First woman to read The Ode
FOR Ashleigh Tye-Johnson Anzac Day has always been "Pop's day”.
Mrs Tye-Johnson has walked by her grandfather's side for as many dawn services as she can remember, but this year will be a little different.
He grandfather, Warrant Officer 1st Class George Stephen Biddlecombe, died last year, but she knows he will be right by her side as she takes on The Ode at the Bargara service this year.
"It's a very big honour for me,” she said.
"I wish he was here to see it.”
Warrant Officer Biddlecombe served in the Australian Army from 1953 to 1982 which included duties in Malaya, Malaysia, Borneo and Vietnam.
Mrs Tye-Johnson will be the first female to read The Ode at the Bargara Dawn Service in the event's 23-year history.
"It will be very special, especially at Bargara,” she said.
"It's an amazing venue. The setting and the atmosphere of the dawn service out there is amazing.”
While she knows it will be an emotional service as the first without her grandfather, Mrs Tye-Johnson is beyond thrilled to be given the opportunity to honour those who have served.
She recalled Anzac Days where her grandfather and his digger mates would tell their service stories.
"That's one of the days they felt the most comfortable sharing,” she said.
"Last year we didn't know it would be our last year with him but went back to the club, sat and had some drinks, and him and five or six of his friends would sit and tell stories.
"It was Pop's day. We all have our traditons and Anzac Day was spending time with him.”
Mrs Tye-Johnson said her brother Bendan was the one to follow the family tradition.
Third in his family lineage to serve in the Army, Corporal Brendan Gaut-Tye has served with the Royal Australian Armoured Corps including postings with the 2nd Calvary Regiment, 1st Armoured Regiment and the Defence Force School of Languages.
Corporal Gaut-Tye was deployed to Iraq in 2016 to 2017 on Operation OKRA and was awarded the Australian Defence Medal and the Operational Service Medal - Greater Middle-East Region.
Mrs Tye-Johnson said her grandfather left his medals to his grandson - her brother - a person she thought well deserving of the prized items.
"That's where they should be,” she said.
"He's got the amazing honour this year of wearing them.”
Mrs Tye-Johnson has been a member of the Bargara Remembers Committee for three years and said it was her grandfather who encouraged her to join.
She said during an Anzac service he noticed a few things didn't go quite the right way, so he and his friends noted what changes had to be made.
"I emailed the Bargara members to see if I could participate in a debrief and that's how it started,” she said.
"I was able to put George's suggestions forward and they incorporated them that following year.
"Pop loved that I was a part of the group and he took pride in that.”