Pozieres Suzuki & Barry Gracey Hits The Road Again

I have finally got home from my latest tour in the Pozieres Suzuki after another 4000 Kms on the road.

I started the journey on Mon 27th Feb, heading off from Coffs Harbour to the Neath Hotel outside Cessnock in NSW.

The hotel is the home for the Miners lamp owned by Harry Littlefair, a miner who went off to war in 1915 and was badly wounded at Pozieres. He was later killed at Lys in 1917 and his body was never found.

Brett and Michelle take down Harry’s lamp and light it each ANZAC Day in memory of all Fallen Soldiers. A great tribute to Harry and his mates.

Tod, Michelle, Brett & Chris at the Neath Hotel

I had the opportunity to present an entrenching tool to the Hotel from the battlefields of Pozieres where Harry fought, and appropriately two Members of the CFMEU Northern Mining & NSW Energy District Branch, Todd Hardy and David Simm presented the shovel and certificate to Brett and Michelle.

Many thanks to the CFMEU Northern Mining & NSW Energy District Branch for their help in saluting the service of a man that would have been one of their Members in his day, but who gave up everything to serve his country.

To see more on Harry go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgcTx_Ywcy0

I had a quieter day in Sydney on Tuesday, but still had the opportunity to catch up with John O’Brien from the City of Blacktown RSL and Phil from Castle hill RSL. John told me about possible support for us from the City of Blacktown RSL CLUB, and I will let you know more when things are confirmed.

I also had the time to get to the CFMEU NSW and the Law Society of NSW with requests for support (many miners and construction workers signed up for WW1, and the legal profession in NSW and VIC had 31 Members who fought at Pozieres with 16 of the 31 killed, 5 with no known graves)

Off to Merrylands RSL on Wed morning to attend the 50th Anniversary of the White Ensign.  Had great pleasure in catching up with LTCMDR Parton of HMAS Waterhen, I took the opportunity to remind Alan that white uniforms are normally worn by stewards.  I am sure he will get me back.

50th Anniversary of the White Ensign at Merrylands RSL with LTCMDR Alan Parton

After the ceremony I was off to the Granville Historical society to catch up with June Bullivant. They are a group of amazing people and their research into all things Granville is a great public service. June told me about the 10 Soldiers from Granville who fought and died at Pozieres, and I am glad that we are able to do something to honour these Men.

The formalities for the day were not finished, and I was off to Carriageworks to attend a French Embassy affair to celebrate French Culture in Australia. The address was given by the French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and highlighted the relationship between France and Australia. It was a great night.

Barry with the French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

Unfortunately I had to leave Sydney right after the function and drove through the night down to Yenda. Arrived at 0130 hrs, and settled in to doze in the car until daylight arrived

Barry’s bedroom for the night at Yenda NSW

Thursday I was able to sit and talk with the President of Yenda RSL, a traditional Sub Branch with 12 Members. He spoke of the difficulties that smaller Sub Branches have out in the country and I could sympathise with him. Hopefully they will be able to work out a way to keep the Sub Branch alive into the future.

At lunchtime I was on the road to Leeton to meet Mr Peter Mooney from the Leeton RSL Sub Branch. I got to spend some time at the Leeton Soldiers Club, a great Club with good staff.  Hopefully I will be able to get back there in the near future.

Back on the road again, I headed to Euroa to meet Pierre Durand from the Euroa RSL Sub Branch. They are a traditional RSL, but have a great War Memorial.  They are the only town in Australia that produced three Victoria Cross winners, and the town lost 27 Men at Pozieres and another 7 at Mouquet Farm.  This district really gave a lot in WW1.

Finally able to take a break I met up with David Lyas, one of our South Australian Members who was visiting Euroa, and enjoyed a great dinner and some sleep.

Friday I was on the road at 0500 heading for Melbourne. Even though I had limited time I managed to get to the CFMEU Victoria and the Law Society of Victoria with requests for support, as well as catching up with the President of Bentleigh RSL Mr Ian Butcher.

Just after lunch I was back on the road again, this time heading up to Shepparton. Pierre Durand from Euroa had arranged for me to attend a gun show weekend there, and I had the opportunity to speak to people about Pozieres and distribute Handbills.

Pierre relieved me at 1400 and offered to look after out display for the remainder of Saturday and Sunday so I could get back on the road to Sydney.

I arrived in Sydney at 2030 on Saturday night and took a day off resting on Sunday (thanks Jackie for the offer of a bed).

Monday I headed off to the Granville Diggers club, and then left for the Club Palm Beach where I met up with Russell Marsh, the Secretary of the Palm Beach RSL Sub Branch.

Russell Marsh, Secretary of Palm Beach RSL Sub Branch.

I tried to give the club a donation via the poker machines but was up $25 when Russell arrived. Had the opportunity to explain what we were doing and why to Russell, and then enjoyed a great lunch at the Club.

Following lunch I was back on the road again heading home, arriving at 2130 hrs totally exhausted.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone I met along the way who helped make the trip as pleasurable as it could be when driving for six days. While these trips are hard on the body, I love being able to meet a great range of people who all have the same basic interest in ensuring that our Soldiers are honoured for the sacrifice they made.