A solemn ceremony took place by the war memorial at Melbost outside the gates of Stornoway Airport today (Wednesday April 25th) to mark Anzac Day, a key date in the history of Australia and New Zealand.
The event took place because 30 members and two helicopters from the Australian Navy are on exercise for two or three weeks with NATO partners based at the airport. The Australians were joined by local veterans and representatives of local uniformed organisations. Also present at the ceremony was Commander Jon Holroyd, the Commanding Officer of 820 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy, which is hosting 816 Squadron.
Lieutenant pilot Dave Barlow led the ceremony on behalf of Commander Anthony Savage who heads 816 Squadron.
Dave Barlow said they wanted to emphasise the ties between the UK and Australia – it was far more important than references to convicts or who retains the Ashes. In his address during the service or remembrance he pointed out the enormous impact of the Gallipoli campaign in World War One which Anzac Day marks. He recalled that Stornoway airport had been the base for anti-submarine operations across the North Atlantic in 1942-45.
He outlined the aims and losses of the campaign at Gallipoli and spoke of how the casualties suffered and the heroism and courage displayed had impacted on the public at the time, with even greater numbers enlisting as volunteers. And also how the bravery of the Australian forces had been praised by their allies, and noted, too, by their enemy, the Turks.
Commander Savage said: “Anzac Day is perhaps the most important day in Australia’s calendar. It’s the day that marks our young nation at its foundation and has shaped who we are as a nation since then.” He pointed out the Ross Mountain Battery, which had many men from Stornoway and the surrounding area in its ranks, had also played a role at Gallipoli and that 816 Squadron was involved in anti-submarine warfare as the air base in Stornoway had been.
Commander Savage assumed Command of 816 Squadron on 30 January 2017. Commander Savage is a Qualified Aviation Warfare Instructor and a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College.