When Air Force musician Leading Aircraftman Michael Fraser played the Last Post at the Lone Pine service in Gallipoli, he was also honouring his great-uncle, Private Reg Brooker.
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force musician Leading Aircraftman Michael Fraser plays the Last Post at the Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Türkiye. Photo by Corporal Madhur Chitnis.
It’s the third time Leading Aircraftman Fraser has played at an Anzac Day service in Gallipoli, but he said the shine never wears off from being part of such a significant event for Australia and his family.
“It’s very special to take that role of playing the Last Post knowing that someone from my family had fought here,” he said.
On 25 April 1915, Private Brooker was an infantryman with Queensland’s 9th Battalion and was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the Anzac beachhead on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Private Brooker was injured in the fighting but continued to serve there until December 1915.
Over the next two years, the 9th Battalion was involved in fighting on the Western Front, most notably at Pozières in the Somme Valley and the 3rd Battle of Ypres in Belgium.
On 30 October 1917, Private Brooker was killed in action during the Battle of Passchendaele.
He has no known grave but is remembered with honour on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.
As well as the Defence link, Leading Aircraftman Fraser has music in common with his mum’s uncle.
Before joining the Australian Imperial Force, Private Brooker was a tuba player and a member of the Towers Concert Band in Charters Towers, Queensland.
For Fraser, playing the trumpet has been a lifelong passion and one that took him to the Royal Australian Air Force in the first place.
“All I ever wanted to do was play the trumpet, so there are only a handful of opportunities that can provide that,” he said.
“My music teacher had done a stint as an Army trumpeter, so I was always aware of the opportunities in Defence.”
He studied music at the Victorian College of the Arts and joined the Royal Australian Air Force Band in 2002.
Fraser played the Last Post at the Lone Pine service on Anzac Day along with the French equivalent for the French service on 24 April.