Family legacy honoured at Gallipoli

23 April 2024

Standing on the hallowed shores of Gallipoli, representing a nation and playing at the Anzac Day dawn service is one of the biggest stages an ADF musician can play on.  

For Able Seaman Musician Jessie Bartlett, the significance hits close to home as she discovered a rich family history with four brave ancestors, who were wounded and ultimately sacrificed their lives during World War 1.  

“This is a really special honour and I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to be representing Australia,” she said.

“Now that I know my own family members served and died right near where the service is held, it’s a reminder that I’m a tiny part of a huge organisation with so much history and sacrifice.”

Delving into her family history and the battle in Gallipoli, Able Seaman Bartlett said it was chilling and humbling to read their accounts and envisage their heroism. 

“Reading the letters that Private Joseph Horrocks [ancestor] wrote to his family was a very chilling experience. He writes about the landing at Gallipoli, saying ‘It put a funny feeling in a man being fired at in an open boat’ and ‘The first three days fighting were the hardest we had’,” she said. 

Private Horrocks is featured in the famous 1915 Aussie diggers Cheop’s Pyramid photo. He was wounded soon after during the Gallipoli campaign and later died of his injuries on board HMHS Soudan

“I can’t even start to imagine the fear and exhaustion they would have felt, and it gave me a whole new appreciation of what they went through,” she said. 

Able Seaman Bartlett will visit Privates Edwin and Joseph Horrocks’ inscriptions on the memorial panel at Lone Pine to pay her respects before the dawn service at Anzac Cove. 

“I know it is going to be confronting to think about what all the soldiers faced so many years ago in the very same location where we will be standing,” she said. 

Keeping her family legacy alive, Able Seaman Bartlett said that to her, Anzac Day was a time to reflect on her family’s service and sacrifice, and to appreciate the freedoms she enjoys today. 

“It is a day to reflect, to think about those who have served in the past, the sacrifices that have been made, and the devastating effects of war,” she said. 

“Especially as a member of the ADF, it makes me so thankful of the relative peace in Australia and how lucky I am that it’s not me or my loved ones in the situations that my ancestors and countless other people had to face.”

While her career will surely take a different path to that of her ancestors, Able Seaman Bartlett is keen to take every opportunity in her stride and has already proven her enthusiasm to serve. 

The Melbourne-born local began her Defence career in the Australian Army Reserve Band in 2021. Enjoying her time in the Army Reserve, and having past experience performing on cruise ships, she took a full-time opportunity with the Royal Australian Navy Band and swapped her greens for greys in 2022.

“I really enjoyed my time as a reservist; it gave me a great taste of life as an ADF musician. So when the full-time saxophone position was advertised in the Navy band I jumped at the opportunity,” she said.

“I also used to work as a musician on cruise ships, and although I am fully aware that cruise ships and Navy ships are very different, I loved being at sea and I hope to go to sea with the Navy at some point too.”

Although it will be hard to top performing at Anzac Cove, Able Seaman Bartlett hopes that her career will continue to bring new experiences that connect her to the legacy of her ancestors. 

“I really do love my job. I’m looking forward to all of the exciting possibilities and where it might take me, and I hope I make them [ancestors] proud,” she said.



Story type

Related services




Recommended stories