Phill O'Neill


HMAS Canberra I memorial service

Playing the Last Post is something I have always held in high esteem. Growing up as a kid my family always had a high respect for the men and women who serve in the Australian Defence Force. My grandfather was a cook in the Royal Australian Air Force, my father always wanted to be a musician in the Royal Australian Air Force also. My older brother served in the Australian Army Reserves.  I guess no one could be surprised when I joined the Australian Defence Force Band as soon as I turned 17. 

I remember my very first Last Post bugle call for the Royal Australian Navy. It was a memorial service to remember the service and sinking of the first HMAS Canberra. I remember the service all too well because it was a freezing cold morning in Canberra and my winter ceremonials were certainly put to the warmth test. Meeting the many veterans who served on HMAS Canberra I and II, and hearing their stories on naval life I feel an extra sense of pride to be a current serving member posted to HMAS Canberra III. Here I have created my own stories which I will share with them upon my return to Australia.

Whilst serving on HMAS Canberra we celebrated the anniversary of the first HMAS Canberra's sinking and I feel very privileged to have been aboard Canberra III to be a part of the commemorative service. HMAS Canberra was sunk 9th August 1942 by the Japanese just before 2am in the Solomon Islands. The Japanese hit Canberra 24 times in less than 2 minutes, killing 84 people before the ship was sunk the following day by the US.

These experiences are why I am honoured to be a musician in the Royal Australian Navy. Working alongside the men and women of the armed forces, seeing the sacrifices they make every day to keep Australia a safe place  for everyone who lives here.

Happy Practising.