Family's military tradition honours sacrifice
"WE come to honour those who did sacrifice,” returned serviceman Gordon Forsyth said during Peak Crossing's Anzac Day commemoration.
Gordon, 79 now, retired and enjoying life on the Gold Coast served in the RAAF since his teens, working as an engineer. He comes from military stock that have heritage going back to Northern Ireland, anchored in Peak Crossing.
His dads and uncles famously served in the First World War. His uncle Percy Forsyth was the first to serve, at age 18 the young man left Peak Crossing, donned fatigues and trooped through Mesopotamia, Persia, Kurdistan and Russia, providing communications for the British and Indian Cavalry against the Turks.
His father, Stan Forsyth joined the war effort in September 1916 in the 24th Machine Gun Company, 47th Battalion, 12th Brigade, 4th Division AIF.
"When I grew up of course I was quite exposed to involvement with the services because of my father's history,” Gordon said.
"When the war broke out in 1915, he was 19-20, but at that stage the priority was for farmers to keep their farms going.”
"(Dad) being the oldest he was probably the only one capable of working the farm. I'm not sure if the Army didn't want him or the grandfather didn't want him to go but it wasn't until the week he turned 21 he joined up.”
Gordon's dad, Stan saw action at Ypres, Passchendaele, Some, Armentieres, Hill 60 and was finally captured at the Battle of Dernancourt in April, 1918.
The family returned from war, all a bit different than they were before. They settled in Peak Crossing again before moving over to Rosewood. One of the Forsyth brood even bought back the family farm not so long ago.
Gordon himself served in Malaya from 1964 to 1966 in Two Squadron as an engine fitter, and again with the Army Aviation regiment, where he had two peace keeping missions in Papua New guinea in 1967 and 1968.
"I flew all over New Guinea as the aircraft required, it was really interesting and liked the idea of going there to work, when I got discharged that's what I did,” he said.
Mr Forsyth started his own aircraft maintenance business and worked in PNG in total for 18 years before moving back to Australia.
As the birds begin to chirp before Dawn Service, Gordon reflects on the meaning of the day and his father's capture.
"I can understand how he felt... being an ex-serviceman myself you think at times like this, 'Well, what did I do, really?' I did a lot of things but not like in real battle,” he said.
"Those guys... how they suffered and what they went through, they put their lives on the line and knew that where a lot of servicemen of course work virtually in support of those guys.
"That's the way you feel about this sort of thing. We come here to honour those who did sacrifice, not so much to stand up and be proud of what we did, but to be proud of what they did.
"(My dad) put his life on the line, he could have been killed quite easily. He did suffer a bit from gas because the Germans did use gas shells when they were bombarding.
"But on the other hand I don't know why he didn't talk about it... he saw a lot of things because he was in quite a few battles before he was captured.”
His words are left with commemorators as wreathes are laid and the sun rises on the 300-strong service.
Gordon helps plant a Lone Pine, grafted from the tree at Gallipoli to inaugurate Peak Crossing's first service as the sizzle of a gunfire breakfast wafts through hungry commemorators, along with the memories of the fallen. Lest We Forget.