawn Services and included State and Federal Government members and City of Boroondara Councillors.


Local schools were invited to be involved and selected student representatives to deliver profiles of the service of some of the local residents who enlisted and served.

​In 2015 we acknowledged the roles of Edward Peter Hasselbach, Robert James Hayes, William Walter James Head and George Hill Levens.

In 2016 Charles de burgh Hogg, Harry Victor Legg and Beatrice Mawson were honoured and in 2017 school friends Frederick William Mawson and William (Willie) Victor Bailey Wyatt underlined the links that existed between many who enlisted. These young men kept in contact while overseas and died in France.

In 2017 we honoured the lives of Frederick Mawson, who was born in January1893 and grew up at Number 10 Bona Vista Avenue, Surrey Hills and William(Willie) Victor Bailey Wyatt who was born in 1893 and grew up at Number 46Essex Road, Surrey Hills. Fred was killed in action on 9 November 1917. He was made a corporal on the morning he died and is buried in Belgium at the


Ramparts Cemetery near Ypres. Willie was killed in action in the second battle at Bullencourt on 3 May 1917. He has no known grave but is commemorated at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.


The service in 2018 commemorated the last year of WW1 but also the 100th anniversary of The Shrine.                                           



Anzac Day Dawn Service Address by Damien Gardiner, Past President of the Surrey Hills Progress Association, on 25th April 2018 


Our gathering here, in the pre-dawn of ANZAC Day during the year of the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, again gives us cause to reflect upon our good fortune.  We live in one of the most harmonious nations on earth, defined by tolerance, equality before the law, freedom, liberty and democracy. 


Other than on rare occasions of national reflection, such as today, we seldom take the time to genuinely appreciate the wonderful characteristics that define our nation.  Much less do we turn our minds the profound sacrifice made by so many, an extraordinary number of whom made the supreme sacrifice, to gift to us the experience we live as Australians today. 


But it’s on days, at times, and in places such as this that we pay homage, and recall the sacrifice upon which Australia, and freedom-loving nations around the world, have been built.


In times of relative peace and harmony, it’s easy to believe it was always this way, and always would be.  And yet human history is littered with those who have sought to depose the liberties we enjoy today.  The freedom to come and go as we please, the freedom to vote for governments of our choosing, the freedom to express our views.  The freedom of self-determination.


It’s because of the selflessness and determination of so many, some of whose names are engraved on this cenotaph and in this Shrine, many of whose names are recorded elsewhere, and countless others of whose sacrifice there is little recognition, that the values underpinning our nation endure.


As we gather this morning in Surrey Hills, we’re compelled to consider who amongst us, if confronted with the prospect of battle in the most inhospitable and hostile places in the world, would so willingly enlist, knowing there’s a very real prospect we may not return?  Who amongst us would be willing to put at risk our comfortable lives, to be thrust into the ravages of unrelenting and cruel armed conflict?  Who would leave their homes, families and futures to lay themselves on the altar of freedom?


Generations of our forebears faced this dilemma.  And fortunately for us, so many responded.  Unfortunately, for many of them and for all of us, countless men and women paid the ultimate sacrifice.  While we are grateful that they gave all for their country, there will always be a hole in our nation’s heart left by those unable to return.


While our focus on days such as this is on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, so many others were left to live their lives with the unbearable scars of armed conflict.  Many of us will know a brave former serviceman or woman who returned from the fields of battle, either unable to speak of the horrors they witnessed, or unable to suppress their anxiety.  There’s also those that returned with permanent physical scars, whether broken and missing limbs, shrapnel wounds and other reminders of their ordeal.  Then there are the families that welcomed a different person home from war to the one who left.


Lives ruined.  Futures stolen from them, so that we can live ours. 


How enormous is this sacrifice.           


How grateful we must be.


