Anzac Day 2018: Mandurah veteran Dave Mabbs reflects on his time in service

Mateship and family.

That’s what will be at the forefront Dave Mabbs’ mind as he addresses the crowd at Mandurah’s Anzac Day dawn service next Wednesday.

A third-generation serviceman and our current local RSL vice president, Mr Mabbs’ ties to the Australian Army are as strong as they come.

His great uncle James Winning was buried at Gallipoli, while his maternal grandfather Hugh Winning served two years on the western front before being injured, repatriated to England and finally returning to the front where he and his brother Douglas survived World War I.

The surname Mabbs has become synonymous with the Australian Army. Photo: Justin Rake.

The surname Mabbs has become synonymous with the Australian Army. Photo: Justin Rake.

His paternal grandfather, Geoffrey Mabbs, served with the 2/28th Battalion in World War II in the Middle East and New Guinea, where he sustained a gunshot wound under the arm and was treated before rejoining the company, while his father Raymond served between conflicts as both a soldier and engineer.

Mr Mabbs’ own time in military service spanned a 22-year stint, enlisting in 1977.

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His original plan to join infantry backfired when his grandfather Winning offered him advice and a “clip around the ears” to go with it, imploring him to sign up to the supply ranks instead.

He served as a soldier and was deployed to Cambodia in 1993, before finally being discharged years later and settling in Mandurah.

He has been an integral part of the city’s RSL sub-branch since then, making him an integral part of our Anzac Day commemorations.

Dave Mabbs' connection to the Australian Army is as strong as it gets. Photo: Justin Rake.

Dave Mabbs' connection to the Australian Army is as strong as it gets. Photo: Justin Rake.

“Anzac Day to me is an emotional journey, as I remember each and every one of my forefathers,” he said.

“That’s why I volunteer so much of my time for it – I’ve been out of the army 17 years now and have been marching in Mandurah for 17 years.”

Mr Mabbs also has the honour of emceeing the city’s dawn service, a task that he says brings about great pride along with many memories of the people he met during his time in uniform.

“I’ll often reflect on the blokes I served with, and slap as many of them on the back as I can,” he said.

“You make mates in the army and they’re lifetime friends, they become brothers, they are your family.

“And we’re all still connected – just this morning I was talking to an old friend about the time we were drinking liqueurs with flames on them and he burnt his moustache off.

“It’s those sorts of times that get you through the hardship, and they always seem to surface around Anzac Day.”