United Service Club Patron's Dinner
Our President, Brigadier McNab; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to join you again for this annual Patron’s Dinner.
These Dinners concentrate the mind wonderfully on the present – anticipating, with pleasure, the company of like-minded members, in the wonderful ambience of the Club’s rooms.
Tonight’s dinner is a little different, because the Honour Board I unveiled earlier tonight turns our minds to the past; and as a United Service Club by history and by ethos, our minds turn to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice during service.
Australia’s participation in both the South African War and the Korean War changed the course of our country.
The South African War – or Boer War as it was known – was Australia’s first war.
From far New Zealand's flax and fern, from cold Canadian snows,
From Queensland plains, where hot as fire the summer sunshine glows --
And in front the Lancers rode that New South Wales had sent:
With easy stride across the plain their long, lean Walers went.
Unknown, untried, those squadrons were, but proudly out they drew
Beside the English regiments that fought at Waterloo.
The Australians who fought in South Africa are widely regarded as the fathers of the ANZACs.
They fought bravely in a difficult war, and it is right that we honour our fallen members, Lieutenant James Whamond Annat, Lieutenant Lachlan John Caskey, Lieutenant John Higson and Lieutenant John Leask.
The Korean War was a profoundly different conflict, fought at the height of the Cold War. I was very moved both by the opportunity to lay a wreath at Gapyeong Memorial Site during my visit to Korea last year, and by the respectful warmth displayed to Kaye and me by the Korean people.
Air power has been identified as the single most crucial element of success in the Korean conflict.
Flight Lieutenant Ian Goodwin Swan Purssey, always known as “Bill”, was a decorated veteran of the Second World War.
He had completed 131 missions when he was shot down during a rocket attack on a ground target near Chinnampo on the 22nd of April, 1952.
Flight Lieutenant Purssey served his country faithfully and with distinction.
As fellow Club members we grieve his absence and honour his service and his sacrifice – tangibly recognised now through this Honour Board.
I also acknowledge the many members of the Purssey family who have been sterling members of the Club for generations.
These include Flight Lieutenant Purssey’s two brothers Major Brian Purssey and Captain Ron Purssey, who are also current members.
Indeed, the room where we are dining tonight owes much of its convivial ambience to the work of Ron Purssey as honorary architect.
Generations of family, generations of service and generations of friendship lend a special spirit to this Club.
It is a spirit I value enormously, and I am very proud to serve as your Patron and proud to have had the honour of unveiling the Honour Board this evening. Thank you.