Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Dawn Service

I have not long returned home from the dawn service and I can now tell you where I went.  I have not been to a dawn service for many years. For those of you who have not met me, I have chronic arthritis and need two knee replacements which means I cannot stand or walk too much.  That has made it too hard for me to attend a dawn service or the march in the city.  

This year, however, it was really troubling me.  I usually sit at home and watch the dawn service on TV while my husband heads off to a local one and then I sew for AHQ while I watch the march from beginning to end.   A friend of mind said that ANZAC Day is for marching with your friends, and although I am not in a position to march, I really wanted to be with people that matter to me, not among strangers and not at home on my own. 

It probably fairly obvious that I am passionate about what I do and treasure the relationship I have with many of our recipients, so you can imagine my delight when I was invited to attend the dawn service with the 2nd Commando Regiment.  What a privilege.  You could have offered me a Golden Ticket to Gallipoli but I would not have accepted it in preference. 

It was a beautiful service and I was able to sit in comfort throughout and take it all in. 

I have to say a very big thank you to the Chaplain for inviting myself and my husband to attend their service and also thank you to the Commanding Officer for allowing me to attend. 

My first dawn service in many years, the first ANZAC Day I have worn my medals and the Centenary of ANZAC Year. A very special memory.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Weekly Dispatches 24 April

Here are the quilts and laundry bags of this week.  
Before you enjoy the pics I just want to take a moment to say I hope that everyone has a good day tomorrow.  

For some ANZAC Day is a time to get together with your mates, attend the dawn service, march with your mates and down a few cold ones. 

For one special group ANZAC Day can be a challenge as it brings to the surface much that still causes pain. 

For others ANZAC Day is an excuse to sleep in and spend time with your family.  

If you are in the last group can I please ask that whatever you do tomorrow, please spare a thought for our past serving members, many of whom died or returned forever changed so that we could live the life of freedom we enjoy today.  Please also remember those who are serving today, often far from their loved ones, far from our beautiful country.  Do not take the freedom of this country for granted. Please raise a toast at lunch time, talk to your kids about what ANZAC Day means, watch the march on TV or simply spend a few quiet minutes and reflect on how lucky we are to live in this country and how very lucky we are to have men and women who are willing to fight to keep it that way.

488 quilts and 626 laundry bags for 2015. 

4073 quilts and  6083 laundry bags in total.


Louise quilted by Debbie

Lynn quilted by Debbie

Irene (front)




Julie Ann

Keryn (with a patch signed by Petero Civoniceva in the bottom corner

Lyn K


Lynn and quilted by Lisa N 

Marg C


Help!  Please can you tell me who made the next three quilts? and who quilted them??

Stephanie D

Su J 

These next three laundry bags were started by the ladies that sew at our Penrith Sewing Days but were finished by Sue G.  Thanks to all.


Finally, I wrote this for our deployed members this year.  I printed it out postcard size and included it in their parcels in the lead up to ANZAC Day. I have shared it on Facebook but this is for those that do not see the Facebook page.  I hope you enjoy it.

Lest We Forget
ANZAC Eve 2015

Kapyong Day.....

Today we remember the 'Battle of Kapyong' which was part of the Korean War in 1951. 3RAR were part of the UN forces that were defending the Kapyong Valley.

The following information comes directly from this source

3 RAR and the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2nd PPCLI) as part of the 27th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, were ordered 60 kilometres north-east of Seoul to the Kapyong River Valley to stem the enemy’s advance. 3 RAR dug in on the high ground on the east of the river to form one part of a defence-in-depth blocking position, with 2nd PPCLI on the western side.
The South Korean 6th Division retreated in the face of overwhelming Chinese numbers on the afternoon of 23 April. The Australians and Canadians, with the 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment (1 Mx), the 16th Field Regiment (16 Fd Regt), Royal New Zealand Artillery, and Company A, 72nd US Tank Battalion, in support, settled in to face the impact of the enemy advance.

