25 April 2017

CaitlinA MEMBER of The Salvation Army from Queensland, Australia, has travelled to Europe to sing with a choir at Anzac Day commemoration services in France. Anzac Day (25 April) is one of Australia’s most important national occasions, marking the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Freeman, of Bald Hills, Queensland, has made the trip of a lifetime to sing on the Western Front on Anzac Day. She is one of 31 choristers with the Voices of Birralee who will be performing at the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux and at the ‘Bullecourt Digger’ statue in the Australian Memorial Park.

Caitlin's family has strong links with the Anzac forces. Her great-great uncle, who was in the 18th Battalion, died in Gallipoli and her great-great cousin Joseph Hind, who fought in Villers-Bretonneux in the 28th Battalion, died in action aged 20. He is honoured at the Australian National Memorial so Caitlin is particularly looking forward to paying her respects there.

One of her great-grandfathers fought in the First World War and elisted for the Second World War with the Royal Australian Air Force, but he tragically died from blood poisoning from the immunisation he received before leaving for war. Another great-grandfather, Salvation Army officer William Shaw, was awarded Anzac of the Year in 1983 for his work as a Red Shield officer in the Second World War. He was nicknamed ‘Milo Bill’ because he used to give the soldiers tea, coffee, Milo (a chocolate and malt drink) and biscuits.

‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,’ says Caitlin. ‘I feel so lucky to be part of something so significant and it will be such an awesome experience to represent my relatives. It’s important to honour all those who left their families and risked their lives to represent our country. Because they made such a big sacrifice (so many of them didn’t return home), our country is a better place.’

Caitlin has been singing with Voices of Birralee, a non-profit youth choral organisation based in Brisbane, for seven years. She also sings in the worship team at her church, The Salvation Army Brisbane City Temple, and in the chapel at her school, Northside Christian College.

Adapted from an interview with Caitlin by Faye Michelson, published in the Australian War Cry 

Tags: South Pacific and East Asia, Europe, Events