While the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I inevitably draws our focus back a century, we remember so much more on ANZAC Day.  Today we remember the sacrifices made in every armed conflict Australia has participated in, whether World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, INTERFET forces in Timor Leste, peacekeeping missions in places such as the Solomon Islands, War in Iraq, War in Afghanistan, War in Syria and the ubiquitous War on Terror. 


Our servicemen and women continue to carry the torch of the ANZAC legend to this day, and build upon its legacy, as the following edited quotation reveals:


He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle.  During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers.  This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.


During the conduct of a vehicle manoeuvre to extract a convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind.  Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, [the Trooper] moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter.  His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine-gun fire from entrenched positions.  Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, [the Trooper] picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles, then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.


This is not a quote from a tattered diary recovered from the Western Front.  This is extracted from Trooper Mark Donaldson’s citation when awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia on 16 January 2009 for service during Operation Slipper in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.  The legacy continues.


War is remote for many of us.  But recent murmurings and destabilization in places such as Syria, North Korea, South China Sea, Ukraine, Russia and the Middle East remind us that peace and the international rules- based order is not something to take for granted.  If not for our forebears, and indeed our contemporaries, our world would be a very different place.


We now pay our respects, express our gratitude and honour the sacrifice.




Introduction by Greg Buchanan


On the stone cenotaph here are the names of 52 young men from this community who lost their lives in the First World War. A Bereavement Notice for two of them, in The Age Newspaper in May 1918 had these words:


Just when their lives were brightest

Just when their hopes were best

Their country called, they answered

Now in God’s home they rest


We honour them all today. The following tribute is presented by Brandon & Sophia from Our Holy Redeemer School, Ben & Jessica from Surrey Hills Primary School, Jamison & Teagan from Chatham Primary School and Chelsea and Nell from Ashwood School.



Leslie Ward                               (Brandon from Our Holy Redeemer School)


Leslie Ward grew up in Surrey Hills and enlisted for the war in December 1914. He was the only son of Alice and Charles Ward who lived at "Dumeresq" in Guildford Road.


In January 1915 he wrote a letter to the editor of Melbourne’s Argus newspaper - a rally call.


"Sir, A week after the war broke out my father, in a splendid letter to me, said that he knew we were both prepared if necessary to shed our last drop of blood for Australia and the Empire. I had already joined the rifle club and sent in my name to the Victoria Barracks volunteering for active service. ...the local medical officer...very reluctantly "turned me down" for a few defective teeth in the bottom jaw. I naturally felt very savage, and thought I was not wanted, but as Lord Kitchener is still calling for more men and yet more, I tried again. I went through this time, and marched into camp on Christmas Eve.

                                                   (Sophia from Our Holy Redeemer School)


Leslie Ward said ‘And now to all those single men who have no one depending on them for a living I send this rally call. To the boys who went to school, and afterwards played football with me in Surrey Hills, to the men I worked with in the city warehouse, to the men in the church I belong to, ... to the plasterers who worked with and for me in Melbourne and country, and to the comrades who knew me in the PLC, rally round, enlist and join me. Will you? Yours Etc, Private Leslie Ward


Before he left he married Margaret Stoddart. Leslie served at Gallipoli, Egypt and the Western Front with the 1st Australian Light Horse Regiment, and was promoted to Sergeant; He died of wounds on 19 March 1917 at Pozieres.

Leslie was 29.


George and Robert Smart     (Ben from Surrey Hills Primary School)


Brothers George and Bob Smart enlisted one month apart in March and April 1915. Both served with the 22nd Infantry Battalion. The family lived at Pembroke Street, Surrey Hills, which accounts for Bob's nickname "Pem". George was a hairdresser and Bob was a carpenter.


George Smart was wounded on 2 December 1915 at Gallipoli, just before the AIF left the peninsula. He died the next day. George was 31 and left a wife, Eliza, and four daughters.


Bob went on to fight on the Western Front and was reported missing on 5 August 1916 at Pozieres. It wasn’t until January 1917 when his family heard a first-hand account from Corporal John McLeod (Mack) that they knew there was no hope that Bob would return.


