For the first time, an ANZAC Day commemoration service was held in the Seychelles by the Australian community, on April 26, 2015.
This was to mark the 100th anniversary of Australia and NZ forces landing on the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey, a decisive moment in these nations’ history.
Australia also launched a book prepared by the Australian High Commission for the centenary, called ANZACs in the Indian Ocean, which tells the stories of sons of the Indian Ocean who had emigrated to Australia, enlisted when the war broke out and served with the Australian armies in Gallipoli and France.
In addition, as ANZAC day is a day to commemorate sacrifice in all wars, Australians at the service remembered the one ANZAC buried in nearby Mauritius, but who also had a Seychelles connection, Royal Navy Bandsman Arnold Pearce PARTINGTON (Service No. 22132), who hailed from WA and then Tasmania.
Back in 1941, he was part of the crew of the HMAS Canberra which was a County-class heavy cruiser. The Indian Ocean was one of the numerous theatres of World War II, and was a vital maritime route for troop convoys and supplies to the Australian and Commonwealth war effort in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. German auxiliary cruisers, merchant raiders and u-boat submarines were a constant threat to allied merchant shipping throughout the Indian Ocean and even in waters surrounding Australia. HMAS Canberra was initially used for patrols and convoy escort duties around Australian waters and in 1940 was tasked along with other Royal Australian Navy warships to escort convoys between Freemantle, Colombo and Cape Town.
In February 1941, HMAS Canberra participated in efforts to locate and destroy the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, which had ventured as far as the Seychelles from its distant hunting grounds of the Southern Atlantic Ocean. In early March 1941, HMAS Canberra encountered two German merchant ships which attempted to flee prompting Canberra to open fire. These ships turned out to be the raider supply ship “Coburg” and a captured Norwegian tanker “Ketty Brovig”. Both vessels were scuttled by their crews. This was also in the waters around the Seychelles.
Shortly after, Arnold Pearce Partington passed away after suffering from an acute attack of appendicitis on 06 April 1941. HMAS Canberra was in the vicinity of Mauritius at the time and elected to have him buried at the Military Cemetery in Phoenix.
He is the only service member of the Australian armed forces to be buried in Mauritius. But he has been honoured and remembered in Mauritus and the Seychelles on this 100th aniversary of ANZAC Day. At a meeting at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture at ESPACE Building, H.E. Susan Coles, the Australian High Commissioner accredited to Seychelles presented Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture with a copy of the Booklet “ANZACs in the Indian Ocean” in the presence of Benjamine R