The haunting tune of a lone bugler sounding the Last Post during the dawn service on Anzac Day is emotive and powerful for all Australians.
This year at Anzac Cove in Turkey, it was especially poignant for the Australian Army Band bugler, who reflected on his family’s proud connection to the battlefield.
Army musician Francis White, from Adelaide, was part of the Australian Defence Force contingent supporting the commemorative ceremonies at Gallipoli on April 25.
Musician White honoured his great-grandfather Captain Francis Michael White, who served as a lieutenant with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli in 1915.
Like many who fought at Gallipoli, Lieutenant White was struck down with illness during the campaign and was sent to a hospital ship for recovery. Also, like many other Australians who served at Gallipoli and returned, he brought back seedlings from Lone Pine and buried them at Port Wakefield in South Australia.
Musician White joined a compatriot from the New Zealand Army Band to sound the Last Post and Reveille at Anzac Cove. He performed at a similar moving Anzac Day ceremony at Sandakan, Malaysia, in 2019.
“It is an honour to serve in my role as an ambassador for Australia, commemorating the service and sacrifice of soldiers who are now out of living memory, yet whose actions were critical to our freedom and identity over one hundred years later. This is an incredible personal journey for me to better understand the experience of my ancestors,” Musician White said.
The family military history covers service in both world wars, with his grandfather serving in the Royal Air Force in Northern Ireland. He then transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force as a Catalina pilot and navigator in WWII, and served in the Indian, Pacific, and European theatres.
“I honestly can’t think of a greater personal honour than this opportunity to commemorate at the campaign location of my great-grandfather,” Musician White said.
The Australia's Federation Guard and Australian Army Band, working with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, also conducted a commemorative service at the Australian Memorial at Lone Pine.