From: Defence Media Centre
Date: Wed 25/04/2012 7:32 AM

Chief of the Defence Force honours the fallen in Belgium

The Chief of Defence Force, General David Hurley has honoured the sacrifice of Australian service men and women during the Last Post Ceremony at the historic Menin Gate in Belgium.

The Menin Gate Memorial bears the names of more than 55000 Allied soldiers who lie in unknown graves on the battlefields of Belgium. The Last Post ceremony has been held every evening at Menin Gate for the past 80 years.

General Hurley, who is in Brussels to attend a series of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) meetings, was granted rare permission to address the pre-ANZAC Day service.

"On the eve of the 97th anniversary of ANZAC Day, we pause to reflect once more on the tragedy of war, its human cost," General Hurley said.

All five of divisions of the Australian Imperial Force including the 60 Australian infantry battalions fought in Belgium during World War I. Nine Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross, recognising their extraordinary valour during action in Belgium.

General Hurley said our nations draw strength from the stories of sacrifice and generous, kind deeds.

“Australians, New Zealanders and Belgians are also experiencing the same emotions today for our service men and women who serve overseas, at war, and on peacekeeping operations, again.

“As today’s ANZACs rise this morning to commemorate ANZAC Day we think of them and their families,” General Hurley said.

In a message to Australian Defence Force members, General Hurley said today’s military personnel were inspired by the Anzac legend.

"When young men and women from the Australian Defence Force deploy on operations, they are always mindful of the legacy they have inherited and the great tradition that they feel duty bound to uphold when they are on operations.

"They are tremendous people. They work hard and they have a real sense of pride in the organisation," General Hurley said.

Vision of the Chief of the Defence Force's address to the Last Post ceremony in Belgium will be fed to Parliament House today.

Media notes: Imagery will be available on the Defence website during the afternoon of the 25th of April.
Media contact: Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999