Soldier close to home a world away
Trumpet and bugle player for the Australian Army Band, Sergeant Danny Dielkens has been preparing to return close to his homeland to play the Last Post at the Anzac Day dawn service in France.
CAPTION: Trumpet and bugle player for the Australian Army Band Sergeant Danny Dielkens in the practice room of the Band of the Royal Military College – Duntroon in Canberra. Story by Lieutenant Carolyn Martin. Photo by Sergeant Oliver Carter.
Sergeant Dielkens grew up in Berbroek, a village in eastern Belgium, about 270 km from the Sir John Monash Centre – the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in northern France.
“It is very close to home. Close but not quite,” he said.
Sergeant Dielkens lived in Belgium until he was 28, then migrated with his new wife Marjolijn Kindt and one-year-old daughter Hannelore after exploring Australia on their honeymoon.
“I always wanted to find out what was going on on the other side of the world, so we saved up for a year and toured Australia for a month on our honeymoon,” he said.
“We saw the Blue Mountains in NSW, visited Kangaroo Island in SA, went across to Esperance in WA, watched the sunrise over Uluru and went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.
“We fell in love with the landscapes and the big horizons.”
The young couple started filling out their visa application to move to Australia on the flight back home to Belgium. A year later they were living in Adelaide and Sergeant Dielkens was answering a job advertisement for a trumpet player in the Army Band.
He will mark 20 years in the Army next year and said he was very proud to have been chosen to play the Last Post at the dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux this year.
As well as honouring all Anzacs who have served, and those still serving, he will remember his grandfather, Jozef Pipeleers, who was conscripted into the Belgium Army as a driver during WW2.
“Jozef was taking an officer from point A to point B at the start of the war in the eastern part of Belgium but by the time they arrived at point B, it was overrun by Germans,” Sergeant Dielkens said.
“They were captured. The Germans kept the officer and he returned to the Allies. On return, Josef was court marshalled and sent to jail until the end of the war for delivering an officer into the hands of the enemy.”
Sergeant Dielkens said his grandfather’s treatment had a lasting impact and he rarely talked about the war.