Keeping the Anzac spirit alive

Standing on the beaches of Gallipoli on Anzac Day last year, watching the sun rise over Chunuk Bair with around 30,000 others, is a moment etched forever in Richard Crandons memory.

The 60-year-old from Ballina, whose father Lionel served during WWII in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo, joined 20 other members of Lismores 41st Battalion on the historic trek to Anzac Cove.

By pure chance, Richard found himself standing beside his cousin Bob Moss on that cold morning, and together they watched quietly as the sun rose over the headland where more than 8000 Australian soldiers lost their lives. Later they climbed atop Chunuk Bair, where the Anzacs made their last stand against the Turks.

To stand on the ground where 200 to 300 Australians were killed in just a few short hours was deeply moving the spirits are still there, and the feeling of death is palpable, said Richard. It is holy ground. It is something every Australian should experience.

Since their fateful meeting at Anzac Cove, Richard and Bob have vowed to continue journeying to the many historic sites Australian war veterans consider sacred. This Saturday, Richard and Bob will leave for the Kokoda Track, which is particularly poignant for the two men, as both their fathers served at Milne Bay one of the first places Australians thwarted a major Japanese attack.

Next year, they intend to visit Hellfire Pass on the infamous Burma Railway, where 2710 Australians were among the 120,000 Allied POWs who died working as slave labour for the Japanese. Richard and Bobs uncle Bob Gunthorpe, from Casino, was one of the men who lost their lives.

My father was an army colonel and while he never glorified war he talked about it a lot, and it becomes part of your life, Richard said. I am a pacifist myself, but these events are part of our history and its something I want to do as an Australian.

While Richard never saw active service himself, the former army reservist has a deep respect for the men who fought and died, in all wars, to preserve Australias freedom. This supreme sacrifice is something Richard believes no Australian should ever forget.

Anzac Day is a solemn day to remember those men who laid down their lives, Richard said. Its important to keep that history alive and to teach our children the depth of significance Anzac Day holds in shaping our nation.

Anzac Day services are being held in most local towns next Tuesday, April 25. For full details of services see page 8.

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