|The Australian Army put
its best foot forward on March 10, 2001 when more than 1000 soldiers and
veterans marched in the nation’s capital in a spectacular show of
force to mark the Centenary of Army.
It was far more than just a military
march-past, however, with colourfully choreographed sequences and
historical segments highlighting the role of the army in serving the
nation from South Africa to East Timor and beyond.
Of particular note was the recognition
paid to the immense sacrifice made by generations of Australians in war
and the high price the nation has paid for peace and freedom.
The almost two-hour parade was the
national focus for the army’s 100th birthday, bringing together men
and women, young and old, soldiers past and present from across the
Every major unit and all corps were
represented — from the smallest army reserve unit in rural Australia
to the active brigades protecting our north.
Every Colour, Standard, Banner and
Guidon currently in service, parading together for the first time since
the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, added to the sense of occasion.
An RMC honour guard, Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander troops conducting traditional warrior dances,
heritage troops showcasing the army of old, massed bands, vehicles and
aircraft added to the spectacle.
As a huge crowd of spectators gathered
along Anzac Parade and in front of the AWM, a pipers’ lament, signifying
the sorrow of lives lost in service of the nation, set a somber mood.
The Army Banner, a birthday gift from
the people of Australia, was marched into position and placed on the
Stone of Remembrance shortly before the parade proper commenced under
the command of Maj-Gen Peter Leahy.
|Centenary Of Army commemorative penny
RAE Centenary Medallion. 1902 - 2002
The RAE medallion is still sealed with the centenary
card with which it was issued. The medallions were issued only to
serving members of the RAE at the time. Approximately 2500 medallions
"The Centenary Year of the Royal Australian
Engineers provides Sappers everywhere with the opportunity to pause and
reflect upon where we have come from, where we are and where we are going.
The Corps was raised on the 1st of July 1902 and was well established by
the outbreak of WW1. Since that time the Corps has earned its enviable
reputation as skilled journeymen, capable of fighting well above our
Parade host Lt-Gen Peter Cosgrove
welcomed the Prime Minister and Governor General on parade before
inviting them to inspect the Guard of Honour. With all in readiness, the
pomp and circumstance of one of the biggest, most colourful and most
significant military parades in recent years stepped off.
Led by soldiers in the uniforms of the
mounted troops of the Boer War and WW1, the procession showcased the
uniforms of all conflicts up to the present.
Next came the Colours, Banners and
Guidons. These most precious insignia, inscribed with the campaign and
battle honours of their units, represent the soul of each unit or
regiment and of their heroes killed in action.
Once assembled, the colour parties,
heritage troops and four full guards performed a massed Royal Salute
while Black Hawk, Iroquois and Kiowa helicopters from the Army’s
Aviation Regiments flew low overhead.
As a tribute to the service of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in peace and war, indigenous
soldiers from 51FNQR performed The Steyr Dance — a traditional spear
dance adapted by the soldiers to incorporate their Steyr rifles.
For the first time, an indigenous soldier also played a didgeridoo as a
tribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have defended,
and continue to defend, the nation.
Prime Minister John Howard said that
as the nation celebrated this great year of centenary we would mark and
honour many things but there was no group in Australian society to whom
more was owed than to those who had fought, died and suffered in the
defence of this country.
“We come today to give thanks as a
nation to what the personnel of the Australian Army over the past 100
years has done to give us the life, the peace, the security and the
contentment we now, as a nation, enjoy,” Mr. Howard said.
He said the great Australian military tradition was not one of brutality
or triumphalism but was a tradition of being willing to sacrifice all in
the cause of freedom.
“Let me thank all of you, the men
and women of the Australian Army, for what you have done. And let me
give you a pledge on behalf of all of the peoples of Australia - you
will always be honoured, you will always be respected and you will
always have a very special place in the hearts and in the minds of our
Governor General Sir William Dean then
presented the new Army Banner to RSM-A WO Pedro Rosemond on behalf of a
grateful nation as a symbol of sacrifice, loyalty and devotion to duty
in the service of Australia.
“Your Excellency, on behalf of a
grateful army, we accept this banner with pride and honour. And to you
and to all Australians I say, on behalf of all diggers — thanks
mate,” WO Rosemond said in reply, to the delight of the huge crowd.
After the banner was marched into
position on the parade ground, the four full guards on parade fired
volleys in the ripple-effect drill movement known as Fieu de Joie or Joy
As the last rifle fired, artillery
answered with a 19-gun salute before the massed army bands rendered
Happy Birthday in deference to the whole intent of the parade.
Lt-Gen Cosgrove then invited official
guests to join him in laying wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,
bringing the parade to an end with the reminder that our young nation
has paid a great price for its freedom.
March 15, 2001
from ARMY News