Saturday, April 25, 2015

25th April 1915

We've been deluged with all the hoopla around the Gallipoli centenary commemorations. I was astounded to learn that Australian governments (Fed and State), as well as private sponsorship, have spent around $400,000,000 on it - roughly twice that of Britain, France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand COMBINED!

There's a lot of regular army & RSL big wigs, politicians and big end of town people involved in all this and we've been asking ourselves, what is the pupose of all the hoopla??? 

I don't think we have any close family connection to Gallipoli. Although my maternal grandmother Millie had a brother (Mum's Uncle) - Percy Richards - Private PC Richards AAMC - whose name is listed on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial (panel 183). This means he saw active duty overseas and died as a result of the war although his death is recorded as the 19th February 1919. Percy was in the Australian Army Medical Corp and no one apparently kept formal records of the Corp's involvement in WW1. They were under the command of the British and the Brits obviously didn't think it was necessary.  Perhaps Percy was sent to Egypt with the first lot of Light Horse Brigade volunteers and saw some of the horrors of ANZAC Cove - we don't know that yet! 

The pic below is of William Dutton my maternal Grandfather's brother (Mum's Uncle) who died in France on the 28th August 1917. He would have just turned 25. He was wounded under shell fire at Hell Fire Corner on the Menin road, Ypres and died soon after. He is buried at New Military Cemetery No 3, Brandhoek, Flanders, Belgium. His name is on Panel 21of the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial. I know he enlisted in 1914 and sent letters back to his darling "Annie" from Egypt and this photo was taken at a studio in Southampton England, so William saw something of the world in his three years in the Australian army-probably more of it than he wanted at the time.

My mother's mother lost her husband in 1916 (although not as a result of the War), her young brother-in - law in 1917 and her brother in 1919. Young women, mothers, sisters and wives all over Australia must have experienced similar losses. From what I can gather they and the men involved did not celebrate or commemorate ANZAC Day after the war. Nor did the enlisted men hold the RSL in high regard either after their war service. Certainly the RSL didn't welcome Aboriginal servicemen, women or children anywhere near any of their commemorations for many years - and later on even the Vietnam vets were left out in the cold by the RSL! 

Rob's paternal Grandfather George Ludlow saw service in France too in WW1 and luckily survived although everyone said those bits of shell that remained lodged in his skull did not help his moods much in the post war years - but he still lived a good long life despite that. 

Rob's maternal Grandmother Lilly used to keep up postcard correspondence with friends and family members serving overseas in WW1.

The postcard below was sent from France by her cousin Albert on the 21st June 1917. He writes a very understated and chatty postcard...I wonder what his true situation was...
Dear Lilly Your welcome letter dated 20.4.17 is to hand. Pleased to hear from you once again and know that you are keeping well and enjoying yourselves. Just fancy Norman over in England now; he seems to have enjoyed himself on the way over. That experience would just suit him I suppose. It will be along time before he comes to France. Anyway it is hoped that he never gets this far. There is enough here now. How is Myrtle getting on? Just fancy Ida getting married; I suppose I will hear next that you are going to get married. Dear Lilly this is all, your loving Cousin Albert.

And Grandma Lilly sent this card to her friend Will  in France on the 20th October 1918, just three weeks before Armistice day.

But the centenary commemoration of the 25th April 1915 also has other meanings for our family. 

My Dad was born on that fateful day - which would make him 100 today had he lived (Dad died in March 1981).

Our Dad was quite the pacifist. He joined the Australian army in WW2 like most young men did (the pic below was probably taken in 1940) but war horrified him. Like most men and women of his generation, not from the regular army ranks, he never had much time for Anzac day "celebrations" or any suggestion that war should be glorified in any way.

Dad served the army in Australia - making munitions as an expert tool maker mostly.  His life was about a lot more than his few years in the army (luckily). 

This is my favourite pic of Dad aged 64 - taken at the very end of 1979 in Canberra with a gorgeous young Davey boy.

You can see a lot of Dad in his three grandsons: Davey, Josh and Joel. Davey has his big brown eyes, Joshy has his profile and Joel has his build (and certain expressions). All three young men have the same great focus and dexterity as their Grandfather and show the same capacity for love, support and care as he did. 

As you can see despite all the hoopla about the ANZAC centenary commemoration and too many politicians, entrepreneurs and military types hijacking the agenda, it has resulted in quite a bit of reflection for me - but I still can't work out what it is all about.


davey said...

What a lovely read Judy thank you. You know what - I reckon that army picture of Stan looks the image of Joely! Xx

Maxine said...

Thank you Judy. I really enjoyed reading this. And yes I agree with Davey - Joely looks so much like Dad in that photo.

judy l said...

I agree with you Jude, Paul Keating had it right when he said "Gallipoli has not Australia's coming of age" and he would never set foot there.Could have saved ourselves $400m.

Roslyn Lawrence said...

What a lovely post Judy. As usual I have learnt so much I didn't know before. It has always baffled me why every year there seems to be more people getting involved in Anzac Day. Why????
Anzac day of course has always meant a lot to me because of Dad. Yes I have always thought Joel looks like Dad. So enjoyed the photos and history. xx