Home' Advance In Review : Advance in Review July 2014 Contents Air Force Big Band performing at the Lithgow Show, along with the RAAF Balloon in the background. Photo by Leading Aircraftman Michael Green.
The Air Force Big Band recently presented
a ‘tour-de-force’ with performances at the
Lithgow Show in the Blue Mountains and
Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
The whirlwind trip started with an evening
performance on 21 March for the opening
of the 2014 Lithgow Agricultural Show.
With the hundredth anniversary of World
War One fast approaching, the town of
Lithgow has its own place in history. The
Lithgow community has a long running
relationship with the Australian Defence
Force through the Lithgow Small Arms
Factory and the many men and women that
volunteered for service in times of war. For
many servicemen, the name Lithgow is
synonymous with the .303 Lee Enfield rifle,
L1A1 SLR and Austyer.
This year the Lithgow Council invited
the Air Force Band to perform for the
show’s opening night on “Family Friday.”
Threatening rain held off to provide a
beautiful evening for event organisers. The
festival certainly had a family atmosphere,
with attractions for all ages, including the
Eljay Freestyle Team stunt bikes, the New
South Wales Rural Fire Service Challenge
and popular Farmers Challenge.
It was also wonderful to see our own
Air Force Hot Air Balloon above the
showgrounds, providing a stunning
backdrop amongst the picturesque Blue
Mountains during the band’s performance.
Under the new leadership of saxophonist
Corporal Ralph Whiteoak, the Air Force
Big Band got the grandstand audience into
a suitably festive mood with two sets of
The show featured singer Corporal Roxanne
Moxham and soloists from within the band,
including a dazzling debut performance by
talented new recruit Aircraftman Stuart
We had the pleasure of working with local
sound engineer, Kent Learned, who is no
stranger to big bands. Kent worked for
many years with big bands and jazz groups
in New York.
After spending the night at RAAF Base
Richmond, the band headed into the
bustling Darling Harbour in Sydney for a
public lunchtime concert on the Saturday.
The Air Force Band is grateful to Graham
Griffith of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore
Authority for accommodating our
performance. Graham was very pleased
to welcome us to Darling Harbour and
remembers with fondness the days when
the Air Command Big Band performed
regularly at Darling Harbour. Our show was
on the water’s edge on the Harbourside
Amphitheatre, set against the spectacular
backdrop of Cockle Bay.
Finally, a big ‘thank you’ to percussionist
Corporal Duncan Rae for driving the band’s
equipment in our truck from Melbourne in
time for the Friday night performance, and
back again at the end of the weekend.
Flight Sergeant Ben van den Akker
Australians and New Zealanders commemorate the Gallipoli
landings on the 25 April each year. For the people of Turkey,
however, the Gallipoli campaign is remembered as the
Çanakkale Land Battles, and is commemorated a day earlier,
on the 24 April. This day is marked each year by the Turkish
military with a parade and commemoration at the immense
Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli
Peninsula. Australian, New Zealand, British, Canadian and
Indian contingents are traditionally invited to take part in
this Turkish national event. This year, the Air Force Band and
Federation Guard members joined with New Zealand Defence
Force musicians to take part in the parade as a single ANZAC
Our day started early in order to beat the traffic jams to Cape
Helles. With a 4.30am bus departure, including police escort
from our accommodation in Çanakkale, a ferry ride across the
Dardanelles, we headed straight to a remote rural village on
the Gallipoli Peninsula for some breakfast. This little town was
completely deserted at that time of the morning, and the vision
of a large group of antipodean servicemen and women in full
ceremonial dress wondering the streets was somewhat surreal.
We arrived at Cape Helles well before any traffic congestion,
and had plenty of time to mingle with other military personnel
before the parade. Soon enough Regimental Sergeant Major-
Ceremonial, Warrant Officer Class One Paul Richardson, briefed
the gathered Australians and New Zealanders, and we were
formed up in “column of route.”
It is fairly rare for band members to march without their
instruments. It is particularly unique to march side by side
with the members of the various Kiwi and Aussie services
in one single column of Anzacs, including flag bearers with
the national flags of both countries flying proudly above the
marching troops. Add to this a British contingent, Turkish troops
in both modern and World War One period uniforms, a modern
Turkish military band and the famous traditional Istanbul-based
Mehter company (also known as janissaries), and you have a
The Air Force Band’s French horn player, Sergeant Stuart
McGregor said: “As always, I love meeting fellow bandsmen
from around the world. Although not being able to verbally
communicate with the Turkish musicians we shook hands,
compared instruments, took photos, gesticulated wildly and
“The performance of the Ottoman Military Orchestra and the
singing conductor leading the Turkish Armed Forces Band were
both highly entertaining,” said Sergeant McGregor. The setting
for the event was very impressive: Standing 41.70 meters tall,
the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial is huge. It was opened in 1960
to commemorate the service of about 253,000 Turkish soldiers
who participated in the Gallipoli campaign. It watches over the
entrance to the Dardanelles on Hisarlık Hill at the southern
end of the Gallipoli Peninsula. After a march past and “eyes
right” for the president of Turkey, the parade was soon over.
We quickly jumped back on the bus for a couple of hours break
back in Çanakkale, and then onto our first pre-dawn service
performance at Anzac Cove at 8.00pm that night!
Flight Sergeant Ben van den Akker
Swinging From The Hills to the harbour
THE TURKISH DAY OF REMEMBERANCE
Australia’s Federation Guard, Air Force Band personnel, along with New Zealand
Defence Force members march at a Turkish ceremony in memory of those who fought
in World War I. Photo by Corporal Matthew Bickerton.
Flight Sergeant Ben van den Akker along with Turkish Veterans.
Photo by Sergeant Andrew Boyle.
Warrant Officer Atillio Celata and Flight Sergeant Ben van den Akker along with serving
Turkish Army personnel. Photo by Sergeant Andrew Boyle.
ADVANCE in REVIEW
ADVANCE in REVIEW
Links Archive Advance in Review December 2014 Advance in Review March 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page