A poppy for my poppy
Touching salute on Remembrance Day
NINTETY-NINE years after the guns fell silent on the Western Front, and in the quiet moments of contemplation ahead of yesterday’s Kings Park Remembrance Day service, five-year-old Mary-Jane De’Laney presented 86-yearold veteran William Wilson with a poppy.
Her thank you was a touching reminder of the importance of acknowledging the great debt Australia owes its servicemen and women.
Mr Wilson enlisted in the army in March 1948 and spent four weeks on unauthorised active service after following friends aboard the British HMS Bulwark during the Indonesian Confrontation in the 1960s.
“I had been sent to a British training course in what was then Malaya where I met two Royal Marines,” he said.
“When we finished we were sent to Singapore and I was meant to head home, but I decided to follow the marines on to the HMS Bulwark.
“We did a lot of damage to the Indonesians, but the Australian Chief of Infantry wasn’t impressed when he found out — he kicked my arse from here to Canberra.”
Wearing the medals of her great-grandfather, World War II veteran Eric De’Laney, Mary-Jane was at her fifth Remembrance Day service.
“She’s been to every Anzac and Remembrance Day since she was born — she was only three months at her first one,” her father John De’Laney said.
“We have a family history of military service and we come to remember those who didn’t make it back, but also to thank all the people who served and are still here today.”
Mr De’Laney, an ex-serviceman himself, said Remembrance Day was a particularly poignant time to think about the sacrifices of the more than 60,000 Australian soldiers who died during World War I.
At least a dozen of the cadets ringing the Court of Contemplation had to be escorted from Saturday’s service after succumbing to the heat, but the sun did not deter the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects.
Acting Prime Minster Julie Bishop said the minute of silence was an opportunity to reflect on all Australians who had served in the armed forces since World War I, including those serving in conflict zones today.
Rats of Tobruk veteran JJ Wade, who celebrates his 100th birthday next week, marked Remembrance Day at St George’s Cathedral alongside 20-year-old Jani-Mei Jackson, who modelled a stunning poppy dress.
The dress was created by Comet Bay College’s Claire Hunt with more than 700 poppies which she put together with the help of students from the school and Country Women’s Association members.
Ms Hunt said the dress was a tribute to the many grieving mothers, wives and daughters who had lost loved ones in war.
Poppies were also airbrushed on to Ms Jackson by Secret Harbour artist Gary Wisker, who painted two portraits of veterans at an exhibition this weekend.
For you: Mary-Jane De'Laney presents war veteran William Wilson with a poppy before yesterday’s Remembrance Service at Kings Park. Left: Governor Kerry Sanderson lays a wreath at the War Memorial. Pictures: Daniel Wilkins