Australian and New Zealand war veterans and currently serving members of the armed forces will be at the centre of Anzac Day Dawn Services to be conducted on P&O Cruises’ ships tomorrow.
Joined by senior deck officers and fellow guests, the veterans and currently serving members will participate in the traditional service including the playing of the Last Post, observance of a minute’s silence and the symbolic casting of wreaths onto the sea.
The Dawn Services will begin a day devoted to the Anzac legacy with special Australian and New Zealand displays with an Anzac theme, Anzac biscuits available on board throughout the day and two-up in a salute to the larrikin spirit of the original Diggers.
As Anzac Day begins with the Dawn Services, Pacific Dawn will be approaching Brisbane on turnaround, Pacific Jewel will be at sea, Pacific Eden will be in Broome and Pacific Aria will be at Port Vila.
Pacific Eden’s presence in Broome will be particularly significant given that the West Australian port was bombed by Japanese fighter planes in March 1942 with the loss of at least 88 people. In another West Australian wartime link, further to the south at Geraldton is the HMAS Sydney Memorial commemorating the loss of the Sydney in November 1941 with the loss of all 645 officers and crew following action with the German raider Kormoran.
Anzac Day is also an opportunity for P&O Cruises to remember its own historic legacy of scores of ships called up for war service including, most recently, Canberra’s celebrated role as a troopship during the Falklands War in 1982.
Many P&O ships were called to service in both World Wars with the loss of a large number of ships and crew members in action at sea.
“Anzac Day is always a very special day on our P&O ships and our Australian and New Zealand guests look forward to participating in the poignant Dawn Services remembering the service and sacrifice of so many who gave their lives in the defence of freedom,” said P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell.
“It is always a particular honour to invite the veterans and currently serving members of the armed forces among our guests to play a central role during the on board commemoration of Anzac Day.
“The day makes the transition to a celebration of all things Australian and New Zealand that in its own way salutes those who have served to protect the freedom we enjoy.”
In an historic note, around two thirds of the then P&O fleet was called to war service during World War One with the loss of 85 ships belonging to P&O and its subsidiary companies.
During World War Two, the P&O group lost 156 ships including some of its then iconic line ships, Viceroy of India, Cathay, Oronsay and Orcades.
In the Falklands War, Canberra had a pivotal role carrying the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines on the 17,000km voyage to the Falklands before making a triumphant return to Southampton.