JEWISH naval officer Lieutenant David Chapman has spoken to The AJN of his pride at participating in the Centenary of Anzac commemorations late last month.
Chapman was among the sailors welcoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott on board the HMAS Anzac before the commemorations in Gallipoli.
While stationed in the Aegean Sea close to the Turkish Peninsula, the PM joined the frigate on Friday, April 24 where he congratulated the sailors and officers for representing Australia in the commemorative events.
“Mr Abbott made a big effort to get on board Anzac and to spend time with the crew,” said Chapman.
He added, “I felt like he was genuinely proud of us, and happy to enjoy a breakfast with the crew.”
The Melbourne local said the Centenary of Anzac on April 25 was particularly poignant and described it as the “highlight” of his naval career.
“The most solemn moment was at dawn on Anzac Day. We in Anzac lined the side of the ship in stillness and silence as the ship sailed past Anzac Cove just as the sun rose.”
As deputy weapons engineer officer, Chapman said it was a unique privilege to play a small part in the history of the “Anzac spirit”.
“Gallipoli is an important milestone of Australian and New Zealand history, playing a special role in defining what has become known as the Anzac Spirit. To be able to play a small part in this history was special.”
He said the ship paid special tribute to the sailors of the Australian submarine AE2, which sank on April 30, 1915.
Outlining the role of the RAN at Gallipoli during the First World War, Chapman said, “Although Gallipoli is rightly remembered for the efforts and sacrifices of the many Australian soldiers who fought there, there is an important Navy aspect to the Centenary of Anzac.
“The Royal Australian Navy was ‘first in and last out’ of Gallipoli, with the submarine HMAS AE2 being the first Allied vessel to break through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara, in the early hours of April 25, 1915, setting the scene for the landings at Gallipoli a few short hours later.
“When the Allied forces withdrew from Gallipoli in December that year, the RAN Bridging Train was among the last to leave. In the interim, the RAN transported many soldiers to and from the shores of Gallipoli.”
Lieutenant David Chapman with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on board the HMS Anzac.