Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ANZAC Day 2007

G'day all!

Thanks to those who have offered suggestions for the fleece washing. I shall follow them up tomorrow, when the shops are open again.

Anzac Day 2007. I thought this year I would go to the march or the dawn service (though I am not exactly a godly type). After all, it is likely to be my only chance for the next couple of years or more. So I was starting to get a plan together. That is before Nathan got the snots, literally, and the hacking cough and then threw his back out (poor thing can hardly move), and merrily shared his disease with me. At least his cough is dying down now that he is on antibiotics (or it may have anyway) and he didn't keep *me* awake half the night.....

So Anzac Day this year involves many tissues and much grumping at the people who are starting to develop a derelict block across the road. It is a public holiday, it is ANZAC DAY ferchrissakes and they are out with their chainsaws chopping down Even More Trees.

Oh yes, we are very very underimpressed with them chopping down at least two very tall gum trees. They took them out yesterday. We don't mind the cherry plums and weedy trees being taken out but these trees were enormous and lovely. The trees made it look like a park, albeit an overgrown park but a park nonetheless. Then *They* started again with the chainsaw at 8am this morning, despite it being *the* most sacred day on the Australian secular calendar (and it being against council bylaws and all). Even the shops don't open on Anzac Day until noon! Crikey!

Anyway, what tales do I have to tell on this Anzac Day. You've heard earlier tales last year and the year before. Hmmm.... Pictures and quotes today are from cards my Pop send home. They are Sacred War Relics in my family.

I guess that people outside Oz and NZ will not really know what ANZAC stands for. (The) Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who fought in the First World War. My Pop (grandfather) fought at Gallipoli/Anzac Cove (and if you read that link, you will be amazed by the massive loss of life, and the sheer stupidity of landing me on coves that back onto sand dunes and cliffs!). So many men died simply because their chief commander was incompetent. So many men died because Churchill stole the Turkish battleships. Ridiculous.



Pop started off by going to Egypt, which was the staging post for the attack on Turkey (Gallipoli). He wrote two postcards, same picture of the HMA Makarini (Makarini was a great Maori chieftain). The one to his sister effectively says "having a great trip, will send post cards for Christmas." The one to his brother says "this is our troop ship we came in hope I am not on a troop ship again."





Pop then went to the Battle of the Somme. He was a member of the 4th, 2nd and 1st Divisions at various stages I think and greatly enjoyed the machine guns that they used ("funny things like pipes Are Lewis gunns rate of fire 750 A minute Etc. I have jumped them into Action Twice when MG was wiped out. Great gunns to stop a Rush."). The French women were lovely. "Hope you are well has it leaves me. We are having A good time over here with good weather but will soon have winter." I don't think he liked the war itself though. He suffered wounds on more than one occasion and deserted at one point (we suspect he may have met a girl). From what I can make out of his military record, he was Trouble. He got busted a lot. He was declared missing in action after being severely wounded (half your face shot off is severely wounded, wouldn't you say?) and left behind during a retreat. But he survived, in one form or another, unlike many many thousands of his compatriots, and spawned a whacky family ;-)

(Do you like the symbols on the machine gun card? The blue flowers up the top are supposed to be rosemary, for remembrance, and then there is a rose for England, a shamrock for the Irish and a thistle for Scotland. No ANZ references though.)



He spent a lot of time in camps in England, with this notable mention of a camp of Salisbury Plains. "Salisbury Plains, Stonehenge. Centre of the largest two up school ever in the world. Used to gather here every Sunday after church parade.... " (you can read more of it here.) Can you believe that they played two-up in and around Stonehenge?


Gallipoli and the Western Front forged an identity for my country, and for the Kiwis too. Odd how so much death could bring a nation together. One of the greatest heroes of Gallipoli was Simpson (and his donkey). Funnily enough, Simpson was not even an Australian. Sir John Monash forged a career in the military (though I believe he was a talented engineer). Monash Uni was named for him.


(At least one more symbol - the viola, for "I will be true" ie faithful)
After WWI, thousands of maimed men came home to wives and sweethearts and new lives. Ones like my Pop I don't think ever really recovered. Then it all happened again in WWII, only a LOT closer to home. The Japs raided Darwin not just once but scores of times! They were in New Guinea. Two mini-subs entered Sydney Harbour! I wish I had asked my parents more about WWII because they lived through it but I didn't. My father was in a protected industry, teaching women how to weld and build vehicles. He wasn't allowed to go to war. Did he get a white feather? How did the people respond to the threat from the Japs? Lost opportunities and all that. I have to say though, after the treatment handed out to allied troop POWs by the Japanese, it isn't surprising that many of them went to their graves still hating anything Japanese.

Then there was Korea and Vietnam and and and.... At least I can see the point of WWI and II. There was a genuine threat there. But these days? Umm, nope. I just don't get it. As far as I can see, it is a way for Dubya's daddy's cronies to feather their nests. I feel sorry for the troops that are in Iraq (and Afghanistan), for the ones who desert and have to live in Canada,(not that living in Canada is bad but having to leave their country because their beliefs do not allow them to kill non-Enemies), for the poor blasted Iraqis (and Afghans), most of whom just want to rebuild their lives and live in peace....

War! What is it good for?


Lest we forget.

4 comments:

  1. Good for absolutely nothing. (Though it has cheered me up to think of Tom Jones and Herc and Xena Warrior Princess!!!) I enjoyed your ANZAC tale. Oh, what boogelly over the road people. What good luck you will not be here!!

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  2. Wow - what a great Pause for thought and What a time your Pop seems to have had. Have to agree with you on the pointlessness of all these latest conflicts. My borother always says that if there was oil in Tibet the Americans would have come to 'the rescue' years ago.
    Oh and boo to the tree cutters!

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  3. Thanks for sharing that - it was cool to get a personal look at history I'm not that familiar with.

    "Absolutely nothing."

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  4. Anonymous4:56 am

    Thanks for sharing your memories - now that I think about it Stonehenge is such a screamingly obvious two-up ring that the Druids must have invented the game.
    Did you (or any fellow comment-leavers) watch "Curtin" on the Aunty the other night? After shafting us at Gallipoli in WWI, British High Command did *exactly* the same thing in the South Pacific in WWII. I was mightly stirred, I was. Just goes to show - not only is war good for absolutely nothing, that's about how much gets learnt from each one, too.

    Darrow

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