Cordell Dean and Nicholas Hall
Cordell Dean and Nicholas Hall.

With ANZAC Day recognised at the end of the school holidays this year, local schools are getting in early with their ceremonies, remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Monday's event at Penola Catholic College was coordinated by history teacher Nicholas Hall, whose personal connection to the day made it even more significant.

Hall has countless family members who were involved in both the major conflicts of WWI and WWII.

With his interest in the wars from an early age being the gateway to him becoming a history teacher in the first place, it's not a surprise that it was in his own research that he found a greater connection to Gallipoli through his great great uncle.

Penola Catholic College students during ANZAC remembrance

"Many years ago, I visited ANZAC Cove, and it felt different, and I think I realised that it felt different because although I didn't realise at the time, I had a family member who had been killed at Gallipoli," he said.

"My great great uncle died on the 19th of May at what I believe to be a place called Johnston's Jolly, and he was killed in the Turkish counterattack.

"That particular battle is one of the battles that leads to this amazing truce, where both the sides come out and they bury the dead... in mass graves in no man's land."

It's for this reason that Hall's great great uncle has no named grave, his name rather attached to that of his great grandfather's in Waverley so that his family had something to visit.

Year 10 student Cordell Dean also has a family history in the Australian Defence Force, which encouraged him to get involved himself as a Navy cadet three years ago. One of the things he's been able to do as part of this is learn the bugle.

"First, my commanding officer wanted me to learn 'The Last Post' on the guitar, because he knew that I played the guitar, so I did that. Then, I was just talking to my parents one day and we were thinking 'Why not the bugle?', because it would be awesome to be able to play it on the bugle. We bought a cheap one, and I just started teaching myself," he said.

Cordell Dean playing the bugle

Though he's played it at cadets' events before, Monday's ceremony was the first time he'd played it at a school event, with Cordell commending himself on having the courage to do so.

Adding that ANZAC Day is incredibly important to him, Cordell said that he's looking forward to spending the day with his fellow Navy cadets.

"We'll be doing the dawn service in Penrith, and then we'll go off into the city and do the city march with all the contingents, so that's always a good day," he said.

He's also encouraging others to go out and do the same if they can.

"A lot of people will say 'Oh, I don't want to wake up that early', but people have died so that we are able to wake up that early. I think once a year, waking up nice and early is nothing compared to what they've done," he said.

"I definitely encourage people to go out and, even if you can't make it out to the dawn service, try and get into the city, or any local service that's held throughout the day to show your respect to all the people who have fought for us."

Hall agreed with the sentiment, adding that there are also plenty of other ways to acknowl- edge the sacrifices of those who fought at Gallipoli, but also those who have fought, and continue to fight, in modern wars, if you can't make it out.

"Watch some war documentaries, educate yourself on the realities of it, go to the RSL if you're old enough. Do it in your own way," he said.

"The dawn service is the standard, but you can find your own way to do it."


Written By

The Western Weekender

The Western Weekender
Penrith's leading provider of local news and community updates.

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