Lighting the Dawn: Public Anzac Day events have been cancelled in the region for the first time in over 100 years, so we’re finding new ways of acknowledging service and sacrifice. Photos: CHIPPY RIVERA

Four generations of service to the nation

April 23, 2020 BY

FORTY years ago, Private George Brown signed up for his first hitch as reservist with what was then 2nd Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment, serving for four years.

In 2011 he enlisted again, this time following his son, Shawn, into the ranks of what had become 8th/7th Battalion of the RVR.

“I had a 28-year hiatus,” Pte Brown said. “I got back in in December 2011 after my son got in. Had to go back through Kapooka‎ as a 52-and-a-half-year-old. Mentally that was fine by physically it was demanding.”

Those two generations of the Brown family follow a long history of military service. Pte Brown’s father prepared for service during the Korean War but was never deployed, while his grandfather was a boy soldier during World War One British Army before emigrating to Australia.

Along the way other family members have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of the nation, including a great-uncle who went down on the SS Montevideo Maru while part of 2/26 Battalion.

During Pte Brown’s first stretch with 2RVR he became the company signaller, it’s a role his son now fills with 8/7 RVR and the familial links don’t end there.

“At Kapooka‎ my son went through Alpha Company, I went through Alpha Company and dad, when he went through, was in Chocolate Platoon, which was the forerunner to Alpha,” Pte Brown said.

On serving with his son, Pte Brown described the experience as “brilliant.”

“It’s magnificent, you get that close bond anyway, but it just makes that bond stronger,” he said.

Born in Sebastopol and growing up in Mount Clear, life has taken Pte Brown across town to Brown Hill. In the 28 years he was out, he said there’s been change in the Army, for the good.

“Back then everything was so relaxed,” Pte Brown said. “We’d go out to the forests locally and do all your training out there. We had a rifle range here in Ballarat. We’d go there if we needed to requalify for our shoots.

“Now we go to Puckapunyal and have all the checks and balances in place. Times have defiantly changed for the better.”

What hasn’t changed is the importance of Anzac Day to Pte Brown who, with his father and son has marched with the Sebastopol RSL Sub-Branch.

With this year’s commemorations radically different to any other in our lifetime, Pte Brown said recognising service and sacrifice to the nation was more important than ever.

“For me personally I’m really gutted that we can’t go out and march,” he said.

“My dad’s 90, while he’s still got his health and can get out and march, you just don’t know how many more marches he has in him. To not be able to be there and do that with him, it leaves a big hole in you.”