By Maxine Brown
THE men in Allan Voak’s family are a committed bunch – with a strong history of military service and sacrifice.
As a young bloke, Allan served with the 13th Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery/Signals, before moving into law enforcement and the Australian Federal Police.
His older brother, Pete, served with the 7th Field Ambulance, while younger brother Wayne served with the 16th Battalion Royal WA Highland Regiment, then in B Company.
His dad was one of six brothers to enlist and fight in WWII, being posted to the AIF 2/28th Battalion and the 101 Signals. Sadly, two brothers were killed in their first year of active service in the Middle East, but Allan’s dad survived a very close shave. And his grandfather was a boy seaman in WWI [due to his big solid build he lied about his age] before serving again in WWII.
Allan said: “Our father was shot and survived his injuries. Our father did missions dressed as Chinese/Malay Islanders, using junks to seek intelligence of Japanese movements on the various islands off our coastline, he saw active duty in the north of WA and Darwin as well during WWII.”
So it’s no surprise that ANZAC Day is a commemoration that is very close to Allan’s heart.
“ANZAC Day is not a celebration of war; it is a day to respect those who gave their lives for world freedom,” says Allan, who is a Service Member of the Quinns Rock RSL Sub-Branch.
“It is also very pleasing to see that our brave Indigenous military members are now being recognised for their service during the war years; their marksmanship and horse-riding skills.
“I for one would not be here to enjoy my life, living in a so-called free world, if not for the actions of those who served in the past.”
This time last year, as Australia came to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown that saw traditional ANZAC Day services cancelled, RSLWA’s driveway dawn service was born.
It was embraced throughout the state and even overseas, not only for allowing people to commemorate together but apart during lockdown, but because it supported those who were traditionally unable to attend formal services due to other commitments or ill health.
This year it’s back, as Light Up The Dawn, to live permanently alongside the traditional Dawn Services held at Kings Park and throughout the State.
Allan said: “Last year, out of 17 houses in our street, 15 households consisting of various nationalities joined in.
“All participating residents made decorated candle holders / windbreakers, which were decorated with RIP, Lest We Forget and crosses. As we were waiting to show our respect to the fallen and to those that made it back home, my wife, Eva, ran inside the house to get the portable radio so our neighbours could hear the ABC Dawn Service broadcast.
This year, Allan and his neighbours will be taking part again, with the Voaks hosting a Gunfire Breakfast for all who take part.
Allan says: “Due to lockdown and isolation regulations last year, many Australian citizens – including those currently holidaying in Australia – realised that the quarantine / isolation and restriction were nothing in comparison that our parents had to endure during the War period, including food shortages. So as a sign of respect the Light Up was a way to honour the hardships their family had to experience.
“I’m pleased it is continuing. I believe this is a great idea as many cannot attend the main Dawn service due to poor health, having no transport to get them to the service and, as the population is getting older, the weather plays a big part in who attends the Dawn Services.”
- Please tune in to ABC Radio (ABC Radio Perth for metropolitan listeners) to hear your special Light Up The Dawn broadcast, which includes a reading of The Ode, the Last Post, the Minute’s Silence and Rouse.