On 9 November, the St Patrick’s College History Club staged a special Remembrance Day ceremony to mark the centenary of the Armistice. The Club received an Armistice Centenary Grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and had worked since March creating all the decorations and multimedia that were on display. The focus of the ceremony was also on the Anzacs of Macarthur and commemorating the four local World War I servicemen located in the Congregational Cemetery adjacent to the College. We were fortunate to have the Campbelltown World War I Roll of Honour Boards on display, kindly lent by the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society.
Chloe C playing The Last Post
Over 60 guests were in attendance, including Dr Mike Freelander MP, Federal Member for Macarthur, Ms Leslie Castledine representing the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Maralyn Newman of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Cr George Brticevic, Mayor of Campbelltown, Cr Peter Sidgreaves, Mayor of Camden, Mr Ken Foster OAM JP, National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, Mr Graham Toll, Ingleburn RSL Sub-Branch, Mr David Olsson, Chairman, Campbelltown Catholic Club, Margaret and Kevin Rixon, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Association, Squadron Leader Robert Vine and representatives from the Australian Air Force Cadets including Ben Gough, Mr Andrew Allen, Local Studies Librarian, Campbelltown Library and past staff of St Patrick’s.
Our guest speaker was ex-student, FLTLT Brittany Lovett (nee Levett) of the RAAF who captivated our students with her speech on why we must remember the fallen. She shared her experiences in combat and spoke about her recent deployment to Afghanistan. Brittany also gave her time to speak to members of the History Club and Air Cadets after the ceremony. The girls were enthralled by Brittany’s experiences.
Every student in the College contributed to the ceremony in some way. Each student made their own felt poppy in homeroom which they wore on the day. All students and staff also wrote a message of hope and thanks on wooden commemorative crosses from the Australian War Memorial. These crosses will be returned to the Australian War Memorial where they will be sent overseas to be placed on war graves and memorials where Australian servicemen and women are buried in countries such as Turkey, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece, South Africa and the Middle East. The Knitting Club had also been involved making crocheted/knitted red poppies which were cascaded from the stage backdrop. Special thanks goes to grandmothers Pam Poole and Jan Vacchini who made many of the poppies.
The ceremony began with the Acknowledgement of Country read out by sisters Bianca R and Monique R. St Patrick’s College students who are members of the Australian Air Force Cadets, Caroline A, Christabelle A, Naina N, Neha N and Mackenzie M formed a Colour Party and marched into the ceremony indicating the beginning of the formalities. A multimedia by Caroline A (Year 10) entitled What is the Armistice? then played, with Acting College Principal, Mrs Karen Wright giving the Welcome Address. Cr George Brticevic, Mayor of Campbelltown and Cr Peter Sidgreaves, Mayor of Camden and students Ashleigh K, Emma F, Kaitlyn M and Dryandra M were involved in the Prayers of Remembrance.
A special tribute to the Anzacs of Macarthur was the next part of the ceremony, with Zara H introducing sisters Mackenzie M (who just returned from her Anzac Ambassador Program) and Tess M who gave a moving tribute to their great-great- uncle William Lyttle King. We were fortunate that the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society brought in the actual flying helmet of William Lyttle King. This was concluded by a multimedia presentation called The Anzacs of Macarthur Honour Roll by Olivia L and Layla E of Year 8.
A special highlight of the ceremony was the reading of an actual letter written in France during World War I. Jaimee-Lee C of Year 7 introduced Mrs Margaret Rixon from the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society who read out a letter about the death of her great uncle, Oswald Gallagher written by Bert Greathead (who died some months later). It is a sad and poignant letter and gave insight into the human toll of World War I.
Mary K and Breanna T of Year 7 gave a brief history of the poppy and why it is worn as a symbol of remembrance. The Year 9 Elective Music class led the congregation in the singing of ‘In Flanders Field’ led by Mrs Elizabeth Samyia.
It was important in this ceremony for students to connect to World War I. Many members of the History Club have been researching their World War I ancestors over the past year. Jarian H of Year 10 introduced Abbey C of Year 7 who spoke of her great great uncle, Patrick Bugden VC and read out his citation for the Victoria Cross. Students Chloe C (Year 10), Bianca P (Year 10), Olivia L (Year 8), Molly Q (Year 8) and staff Mrs Michelle Parker, Mrs Katherine Power and Mrs Jackie Irwin shared the stories of their World War I ancestors.
‘We Will Remember’, a multimedia presentation by Caroline A (Year 10) documented the work of the History Club over the past months preparing for the ceremony. It also included girls from the College holding up the word ‘Remember’ in their cultural languages.
The wreath ceremony then took place narrated by Emily P (Year 10) and Ysabelle O (Year 7). The first wreath was presented by Dr Mike Freelander MP, Federal Member for Macarthur on behalf of the Parliament of Australia accompanied by students Eknoor G (Year 8) and Amy W (Year 8). The second wreath was presented by Ms Leslie Castledine, representing the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Maralyn Newman on behalf of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. She was accompanied by students Nat L (Year 10) and Olivia W (Year 10). The third wreath was presented by Mr Graham Toll, on behalf of Campbelltown and Ingleburn RSL Sub Branches and represented the service of all Australian servicemen and women in all conflicts. Mr Toll was accompanied by students Stephanie N (Year 10) and Indira H (Year 10). The fourth wreath commemorated all the Aboriginal people who have served in the Australian Forces and was brought up by representatives from the Year 11/12 Aboriginal Studies class.
The final wreath was the St Patrick’s College wreath. This was on behalf of all students and staff at the College. This wreath also paid tribute to those servicemen who attended St John’s Preparatory School for Boys, which operated on this site until its closure in 1969. This wreath was brought up by Samantha S (Year 8), Chantelle G (Year 7), Stephanie M (Year 10) and Wintana G (Year 10).
A tribute to the animals of war was then read out by Amelia C (Year 8) and Abbie T (Year 7) accompanied by a poem recital– ‘Farewell Old Warhorse’ by an anonymous author, read by Sophie I (Year 10).
The Ode was read by Mr Ken Foster OAM JP, National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia. The Last Post was performed by Chloe C (Year 10) and the Flag Ceremony by the Australian Air Force Cadets. During the minute’s silence, students were asked to ponder the bookmarks on their chairs developed by Amelia A and Cecilia T. These bookmarks contained the biography of a Macarthur Anzac. After the anthems (introduced by Maria V) the Air Cadets closed the ceremony by performing the March Of the Colours. Simran L then gave the closing thanks and Brook M, Grace K and Sophia E presented FLTLT Lovett with gifts of appreciation.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests made their way down to the Gallipoli Centenary Garden where an olive tree planting took place, planted by Dr Freelander, FLTLT Lovett and the students with World War I ancestors. The olive tree was kindly donated by Downes Nursery.
After morning tea, a contingent of guests took the five wreaths to the Congregational Cemetery adjacent to the College, to be placed on the grave of Herbert Harry Kitching and the memorial stones to Frank Jenner Nicol and Stephen and James Roughley Longhurst.
Fran Musico Rullo - HSIE Teacher