Cost of war
Services held to remember heroes
Karratha residents stopped for a moment last week to commemorate Remembrance Day and pay their respects to those who have served or are serving in armed conflict around the world.
While many Pilbara towns were not around during the world wars, a scattering of medals belonging to those who had served in conflicts in Asia and Africa or had lost family in World War I were present among the crowd.
Karratha and Districts RSL president Julie Pope is one of many in the City of Karratha who has had direct experience of the armed forces.
“I was a private nurse out at 1st military hospital in Yeronga, Brisbane, which was a big eye-opener being on my own away from home in my first year out of recruits,” she said.
“Brisbane at the time had a huge military component, so we were nursing guys with banged up legs, guys who had been in motorbike accidents and even some tank rollovers.
“It was really strange back then because instead of going to a normal hospital, we would look after them and take them through the whole process there.
“You saw people through from coming in a complete mess and not being able to walk to that point where they would walk out on their own feet.”
Mrs Pope said while it was as important as ever to remember what happened 100 years ago, it was important to reflect on what armed forces were going through in and after conflicts today. Jerome Caspersz grew up inthe Pilbara, where he joined the army and served with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
Mr Caspersz was deployed to East Timor in 1999 as part of the INTERFET peacekeeping force.
“We got to see the devastation and aftermath of the Indonesian occupying forces over there, which gave me a great appreciation of a
lot of the stuff we take for granted back home,” he said.
“Unlike previous conflicts, we had fairly good support through our services and were fairly well received by the public when we returned.
“I returned here with the army,
Remembrance Day wreaths laid at the Karratha and Districts RSL. was eventually discharged and got a job.”
Dampier local Brad Beaumont served in the military for 27 years and held many roles, including a 1994-95 stint in Rwanda during the genocide.
“I remember the hardships for the Africans and particularly the tribal people in how they worked in a very difficult situation,” he said. “They were always oppressed. “Some 800,000 people were killed in a three to six-month period.
“It was a rather horrific sort of sight to be over there trying to protect.”
Mr Beaumont said he and people he served with often reflected on friends they had lost in conflict on Remembrance Day.
Celeste Selten’s grandfather and father lost their lives in World Wars I and II respectively. Mrs Selten said she had not had time to ask her father about the war before he died because of the injuries he sustained.
“Not having males in my life made a big difference and I think it does for a lot of people,” she said.
“Remembrance Day is about remembering people of the war who have suffered, not just soldiers but people who were left behind, people who lost their families, it’s the young fellas coming home from Afghanistan now, the memory of what they’ve experienced never gets time to settle, so I feel for them.
“We’re still going through the same stress and having families shattered 100 years later.”
About 150 people attended the service, which included a performance from a 40-strong Karratha children’s choir.
Kim and Jerome Caspersz.