Anzac Day assembly
At a special Anzac Day assembly today (Friday 27 April), staff and students heard the story of the final year of WWI and the remarkable victories secured by Australian troops. Delivered by our school leaders, the assembly focused on four BGS Old Boys, Phillip Swain, Reginald Avery, George McWade and Arthur Leslie, who gave their lives in 1918. Our School Captain also told us of the impact of this on the families left to rebuild their lives.
Both Phillip Swain and Reginald Avery fought and died in April 1918 near Villers-Bretonneux in the famous defence of Amiens. George McWade and Arthur Leslie were killed in the great push toward the Hindenburg Line in August and September. Swaine, Leslie and Avery had already lost brothers in the war and McWade had seven cousins in action.
The story of Old Boy Philip Swain was typical of the inspiring and challenging messages. Swaine was only 20 years old when he signed up. Before his 21st birthday he had won the Military Medal when he entered a dugout in the midst of bursting shells to assist a fellow soldier to safety. In 1918 he became part of the famous defence of Amiens. Swaine’s actions were selfless. They can inspire us to think of others first and challenge us to overcome our fears.
Our school leaders spoke of how difficult it is to understand the magnitude of war and what took place between 1914 and 1918. Anzac Day is our opportunity to reflect and be grateful for our freedom, our friendships, our loved ones and our opportunities.
By the end of 1918 close to 60,000 Australians had fallen in Gallipoli, Belgium, France and the Middle East. Their sacrifice can provide many lessons.
In his closing remarks the Headmaster quoted the former Prime Minister, John Howard, who reminded us at the Gallipoli Dawn Service in 2000 that our inheritance from those soldiers is not a fallen sword or a warrior’s code. It is, rather, a heritage of personal courage and initiative. It is a determination to do what is right, regardless of the resistance we meet or the fears we hold. That is the message we can learn from their sacrifice. Their memory is ours to guard and their legacy becomes our challenge.
Thanks to all the staff and students who played a part in the Anzac Day assembly today, including our school leaders for sharing the Old Boy stories, bugler Josh Leung, wreath layers from each year level and the Grammar Vocal Ensemble and Chamber Choir for their stirring recital of the hymn and our national anthem.
The scale of WWI
Australia raised over 460,000 troops for WWI
• 59,342 died
• 152,171 were wounded
• 4,084 were taken prisoner
From Brisbane Grammar School
• 1020 enlisted to serve
• 31% of all boys enrolled in the School between 1895 and 1914 enlisted
• Half of the cohort of 1909 enlisted and 40% were killed
178 BGS Old Boys died in WWI
• One-fifth were aged 21 or under, including eight teenagers
• Half were under the age of 25
• Our youngest to die was 18, our oldest 52
• One-third of all BGS deaths occurred in 1917
• 78% of BGS boys killed were on the western front