3 RAR fought off waves of attacking infantry with A and B Companies at the front facing extremely heavy fire and bearing the brunt of the attack. Battalion Headquarters 3 RAR was forced to withdraw to 1 Mx’s position south-west of its four companies, some four kilometres from its fighting troops. This effectively left the companies isolated overnight. 16 Fd Regt provided effective fire support which held off the enemy, despite having to relocate its position due to enemy encroachment.

As the morning of 24 April dawned, the open ground below A and B Companies’ positions revealed Chinese forces in great numbers. The artillery, tanks and a company of American mortars poured fire onto the open ground in support of the Australians, causing extremely heavy casualties and a localised withdrawal by Chinese forces. B Company was ordered off its position to higher ground, and then subsequently reordered back to its former position, necessitating a bayonet charge to remove the Chinese now occupying it. This attack failed, placing the Australians in even greater peril.

The Chinese attempted to outflank the Australian positions to the east, meeting D Company on a feature called Hill 504. Again, 16 Fd Regt used its firepower in support, allowing D Company to repulse repeated attempts on its position. In the early afternoon, two United States Corsairs accidentally delivered a napalm airstrike on D Company’s position, killing two soldiers. Shortly afterwards, orders came through to conduct a fighting withdrawal of all four companies south-west through the 1 Mx position. This proved extremely difficult with the pursuing enemy maintaining contact well into the night, before 3 RAR was able to break contact and continue its withdrawal.

3 RAR lost 32 killed in action. Along with its Canadian, British, New Zealand and United States allies, 3 RAR managed to hold the advancing Chinese divisions in the Kapyong River valley for 24 hours, allowing United Nations forces further south to shore up a defensive line. It then successfully conducted a fighting withdrawal to extricate itself from encirclement and rejoin its parent brigade, exemplifying the discipline, courage and skill required to succeed in its mission. For their courageous actions, both 3 RAR and 2nd PPCLI were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation by the United States Government.


I am no expert on Military History. If you think an important anniversary or event is coming up please feel free to bring it to my attention and even write something about it if the mood takes you.

Till next time...............keep spreading the word and happy stitching!
Jan-Maree xxx

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Centenary Quilt - the Presentation

Yesterday was the much awaited presentation of the Centenary of ANZAC Quilt to the Australian War Memorial.   A small group of quilters were able to come along and be there when it was presented and I was delighted that Garry and Katrina Robinson also drove down from Sydney for the day.  For those of you who do not know Garry's story (you can check it out here).  He is one of the reasons I was motivated to start Aussie Heroes.  Since then he and his wife, Katrina, have become good friends of mine and I was delighted they were able to come.

Steph (left) is a Canberra local but Rita M and her husband Bob timed their trip from SA to visit grand children especially so that they could be there yesterday.

It was really lovely for me to meet Major General Craig Orme, whose quilt and laundry bag I had made myself, and who I had had some contact with whilst he was deployed.  Michelle was the RSM in Al Minhad Air Base last year and she and I had met once before, but it was great to catch up, albeit far too briefly.

Michelle had been given the responsibility of taking possession of the quilt once it returned back to Australia and bringing it along to the presentation.

It was great for the quilters to hear from the General how much Aussie Heroes contributes to the deployments of those we send our quilts and laundry bags to.

Major General Orme spoke briefly about how much the troops appreciate what we do and the fact that we are definitely making a difference.  I am always telling you that the troops appreciate what we do so I asked Step to tell me her impressions after hearing the General and this is what she wrote...

"Thoughts I had occur to me later after what MAJGEN Orme said, are that even the friends of AHQ probably underestimate the significance of what the bags and quilts mean to those who receive them.  It is after all, as the General said, a gift of thanks from someone who does not even know the recipient, to let them know people at home in Australia care for them.   What we do makes it easier for those serving overseas to be feeling like they are making a difference and they are appreciated for what they do.  As AHQ Friends we are doing something practical to support the operations overseas."

It was a great honour to have Dr Brendan Nelson there in person to accept the quilt.

