Anzac Day 2023 | Our Stories Of Service

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the day when Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on the beach at Gallipoli in Türkiye on 25 April 1915. 

Today, communities across Australia will gather to commemorate and recognise more than a hundred thousand Australian service men and women who have lost their lives in military operations carried out in our country’s name, as well as those who continue to serve and defend Australia.

This year, we’re sharing the stories of service from Calvary residents and employees, many of whom still dedicate their lives to serve in Australian Defence Force roles, whilst continuing to serving those in our care.

Celebrating Anzac Day | Our stories

James 'Jim' McCracken | Store Person, Calvary Riverina Hospital

Jim spent 37 years in the RAAF and after leaving full-time service, now continues to serve in the Reserves alongside his role at Calvary.

Whilst in full-time service, Jim’s role was similar to running an airport but on military bases, out in the bush and on deployments setting up an air terminal for the duration of the operation.

The team handled both passengers and a variety of cargo daily – even airfreighting a live camel from Darwin to Alice Springs!

Throughout his career, Jim deployed on humanitarian missions to Indonesia, Tonga and The Philippines as well as foreign operations in warlike conditions. Jim also completed postings to overseas bases in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea as well as to air force bases all across Australia before settling in his final location, in Wagga Wagga.

“My ADF service has taught me a number of things;

  • attention to detail;
  • a strong work ethic; and
  • instilled a sense of urgency.

These things come in handy in all aspects of my work at Calvary.

My advice? If it feels overwhelming… take a deep breath.”

Alison Zilko | After Hours Manager, Calvary Bruce Private Hospital

Alison Zilko has been an After Hours Manager at Calvary Bruce Private Hospital for the past 13 years and is also a serving Reservist Nursing Officer (Navy) in the Australian Defence Force.


Alison’s role in the military is twofold; in her first position as a Registered Nurse she deploys regularly on Navy vessels, using her emergency experience gathered from her local hospital to help train and educate military personnel on pre-hospital trauma, and how to manage unwell patients at sea. She also deploys with multinational forces to countries in the South Pacific and South East Asia providing humanitarian support and education to countries where health care and living is less than ideal.


Alison also serves as a Gender Advisor, a crucial role providing education, support, understanding and guidance in all aspects of Women, Peace and Security. This position has seen her deploy to Northern Europe and Asia providing guidance to the communities, and strategic results back to headquarters on issues affecting Women Peace and Security in these regions.


This year, Alison will be once again deploy with a multinational force as a Gender Advisor, visiting communities and talking to the women of the villages to gather a greater understanding on peace and security issues that will affect them, and developing long term friendships and relationships.


On Anzac Day 2023, Alison will be attending a solemn dawn service on a beach in a foreign land, reflecting on the sacrifices made by our Anzacs many years ago, and hoping for peace and stability as we move forward into uncertain times.

“Whether I’m sailing on the high seas, or running between wards dealing with multiple problems, the Calvary values of respect and stewardship flow through all aspects of my nursing- Respect and compassion for all people from all cultures and diverse backgrounds, and stewardship as a compassionate strong leader.”

Liz Frederickson | Nurse Unit Manager, Calvary John James Hospital

Liz joined the Air Force Reserves in 2007, with the ambition to perform humanitarian work within an organisation which provided safety.

From 2012 – 2014, Liz was posted to East Sale where she worked at the Air Force health centre:

“[East Sale] was a fantastic, family-friendly location. My oldest two children were toddlers. They went to day care on the base, we had play group on the base. I worked at the Air Force health centre. This community support that the ADF are very good at, was exactly what my family needed at that time.”

In 2018, Liz deployed to the Middle East Region as the Officer in Charge of the Australian Health Detachment:

“This was an incredibly rewarding experience, personally and professionally. It still amazes me how the human body adapts to its environment. It was 55 degrees Celsius nearly every day while I was away. I would wait until it had cooled down to 30-35 to go for a run at night.”

“My military experience has contributed to my ability as a leader and manager at Calvary John James Hospital. I have a very good understanding of both the tactical and strategic goings on within the hospital. I am overall very calm and am able to co-ordinate and delegate to my team.

I have a very good understanding of leading and being part of a team. I do not ask of my team to do anything I am not prepared to do myself. I am truly thankful to John James and Sarah Black, in particular, for the ongoing support of me maintaining a dual career.”

Margaret 'Peg' Mortimer | Resident, Calvary St Catherine's Residential Aged Care

Peg was in the first group from South Australia to join the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS). On her first deployment to Sandy Creek, near Gawler, Peg recalls her surprise to find large sacks which the group had to fill with straw for their mattresses:


“There were very limited provisions and facilities for women at that time. Our boys were still being sent to Egypt.”


Peg’s job was as an army stenographer, preparing the embarkation rolls for each soldier which recorded every item they took with them. We were saddened to read many of these same names in the Advertiser newspaper’s casualty lists.



During her time here, Peg was promoted to Corporal before the entire training camp was moved to Woodside in the Adelaide Hills:


“My memories of Woodside are of frozen buckets outside our huts, but happy times dancing the jitterbug when off duty! We had an old 78 record player given to us which was fun and provided some entertainment. After a wait we were finally issued with our uniforms – up until that time we wore our own clothes.”


Peg’s next move was to Dubbo in NSW and from there to Greta where we were informed that the camp had two sections Silver City and Chocolate City – aptly named due to one row of huts having galvanised iron roofs and the other being painted brown!


Peg’s next settlement was in Bonegilla, Victoria specifically to work for the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the camp, sometimes handling sensitive material and intelligence matters.


Peg’s final destination was to Sydney, to Strathfield Women’s Army accommodation, where she met girls from across Australia as well as another particularly special encounter:


“I travelled to work daily by train to the Docks Services Battalion on the Parramatta River. Myself and the only other female there were directed to have meals in the Sergeants’ Mess at Port Maintenance across the river. Here I met my future husband who had returned from active service in Papua New Guinea on the Kokoda Track.”


It was whilst Peg was still in Sydney that peace was declared with Japan. Peg recalls how everyone descended upon the city, caught up in the “euphoric atmosphere” of Martin Place:


“Celebrations were underway with everyone singing and dancing, people from many nationalities joining together to witness this monumental moment in history. When the war was officially over we were sent back to Adelaide and discharged from the Army. Three and a half years had gone by.”