All about mates, country

REMEMBRANCE Day carried added poignancy for the Border’s top soldier who is soon to serve in Afghanistan for the first time.

Colonel Andrew Adams, the commandant of the Army Logistics Training Centre, will complete his three-year posting at Bandiana on November 30 and fly to Afghanistan in January.

He will work at NATO headquarters in Kabul, distributing supplies and maintaining equipment.

Yesterday in Colonel Adams’ final public engagement on the Border, he addressed the 300 who gathered for Remembrance Day at Albury’s cenotaph in QEII Square.

“The first World War was supposed to end all wars,” he told a crowd that included Albury MP Greg Aplin and mayor Alice Glachan.

“The 94 years since the armistice bear eloquent and sad testimony to how illusory that hope was.

“Albury’s Own 2nd/23rd Battalion had losses of 308 dead and 773 wounded during World War II.

The last Border-based member of the 2nd/23rd, Ken Bartel, who lives at a Wodonga aged care home and will turn 87 next month, watched on.

Colonel Adams acknowledged the soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 11 years.

He said the ideals of “mates and country” guided soldiers, sailors and airmen and those traits were as relevant today as they had ever been.

“This is evidenced by the actions of our most recent Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal Dan Keighran, who was willing to lay down his life by making himself a target so his mates could be carried to safety from the field of battle,” he said.

“These are acts that are beyond the glorification of war. They are testament to the character of the Australian Digger.

“They are a reminder of the price that has been paid more recently by the 39 Australians killed in the Middle East.”

Nearly 30 wreathes were laid on behalf of veterans.

Mr Bartel joined Scots School prefect and year 11 student Catherine Sloane to lay one of them.

For Catherine, a boarder from Finley, it was a chance to tie her school’s connection to the 2nd/23rd, through the custodianship of the battalion’s flags and colours, to life today.

“It was nice to meet Ken as someone who experienced that time,” Catherine said at the service.

“It was special because I’m not from Albury and I’ve never been to a service here before.”

Colonel Andrew Adams honoured the memory of Australia’s fallen in his keynote speech. Pictures: BEN EYLES

Colonel Andrew Adams honoured the memory of Australia’s fallen in his keynote speech. Pictures: BEN EYLES