SYDNEY MELBOURNE KEITH SMITH
For many Torquay locals the name Syd Smith and the Dawn Service go hand in hand, so involved was Syd in the march and the service.
Syd, who was born Sydney Melbourne Keith Smith, was born the day after ANZAC day in 1924, South Australia.
A young SMK joined the RAAF in 1941 and was shipped to the UK via the USA to join the 460 Squadron. He flew missions over Europe and was lucky enough to return to Australia in 1945. The war took its toll on Syd. He remembered always his squadron buddies who did not return and he himself was the only one of five brothers to return home. He lost three brothers in the Middle East and one in the Pacific- such a sacrifice from one family!
It is little wonder he threw himself with such passion into making ANZAC day in Torquay a worthy service of remembrance to the boys that did not come home. Syd was a very active RSL member serving as President, Secretary and Treasurer. He dedicated himself to organising ANZAC day; he was the “go to” man -organising guest speakers, the Tiger-Moths fly over, the Newtown pipe band, the PA system and the assembly of marchers at the Hall. Syd read ‘The Ode’ at the service many times and saw the service grow from a mere 100 people to the thousands we see today.
On ANZAC day when perhaps many locals and visitors arrive at Point Danger in the pre-dawn darkness, take a minute to think of Sydney Melbourne Keith Smith and the job he did to keep the ANZAC spirit alive in Torquay and the sacrifice his family made.
To SMK, ANZAC day was about remembering those who fought and died in all wars and the lasting friendships made during those years. It was about bringing together people, old and young to make sure we never forget the sacrifices of those who did their duty for their country.
Lest we forget.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning;
We will remember them.
James Mephan (Jim)Ferguson was a regular attendee of the Dawn Service at Torquay over many years. On most of these occasions he would march in the Dawn Service, then head up to Melbourne to march with his divisional buddies to the Cenotaph in St Kilda Road .
Jim went straight from School into the army in 1942 joining the 2nd/9th Armoured Regiment, the successor of the famous 1st/9th Light Horse of World War I. The 9th Australian Armoured Regiment was raised on 25th August 1941 and formed as part of the 1st Australian Armoured Division. As part of the 4th Armoured Brigade, the 2/9th made landings at Tarakan, Labuan Island and Brunei.
Jim served in the south-west Pacific region and New Guinea.
His brother John Boyd Ferguson (1915-1943) who, like Jim, was educated at Geelong College, died on active service during World War II.
His sister Helen had married Sir Edward “Weary “Dunlop. Jim arranged for Weary to attend the service at Torquay on several occasions. Weary led the March in 1989 and Jim was thrilled to be given this honour in 2007 – never had the dawn march been lead so proudly. Jim was a supporter and member of the Torquay RSL and Anzac day was an important part of his life.
Did You know……
While the site at beautiful Point Danger has long been the place to observe Anzac Day in Torquay. It has not always looked as it does now nor has it been without controversy.
The little stone Cairn was removed in 2006 to make way for the new granite memorial which was to be more substantial and a further recognition of the past.
Local ex serviceman Joe Walker led a community campaign to return the Cairn which had stood at Point Danger for 58 years. Joe and other local boys built the Cairn with rough stones and sand from the very beaches they had fought to protect. They claimed the spot was sacred to many people and noted ashes of “the boys” had been spread there over the years.
An agreement was reached to return the Cairn and it was asked that the Cairn be put in a prominent position. This year when you are visiting Point Danger take the time to look at the Cairn and read the memorials on it .
It is a special part of our history and now sits proudly on the eastern most part of the point and it the first structure the sun touches it rises on Anzac Day.
Joe Walker passed away in 2014 and is remembered on Anzac day in Torquay for his efforts is retaining our little Cairn.
Corporal John Burton is a Vietnam Veteran. He served with the 1st Infantry Battalion in Vietnam in 1968 and has marched at Torquay for 30 years. John has organised a Torquay Golf Club Legacy Day on Anzac Day for 28 years, with the money raised going to support the work legacy does helping Veterans and their families. John is pictured here at the 2014 Service with his grandson Tom (photo Ferne Millen)