On Friday April 25, Australians and New Zealanders, along with other ex -servicemen, rose early for an ANZAC Day dawn service in South Sound.
The event commemorates the First World War battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey – a bloody campaign that would eventually claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of young allied and Turkish troops.
For Australians and New Zealanders, the day is one of the most revered on their national calendars – a day when military casualties and veterans from all wars are remembered.
Stephen Hall-Jones, who served with the British Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers in the 60’s and 70’s, came to pay his respects to earlier members of his regiment that fought at Gallipoli.
‘It’s of particular importance to the Australian’s and New Zealanders, but I think it’s also important for everyone who was involved in that campaign, to remember not only that campaign, but those that have fallen in every theatre of conflict since, right up to the present day,’ he said.
After the service, it was back to the rugby club for some breakfast and a chance to catch up. There Caycompass.com spoke with one of the organisers of the service, attorney Stuart Diamond.
‘I’ve been here for 11 years, and I think it was about nine years ago that I started having a brief ceremony at the South Sound Dock,’ Mr. Diamond explained.
Mr. Diamond was asked about the significance of the medals he had brought with him to the service.
‘These are my father’s medals from World War Two,’ he said. ‘This is the Australian Service Medal; this is the Pacific Star; and this is the 1939 to 1945 Campaign Medal, and these were awarded to service men and women who fought in various theatres of war.
‘Significantly, dad fought in the Pacific, and that’s why he’s got the Pacific Star and you can see there, GRI, [which means] George, King, Emperor – George the Sixth – who was in the reign at the time.’
Mr. Diamond said his father had never wore the medals publically. ‘He never wore the medals to my knowledge; he certainly never wore them publically. He used to give them to me to wear at ANZAC day ceremonies when I was a kid going to school and when I was first at an ANZAC Day dawn service, when I was three years old, so the whole day has an impressive significance to me.’
He agreed the day also provided a special opportunity for Australians and New Zealanders living in the Cayman Islands to get together. ‘It provides us an opportunity to touch base. And it’s really pleasing to see the new generation coming through, and they bring their kids down.
‘The children coming down is always very touching to me because, as a lad at my father’s side, as a three-year-old at my first dawn service, it means more to me to see the youngsters coming down.
‘We had a good turn out this morning; a lot of youngsters as well.’
In recent years, the ANZAC Day has seen increasing levels of support, and it looks like the events will continue to be observed in Cayman.
‘I hope it never fades in popularity,’ Mr. Diamond said. ‘You’ve got to remember that these people gave their lives for us. It’s a commitment.
‘I have had some people say to me, ‘ 5 am is very early’, and I’ve said ‘well they don’t fight wars between 9 am and 5pm.’ These people got up early so that you can enjoy the freedoms you’re enjoying.’