                                             (Jessica from Surrey Hills Primary School)


Mack told the family that "Bob died at his feet... after Mack was wounded and bandaged in the trench, Bob came around the corner of the trench and asked Mack to bind up his wounds or take him to the Casualty tent. Mack told him he could not move. Bob then tried to get along side him but had not the strength. He then said 'Mack, I don't think I will ever see Surrey Hills again', then sank down and lay still for ever." Bob was just 20.


On Anzac Day 1917, following the death of his two brothers, Charlie Smart enlisted. His parents' permission was required as he was just 18 years and 9 months old. Charlie joined the 59th Infantry Battalion and fought at Villers Bretonneux. He returned home in September 1919.



Edgar (Ted) Ottosen                    (Jamison from Chatham Primary School)


Edgar Ottosen was born in Surrey Hills and was known as Ted. He was a baker and was described as a splendid tradesman and a popular young man. He lived most of his life with his family at Empress Rd in Surrey Hills. Ted joined up in April 1916 and served with the 37th Infantry Battalion.


He was awarded the Military Medal "for exceptional bravery and devotion to duty in action east of Ypres on 4th October 1917 (in the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge). At a time when enemy shelling and machine gun fire were exceedingly heavy, he was indefatigable in his work as a stretcher bearer and in organising other parties in this work. He stood out conspicuously and was an inspiring example to others."



                                                            (Teagan from Chatham Primary School)


The Battle of Broodseinde Ridge was a large operation, where the Australian divisions suffered 6,500 casualties. Three men from Surrey Hills died in that battle:


  • Percy Clarke, a 33-year-old clerk from Weybridge Street, described by his mate as a "good fellow and an easy going chap".

  • Harold Pasco Maxwell Smith, a 20-year-old clerk from Vincent Street, who exaggerated his age by two years when he joined up in 1915.

  • George Jobson, a 22-year-old farmer, from Croydon Road.


Corporal Ted Ottosen was killed nearly a year later on 30 September 1918 at the battle for St Quentin Canal. He was 24.


Douglas Breeden                                   (Chelsea from Ashwood School)


Like many of the boys at the time, Douglas Breeden served with the Surrey Hills senior cadets and the Citizen forces. He was a sergeant bugler. His parents Charles and Lillian lived at Victoria Avenue in Surrey Hills. His older brother, Charles joined two years earlier and was serving in France when Douglas embarked for duty in August 1918 on HMAT Barambah.


There was a severe epidemic on board the troopship with 600 cases of influenza. 17 soldiers died, some were buried at sea. Douglas was admitted to the ship's hospital with influenza on 11 October and died at sea on 20 October 1918 at 3.35pm. He was buried at Freetown in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Douglas was 22.

The Armistice agreement, ending the fighting with Germany, was signed 3 weeks later.


                                                                  (Nell from Ashwood School)


The honour board behind us carries so many names – they are all people we never met.

But they lived in this area, in the houses that some of you may now live in.

All of them left from here to serve in the war in Egypt, Gallipoli and the Western Front across France and Belgium.

They gave up their normal lives and many did not come home.

We remember them today and now honour them all with the laying of wreaths. 

2016 Anzac Day Dawn Service Address by Damien Gardiner, Past President of the Surrey Hills Progress Association. 

We gather here in the pre-dawn of 25 April 2016 as our way of paying homage to the human selflessness that defines so many of our forebears.

At this moment, our nation is pausing to remember the sacrifice made by so many as the ultimate down payment for the liberties and privileges we now all too often take for granted.  We take them for granted because, for many of us, it is only on occasions such as this that we reflect upon how much has been risked, and how much has been suffered, to ensure their survival.

