Lest we forget

ANZAC day has enormous significance for a whole nation but for those who served, it’s personal. Brisbane’s Jack Anning, a 93 year old former Rat of Tobruk and resident at Zion Lutheran Home, is still remembering.

Above: 93 year old Jack Anning from Brisbane will attend tomorrow’s Dawn Service.

ANZAC Day holds a special significance for many residents and clients of aged care providers in Australia with special ceremonies held and a huge effort made to ensure that those who served and died in war are remembered.   

Jack Anning, a resident of Zion Lutheran Home in Brisbane’s north, was one of the ‘Rats of Tobruk’. He was a foot soldier in the famous siege lasting 240 days in the western desert of North Africa during World War II.  

In the trenches around the Libyan port city of Tobruk, Mr Anning and his fellow soldiers “withstood tank attacks, artillery barrages, and daily bombings. They endured the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms.”  The tanks rolled over them and ultimately captured enemy troops in the 1941 battle which defeated German commander Ponath, who was part of Erwin Rommel’s 5th Light Brigade.

The Nundah war veteran was featured in the book, Tobruk’s Easter Battle –1941 The Forgotten Fifteenth’s Date with Rommel’s Champion by John Mackenzie-Smith (pictured here). 

McKenzie-Smith’s book recounts the remarkable story of more than 20,000 Australian troops, one of them Jack, who spent around eight months in the trenches pushing back the German army from Egypt.

As a sergeant in the 9th Australian Division, serving under the overall British commander, General Montgomery, Mr Anning later fought in the second battle of El Alamein on 23 October 1942 where allied forces broke the German ‘axis lines’, forcing the enemy back to Tunisia. 

“Winston Churchill after the war wrote, “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat”,” said Mr Anning.

Jack Anning spent five years serving in the Australian Fighting Services, including eight months in Papua New Guinea and landing at Scarlet Beach in October 1943 where many troops were killed on arrival by Japanese soldiers. 

He came back after five years unscathed but sadly, a few years after his return, he fell from a horse and has been disabled ever since. 

“I lost a lot of good friends in the wars and people back home lost sons and daughters,” he said.

“ANZAC Day is not about glorifying war; it’s about remembering those who paid the price.” 

This ANZAC Day, the former soldier will attend the Dawn Service in Brisbane’s CBD at the Shrine of Remembrance at 4.30am.

Zion Lutheran Home Manager, Maria Mulheran, said it was important to honour and celebrate important moments in history and time that are significant to residents and she felt honoured to have war veterans as residents of Zion Lutheran Home. 

“We will always assist residents to participate in and attend services and celebrations significant to their lives whether they be those we host or those in the wider community; and we ensure their transport needs are met,” said Ms Mulheran.

Today, many Zion Lutheran Home residents, staff, family members and friends attended an early ANZAC Day service in the lounge room. Some veteran residents lay wreaths and hymns were sung.  A minute’s silence was also observed as the Last Post was played as a tribute to those who fought and died for their country.

“All of our nine aged care services will host an ANZAC Day memorial service,” she said.  

“Several residents of Zion have self-published their recounts of war experiences and their digital stories will be captured online in a project called Place stories.” 

Brisbane’s ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in the city will begin at 4.30am.  The parade will begin at the corner of George and Elizabeth Streets at 10am, finishing approximately 1pm.   To find a service near you in Queensland, visit the RSL Queensland website and type in your town or suburb.  For information about ANZAC services Australia wide, see the RSL national website or the Australian War Memorial.

ABC Radio will be hosting coverage of ANZAC day events around Australia.  Click here for programming details. ABC News 24 Television will be broadcasting live coverage of ANZAC Day across Australia, including the Australian War Memorial Service from Canberra from 11:00am Wednesday, April 25 2012. There will also be a special ANZAC Day episode of Q&A with Tony Jones.  Details of ABC TV coverage here.

Tags: anzac, lutheran-community-care-queensland, rats-of-tobruk, zion-lutheran-home,

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