COMMEMORATION: Miles RSL sub-branch president John Green.
COMMEMORATION: Miles RSL sub-branch president John Green. Brooke Duncan

The Anzac spirit lives on in 2019

THE Australian identity is innately tied to the Anzac legend. It embodies the ideals of courage, mateship and resourcefulness which have permeated our culture for more than 100 years.

As we pay tribute to all those who have served, it's time to reflect once again.

This week the Chinchilla News spoke to three men who dedicated part of their lives to serving their country, to hear their stories and find out what April 25 means to them.

For 72-year-old Vietnam veteran Murray Travis, his story began in New Zealand when he was called up for national service at only 18.

Ten years later he joined the regular army and served an 18-month tour in Vietnam.

"It was a very eye-opening situation,” Mr Travis said.

"The war was a lot different as far as any other war is concerned.

"You weren't too sure who the enemy was and some of the things that happened over there, I think a lot of the vets would like to forget about.

"You respected who you were fighting with, you relied on them to watch your back.”

Since his return and his move to Australia, Mr Travis has been active in various RSLs, including the Chinchilla branch where he holds the position of president.

He said he was pleased to see the Chinchilla community's support of the commemoration and servicemen, especially when it was not the case everywhere.

"I'm a little bit disappointed and probably ashamed to hear that some Anzac services are being cancelled because of the situation around the country,” he said.

"It's a shame to see that.”

Chinchilla RSL president Murray Travis.
Chinchilla RSL president Murray Travis. Brooke Duncan

Meanwhile, for Miles RSL sub-branch president and national serviceman John Green, Anzac Day marks an opportunity to show respect for the sacrifices of all past soldiers.

"We can only try to imagine what they did in the First World War when they landed at Gallipoli,” MrGreen said.

"They landed them in the wrong place and then they fought their way ashore and some of them didn't even get off the boat 'cause they were shot before they got off the boat.”

Mr Green said the spirit of the Anzac was something that "flows on through anyone that's been in the service”.

Service can even become something of a family tradition, as is the case for Chinchilla's Chris Wansbury, who joined the Royal Australian Navy as an apprentice at the age of 16.

"I come from a long history of naval service in my family,” he said.

"My grandfather on my mother's side was eventually a commander in the Royal Navy but he was also a recipient of the George Cross during the Second World War, and my father was also a wartime commission during the Second World War.

"My mother was also in the Royal Marines at the very end of the war, where she met my father.”

The family came to Australia in 1967 and, after two years of school, MrWansbury continued the tradition.

"I'd always planned to join the navy when I finished school, ever since I was a little tiny kid,” he said.

"And the tradition goes on. My son served in the Australian Army. My daughter is still a lieutenant in the Australian submarine fleet.”

Together, the four generations have 75-plus years of service.

Both Mr Wansbury and Mr Travis highlighted how public perception of returned servicemen and Anzac Day had changed through the years.

"When I joined during the Vietnam war, the way service people were treated was pretty abysmal,” MrWansbury said.

"But over the years things have changed so much that now there's a significant respect and also the armed services treats its people so much better than it did way back when.

"There's a genuine respect and a genuine appreciation nowadays of the sacrifices service people make.”

Mr Travis agreed.

"A lot of the people coming back from that era are still suffering and their treatment when they came back was a lot different from people coming back from other wars,” he said.

"They were sort of pushed to the background and I think even today you won't get too many vets telling their stories.

"But, in saying that, we need to strongly honour them and recognise their service and we need to recognise and give our support.”

Nonetheless, he had one very important thing to say: "The spirit of Anzac is alive.”


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