What Anzac Day means to our people

As one of Australia’s oldest companies, Anzac Day is an important part of AGL’s history. On Wednesday 25 April we will acknowledge all Australians who have served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

In the lead up to the day we spoke to some of our people who previously served in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) about what Anzac Day means to them.

Stu Mcquade- Team Leader, Planning (Mount Beauty)

“I enlisted as a 16-year-old Army Apprentice in 1993 and served for 13 years. I had postings in Victoria, NSW, NT and QLD and was deployed on Operation Bel Isi in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

Anzac Day for me is a time of reflection and remembrance. I think of mates I’ve lost along the way and remember the good and bad experiences of my time in uniform. It is a time to reflect on the deeds of those who went before us and those that are still in the thick of it. It helps put my everyday life and stresses into perspective.

On Anzac Day I’ll polish the medals, suit up and march in my local parade. I’m hoping to get my kids along to the dawn service at Albury’s Monument Hill.”

Michael Cook – Operations Manager, Procurement and Supply Chain (Sydney)

“I served 21 years in the Australian Army as an Officer in Transport and Logistics from 1987 – 2007. I saw Operational Service in East Timor in 1999 and 2006, the Solomon Islands in 2003 and Iraq in 2004-2005.

Having served overseas on operational service I feel honoured to be part of continuing the Anzac tradition. It is a time to acknowledge and reflect on the past sacrifices of our servicemen and women, and on our continuing operations overseas.

Since leaving the ADF, I will generally go to the Dawn Service at Middle Head in Sydney or Yamba, Northern NSW. Both of these locations have Dawn Services on coastal headlands, so the service is always marked by the rising sun over the sea and the first light on the shoreline.

It is incredible to see so many younger people wearing their medals at the Dawn Service, continuing the Anzac tradition with a strong understanding of what that entails and means to Australia.”

Nick Feagan – Team Leader, Customer Services Resolutions (Melbourne)

“I served in the ADF from 2001 – 2005 – a long time ago now.

Anzac Day to me means more than Christmas. It is the personification of mateship, resilience and perseverance.

The purpose of Anzac Day is to stop and take a minute to think – of the conditions they had to endure, what they had to witness and what they had to live through when they came back. And those who unfortunately didn’t come back.

I encourage people to take the time to go to a dawn service, get down to an RSL or offer your services at a nursing home with veterans. Some are too frail to get to the Anzac Day march and would love someone to talk to. Most importantly, if you see someone in uniform stop and say “thank you” – they won’t get it much and it means a lot.”

AGL’s history

In 1884, the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) purchased 32 hectares of land at Mortlake in Sydney, New South Wales. When war was declared in 1914 the company had around 3,000 people at the Mortlake factory and at depots and distribution points across metropolitan Sydney. Recruitment for the volunteer Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was very enthusiastic and some AGL employees joined the rush by enlisting in the first week. Enlistments continued throughout the War and by the end, 340 had enlisted and 45 were killed with an unknown number returned with physical disabilities and mental scars.

During the war, AGL kept an Honour Roll of enlistments and recorded the names of those killed. They also kept open the jobs of those who enlisted and a large percentage of employees returned to those jobs. AGL also made up the pay difference between the men’s military and civil pay.

AGL was aware of the great sacrifice made by its employees and their families and it commemorated their valour by erecting a Tablet at the entrance of the Mortlake works, called the AGL Gasworks Memorial. Following redevelopment of the area post the closure of the gas works site, the memorial is now known as the Breakfast Point War Memorial.

The BP War Memorial website provides information on the War Memorial and provides a brief history of the families of those who died, where they served during the War, and an indication of the impact of their death on their families.

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