Comrades in arms across the years

2 May 2013

0061: Group photo at Chunuk Bair - (L - R) Chaplain Rewai Te Kahu, SGT Stephen  Pickering, LAC Jess Dornbusch, SGT Bex Dymock, SGT Wai Paenga.

0061: Group photo at Chunuk Bair - (L - R) Chaplain Rewai Te Kahu, SGT Stephen Pickering, LAC Jess Dornbusch, SGT Bex Dymock, SGT Wai Paenga.

They left as strangers and returned home friends after paying tribute to those who had fallen in Gallipoli.

Base Ohakea's SGT Wai Paenga and LAC Jess Dornbusch and Linton Camp's SGT Stephen Pickering, SGT Bex Dymock and Chaplain Rewai Te Kahu recently met for the first time prior to leaving for the Anzac Day commemorations in Gallipoli, Turkey.

Like their relatives who had served at Gallipoli they did not know each other prior to leaving and they all had a common cause. Unlike their relatives the Defence Force staff would all return home safely.

Each year the Defence Force sends a small contingent to Gallipoli to provide ceremonial and musical support to two services on the peninsula. The first is a combined Anzac Day Dawn Service with the Australians. The second is a late morning New Zealand service at Chunuk Bair.

All said it was a privilege to represent the Defence Force at the 98th Anzac Day commemorations and something they would always treasure.

SGT Paenga, a veteran herself who has served in both Timor Leste and Afghanistan, had her great-uncle Remana Paenga serve in Gallipoli. He was one of the luckier ones who survived WWI and returned to Gisborne.

Charles Rangiwawahia Sciascia, LAC Jessica Dornbusch's great-great-uncle made it through the Gallipoli campaign only to die later in 1917 on the Western Front in Belgium.

SGT Paenga said it was a huge honour to take part in the Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli and for her it reinforced why we (the Defence Force) are here.

"Those who have passed gave us a purpose and it is right we should remember those brave warriors who have perished."

Like their sisters-in-arms from the Air Force the Army team all had relatives who served at Gallipoli. They too have seen operational service in Afghanistan and/or Timor Leste.

Private Martin Persson, SGT Bex Dymock's great-great-uncle was the youngest Kiwi known to die at Gallipoli, he was 17.

"I knew Martin was at Chunuk Bair and I was able to visit his grave site several times while we were there. Each time I laid a poppy on his grave," said SGT Bex Dymock.

While never landing at Gallipoli, SGT Stephen Pickering's relative, William Pickering was a medic on board the HT MARQUETTE. He tended to those who were wounded at Gallipoli on the ship. William Pickering was killed when his ship was torpedoed on 23 October 1915.

For Chaplain Te Kahu the day the contingent visited the cemeteries of the fallen is etched in his mind.

"I always knew about my two great-great-uncles who had died at Gallipoli and it was only on the day we flew out to Gallipoli that I got a call to where they had been buried," he said.

"One had died at Lone Pine and one was buried at Chunuk Bair."

The night before the Dawn Service the NZDF contingent spent the night on the peninsula with the many thousands of young Kiwis and Australians who had travelled to be there. Leading up to the service they watched movies and documentaries that showed what happened in the eight month ill-fated campaign.

As the dawn broke and the service began SGT Paenga's voice pierced the air starting the karanga and acknowledging all those who were lying at Gallipoli.

SGT Pickering summed it up for the contingent when he said," To be at the place where the Anzac tradition started is special. To participate in the commemorative services was an honour and to have family who have gone before us makes it an occasion we will never forget."


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This page was last reviewed on 9 May 2013.