From left to right we have

Carole, Michelle, Katrina, MAJGEN Orme, Dt Brendan Nelson, myself, Rhonda, Garry, Steph, Rayleen, Gail (who travelled from Sydney) and Rita M 

This will be one of the last times human hands ever touch the quilt I was told.

The quilt was accompanied by a certificate from the Middle East signed by Rear Admiral Trevor Jones  AO, CSC and Major General David Mulhall AM, CSC

The certificate read  


For a number of years Aussie Hero Quilts have provided quilts and laundry bags to Australian Defence Force personnel serving on operations. To recognise this, the volunteers from Aussie Hero Quilts were requested to create a quilt to commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC. To enable formal recognition of Aussie Hero Quilts, the Commanders of Joint Task Force 633 and Joint Task Force 636 facilitated a tour of this ANZAC Centenary Quilt through the Middle East and Afghanistan Regions on individual operational missions prior to gifting the quilt to the Australian War Memorial. This tour focussed on demonstrating the appreciation and respect that all Australian Defence Force personnel have for Aussie Hero Quilts and provides an historical record of the people behind the operational missions in the Middle East and Afghanistan during this significant year.
The ANZAC Centenary Quilt was specially made by Aussie Hero Quilts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. Over a three month period, 93 volunteers from around Australia contributed to the creation of this quilt. There are 75 poppies featured, sixty on the front and fifteen on the back; each one individually made. The quilt was made from retired ADF uniforms worn on operations. Appliqu├ęd silhouettes represent the three armed services. The ship, HMAS Newcastle, represents all the vessels and personnel that have deployed on Operation Manitou. The soldier silhouette represents all past and present deployed Army personnel. This silhouette is derived from a photograph of Sergeant Garry Robinson, a 2ND Commando Regiment Wounded Warrior who provided the inspiration for Jan-Maree Ball's foundation of Aussie Hero Quilts in 2012.  The C-130 aircraft, the workhorse of the Middle East, represents all past and present deployed Air Force personnel.
In this Centenary Year of ANZAC it is important that we reflect and remember all those Australian men and women who served on operations, some of whom paid the supreme sacrifice. It is also very important that we recognise the people; both families and volunteers, at home in Australia who stand in support of deployed serving Australian Defence Force personnel. Volunteer organisations such as Aussie Hero Quilts are often silent partners in contributing to the morale and welfare of our men and women. The ANZAC Centenary Quilt’s tour through twelve missions in the Middle East and Afghanistan Regions and its gifting to the Australian War Memorial is intended as a timeless symbol of our appreciation for this and other volunteer organisations.

And is was signed by Rear Admiral Trevor Jones, AO, CSC and Major General David Mulhall, AM CSC.

Whilst we were there one of the staff members brought up another Aussie Hero Quilt.  This was donated to the Australian War Memorial by a Naval Officer recently.  It was made by Belinda Betts.

I never really publicly explained, as I wanted to keep it a surprise till I could show you some photos, that the quilt was taken on a very specific tour of the Middle East and Afghanistan and after each "mission" one of the white patches on the back was signed by highly thought of members in each area.  I hope to have more details on this in future days but for now I have close ups of each square and some of you will recognise a recipient or two in the names. 



I will be disappointed if the quilt now goes to storage and stays there for the foreseeable future. Given the effort that was made to tour it around the Middle East and Afghanistan (wait till you see the photos) I would wish that more of you could see it.  I understand the space constraints that the War Memorial has, and have no wish to be critical of them as I have no experience in their field, but I think that in the Centenary Year this quilt is special, and not just to me, not just to those who contributed, but to many people, both serving and civilian.  If we cannot see it on display at the Australian War Memorial then I am hopeful that we can see it on display somewhere else that is easily accessible to the general public.  I have not given up and I am sure some suitable solution can be arranged to the satisfaction of all

I will do another post covering all the photos as soon as I can, given that I am just home from Canberra two hours ago.  I want time to add the captions to the photos so that you know what you are looking at.  

And now to unpack.....

Till next time.....................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  
Jan-Maree  xx