Day of recognition for the sacrifices of war

BRIGHTON Mayor Tony Foster officiated at the recent Anzac Day commemorative event at Pontville. The local event was attended by servicemen and women, local residents and children from local schools as well as Brighton Girl Guides and Old Beach Scouts groups.

Cr Foster said the day was an important one that recognised the sacrifices made by men and women in past wars.

Vietnam war veteran Laurie Harrison with Mayor Tony Foster and his grand children Javier and Sophia who enjoyed their first Anzac Day Ceremony

He also thanked Fiona Hardman who organised the commemorative event at Pontville.

Here is an extract from Cr Foster’s Anzac Day speech:

“Anzac Day is about reflection, remembrance and commemoration and a day to give thanks to those who in particular made the supreme sacrifice.

So let me say something about three young men in particular: Harry Hodgman, Alan Gunn Hodgman, George and Frederick Gunn. No, not because two of them share the same surname as our new premier of Tasmania, albeit they are distant cousins, but because they were all from Brighton.

We only have to look at the many cenotaphs, memorials and honour rolls that are in our municipal buildings, churches and schools to be able to acknowledge those fromthis area who have served in theatres of war and conflict on our behalf.

Private George Frederick Gunn 52nd Battalion, Australian Army killed in action during the battle for Mouquet Farm near Pozieres in France on September 3 1916 – aged 28 years. The diaries of Sergeant Percy Nuttall talk vividly about fighting the Germans that day and how so many of the 52nd battalion boys died in battle that day. Private George Frederick Gunn wasone of them.

Corporal Alan Gunn Hodgman 52nd Battalion, Australian Army killed in action during the battle for Messines in Belgium on June 7 1917 aged 20 years. The name Corporal Alan Gunn Hodgman can be found on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres, Belgium. This memorial is dedicated to the more than 55,000 missing British and Commonwealth servicemen over 6,000 of which were Australians who died in fighting there but have no known grave. At the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres the Last Post is played at 8pm every day irrespective of the weather. Noeline and I were privileged to be there in 2010. Since November 11 1929 the only time it has not been played was when Ypres was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War from May 1940 until September 1944.

Private Harry Hodgman 5th Battalion, Australian Army killed in action at Anzac Cove on April 25 1915 aged 23 years. Lieutenant George Howard Earp wrote that Hodgman was killed while participating in one of the last advances from the beach at Anzac Cove. He had been shot through the head by a sniper at around 4.30pm, 99 years ago today. Harry Hodgman is buried at Lone Pine Cemetery, Gallipoli,Turkey.

So why have I talked about Harry Hodgman, Alan Hodgman and George Frederick Gunn? In 1854 a Congregational Church was erected on the hill in Pontville and later in 1876 it was replaced with a new Congregational Church near the Pontville Bridge. The old church on the hill eventually burned down, but the cemetery remains there today.

On headstones in the cemetery the names of these three young men are remembered along with their parents and siblings now buried there. Ninety nine years today of amazing history since that landing at Anzac Cove Gallipoli. During the eight-month campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula against the Turkish forces, Australia suffered 8700 dead, 19,000 wounded and 700 missing.

After Gallipoli Australian forces continued fighting on the Western Front in France and Belgium against the Germans in battles of the Somme, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele, Villers-Bretonneux and Fromelles, to name a few.

I know some of those places will be holding Anzac Day Commemorative Services today. Australia lost 61,513 servicemen during World War 1 and 39,649 during World War 2. A further 1622 lost their lives during other conflicts which include the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

So today we pay tribute to the 102,784 Australians who lost their lives through war, and the many more thousands who have been wounded.

We thank them.”