Anzac day is a time to reflect and honour those who served in foreign conflicts, especially those who lost their lives. Commander (Rtd.) Ian Parker CSM, a member of PFG’s Defence Capability Advisory Committee, shares his personal experience and the significance of contemplation.

For Ian, Anzac day is a time to remember the highs and lows of armed conflict and the people he served with, looking past the hype, and focusing on personal reflection.

 “I see Anzac Day as a personal time for honest reflection about the conflicts I was involved in; those I served with; what we achieved and the great camaraderie we shared. It also makes me pause to reflect on the momentous international events I played a very small part in those I served with; what we achieved and the great camaraderie we shared.”

Though he doesn’t usually participate in marches, Ian prefers to spend Anzac Day with family. “Last year my wife and I walked down to a small memorial near where we live and stood for a few minutes to pay our respect to all the service people who lost their lives serving Australia, and their families who had to suffer because of their service. This year I’ll do much the same.

Notwithstanding my usual approach of not marching, I have on a few occasions participated in Anzac Day in Sydney with the Clearance Diving Branch and it has always been a great day and an opportunity to catch up and share a few ‘quiet ales’ with old comrades I probably would not otherwise see.”

While he never served in a conflict with the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) specifically, Ian did train and work alongside then during his overall career.

As a young Officer of the Watch on HMAS Swan, Parker’s ship spent a lot of time training with an RNZN Destroyer escort. Despite the typical rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, the two navies worked well together at sea and got along famously on shore – except for when they played rugby against each other.

Training forged friendships between the two Navies and Parker became good friends with a Kiwi diver during his Clearance Diving Course. The group flew over to New Zealand to conduct deep diving training with the Kiwi diving team on their dive boat, HMNZS Manawanui. The two-week training session was a great experience, filled with plenty of deep diving in stunning locations north of Auckland, and further cemented the bond between the Australian and New Zealand divers.

‘Despite their small size the RNZN was, and still is a very professional and highly skilled navy, and they were very good to work alongside’.