A poppy for my poppy

Touch­ing salute on Re­mem­brance Day

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN REGINA TITELIUS

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

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