The slight discomfort we may have experienced in making this pilgrimage is dwarfed by what must have been the all-consuming feelings of fear, trepidation, anticipation and terror at what lay ahead of the ANZACs as they waded across the foreboding waters of the Gallipoli peninsula, 101 years ago.  And Gallipoli is but one of the countless fields of battle on which brave, selfless and inspiring soldiers have placed themselves at the mercy of the enemy, the fate of historyand the alter of freedom.

This Dawn Service here in Surrey Hills is at a location far removed in time and place from those theatres of war where Australia has made its contribution, whether they be Gallipoli, Fromelles, Singapore, Timor Leste, Iraq or Afghanistan, to name some.

In gathering at this Shrine and Cenotaph, we turn our minds to a uniquely Australian aspect of the sacrifice we are here to remember.  Despite the contribution Australia has made in almost every major war since its birth as a nation, it has never suffered the type and scale of direct threat endured by our allies.  However, this has never diminished Australia’s willingness to reach out to those subjected to the threats of tyranny, despotism and subversion.

Australia has always done its share of heavy lifting in advancing the cause of freedom.  It has been there in response to the challenges to the foundations of our modern society which have been at such profound peril.  We have been defined by young men and women who have served the noblest of causes, and advanced the interests of human dignity, freedom, justice, equality and egalitarianism.

And of course, it’s the very human experience in advancing these values that brings us together.  To express our perpetual gratitude for those brave men and women, whether they be fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers or sisters, who have placed the interests of liberty ahead of their own.

It is opportune to try in our own way to place ourselves in the position of those who, in turn, placed themselves at great danger.  To try and understand what it was like to be there.  For it is in doing this that we can begin to recognise the enormity of the raw human sacrifice that our defence personnel have taken.

Perhaps the best way to do this is through the eyes of one who was there.  The words of Private Mervin Spencer, a soldier involved in Naval Operations in the Dardanelles, give us a glimpse into the eyes and hearts of both he and his brothers in arms.  After hours of bearing stretchers strapped with the wounded and dying, suffering indescribable exhaustion, he had the following experience:

Then a shrapnel burst right overhead and one man started screaming.  I made my way over the stretchers to help him but could do nothing as he had a piece of hot shrapnel buried in his groin – his agonising screams became lower and lower, then I knew he had passed on and thanked God for that. 

Let us place ourselves there for a moment.  Let us try to imagine the fear, longing for home and yearning for the comfort and safe embrace of their families, including here in Surrey Hills, as they submitted themselves to the unrelenting onslaught.

Let us place ourselves, as best we can, on the field of battle, surrounded by gunfire, artillery, shrapnel.  Where those young soldiers could not have fully appreciated that history alone would know how their efforts would be recognised, history alone would know how they would be rewarded, and history alone would judge their endeavours.

Let us reflect on the extraordinary personal qualities required to motivate a young person to place themselves at such peril, perhaps not knowing that even if they suffered no physical harm, their mental health was at risk.  Knowing that they would never return to what they left behind, even though some may be lucky to return home.  Knowing that by taking their place in history, they were almost certainly leaving behind the lives that they loved and cherished.  We know they must have loved and cherished those lives, because they were willing to risk it all to protect them, if not for themselves, then certainly for us.

Let us also remember the suffering of those left behind.  The mother’s anguish as her young newly-enlisted son walks out the front door of their house in Kent Road, Surrey Hills, very possibly for the last time.  The father’s competing emotions of pride at the dedication of his son, and anxiety at the horror that lay before him.  The envy of the brother too young to enlist, replaced by a lifetime of sadness over the ultimate loss of his big best mate.  The perpetual hollowness, and the feeling of not knowing, that will always reside in the heart of the newborn baby girl, whose father paid the ultimate price for her freedom on the other side of the world.

This sacrifice continues today.  The personnel of our Defence Force are the contemporary touch bearers of the ANZAC legacy.  We are grateful for their dedication and sacrifice, for placing their devotion to country ahead of all else.

This day is about our nation remembering that individual Australian, who was prepared to make the most profound personal sacrifice.  We express our eternal gratitude.

Damien Gardiner

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