Jana Gottshall mentioned in Opposition Leader’s Anzac Day speech

April 22, 2010 by J-Wire
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Rebbetzin Jana Gottshall will be buried in Sydney tomorrow [Friday]. Today in the NSW State Parliament, Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell mentioned Jana Gottshall in his Anzac Day speech.

The full text of his speech follows:

Mr BARRY O’FARRELL (Ku-ring-gai—Leader of the Opposition)

Jana Gottshall with NSW Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell

Two years ago I was at a place known well to the members representing the electorates of Lakemba, Terrigal, Lane Cove and a few others who serve in this Parliament. Along with my 14-year-old son, I was following the footsteps of those Australian diggers who fought—and died—on the Kokoda Track. Kokoda, like so many far-flung places in which Australians have served in two World Wars and too many other conflicts—in fact, there are 23,000 cemeteries in 146 countries—is a place where ordinary Australians undertook extraordinary feats in defence of the freedom and opportunity we enjoy today. Like Gallipoli, Tobruk, Pozieres, Singapore, Long Tan, Tarin Kowt, Kokoda is part of our history and its fallen, like all the others, deserve to remembered, especially on Anzac Day.

One of my enduring memories of Kokoda is of dawn at the great black granite memorial at Isurava, overlooking the Yodda Valley. There we stood and gave thanks for people like Bruce Kingsbury who gave their lives, not just for their mates but also for us, the generations that succeeded them. Bruce and his lifelong friend he met when they were five, Allen Avery, enlisted in 1940 and went to the Middle East to help liberate Lebanon, where Bruce Kingsbury was awarded a Military Medal before being sent New Guinea in 1942 to relieve Australia’s troops, largely militia.

On 26 August 1942 Kingsbury and the 2/14th arrived at Isurava. Two days later the Australian forces, outnumbered 5:1, faced a full-strength attack. On 29 August the Australians’ right flank was breached and their headquarters were threatened. Armed with a Bren gun, alongside his mate Avery equipped with a Tommy gun, Kingsbury volunteered for the counter attack. As a new Japanese assault started, Kingsbury raced towards the enemy shouting, “Follow me! We can turn them back!” Amidst gunfire so heavy it was claimed to have shredded the undergrowth within minutes, Kingsbury, firing from his hip, charged straight at the enemy soldiers. As his lifelong mate later wrote, “He was an inspiration to everybody else around him.”

The Japanese were demoralised and were forced back to their lines in the shelter of the jungle. Kingsbury paused for a moment, and surveyed the scene around him, before a previously unseen Japanese sniper fired a shot that hit him in the chest. Despite Allen Avery’s efforts in carrying his mate back to the regimental aid post—now known as Kingsbury’s Rock—Private Bruce Kingsbury was dead. He is buried in the Kokoda cemetery. The Victoria Cross awarded to him was the first gained on territory administered by Australia and the first awarded in the South West Pacific area.

The story of Bruce Kingsbury, and his mate Allen Avery, and the stories of too many others like them—young and old, men and women, who answered the call when conflicts occurred—is what Anzac Day, our most sacred national day, is all about. We do not glorify war and the death and destruction it wreaks; we commemorate the fallen and the living and the gifs they have left us. Regrettably the death continues today, including since last Anzac Day another private, Benjamin Ranaudo of the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in Afghanistan. So as we gather at memorials across New South Wales on Anzac Day this Sunday our task is simple: to remember these men and women, to recall their sacrifice, to reflect on the cause they fought for, and to recommit ourselves to their goals of freedom and opportunity for all.

If I can be indulged for a personal reflection. Yesterday my friend Alex Gottshall’s mother died. Jana Gottshall was an Auschwitz survivor. She was also a person who epitomised the cause for which Bruce Kingsbury and so many other Australian troops have always fought. The gratitude she had for that freedom and opportunity that Australia had offered her lasted all her life. Ours should too. Lest we forget.

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