Tag Archives: army

ANZAC Day 25th April, 2019.

This morning, our son and I attended the local ANZAC Day march and commemoration service. Indeed, as a Scout, our son was in the march and even carried the Australian flag. I must apologize that the photo is a little historic, but it can be difficult to get teenagers to comply. I’m sure you understand.

ANZAC Day is an incredibly deep and reflective day for us on a personal level. Geoff has family who served in just about every conflict and his Great Uncle, Robert Ralph French, was killed in Action in France. That was his grandmother’s much loved brother and since he had no children of his own, we’ve embraced him and our children will carry his memory forward.

DSC_3647.JPG

In addition to thinking about these sacrifices, today I also reflected on the format of the commemoration service and how it’s probably the last bastion of tradition in our ephemeral contemporary world. Even after all these years and long after the Australian national anthem was changed to Advance Australia Fair, we sing God Save the Queen on ANZAC Day instead. I don’t know how that went at other locations, but where we were, there weren’t too many singing along. Many didn’t know the words and I also wonder how many didn’t feel right singing it either. We’ve moved a long way forward as a nation since then both in terms of gaining independence from Britain, but also in acknowledging and embracing our Aboriginal heritage. That Australia wasn’t “terra nullus” after all.

The service also includes two traditional hymns: God Our Hope in Ages Past and Abide With Me. The only voice I could hear singing was the minister on the microphone. I sang along but there was silence all around me. I felt it would have been helpful to have a choir leading the singing or have groups practice these hymns beforehand. It sounds dreadful when no one is singing along, just like at a silent funeral.

DSC_3674

I feel this dog has earned the right be be an “Australian Digger”…slang for soldier.

I wonder how these traditions are going to go moving forward. Are they set in stone? Or, will future generations find a new means of expression?

Meanwhile, I made fresh ANZAC Biscuits when we got home and then watched a bit of the dawn service in Gallipoli and France. The ANZAC Biscuits have been an important part of my tradition and a way of expressing my gratitude. There’s something for me about pouring your emotions into food and sharing that with those you love.

I’ll leave you with this poem:

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)

Lest we forget.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Just thought I’d mention that Geoff ended up being called into work for several hours last night and hence he wasn’t at the march but watching the march on the TV at home.

Fighting War on A Different Front…Army Dentists WWII.

While it was all very well for our Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies to follow Britain’s lead and declare war on Germany on the 3rd September, 1939, the reality was that our troops were far from ready to go.

Indeed, it appears that our young men had stuck their tooth brushes where the sun don’t shine, and their teeth were just as black. Just to give you some idea of the full scale of the problem, in September 1939 in regional Victoria of 2,477 men examined, only 301 were classed as dentally fit and many of those had upper and lower dentures.That’s not a lot of pearly whites!

With the army struggling to treat almost universal dental annihilation, the NSW branch of the Australian Dental Association set up a clinic at the showgrounds where a team of 80 volunteer dentists worked in relays of twelve. These volunteers included my grandfather, Bob Curtin, who had a dental practice in Macquarie Street and you can see him hard at work in the photo above.

By the time the clinic closed in September 1941, 66,991 teeth had pulled out along with giving 97,763 fillings and supplying 19,318 dentures. I can’t help wondering what happened to all those teeth and whether they’ve all been stashed somewhere in one of these construction holes you see in the ground. I’ve never thought of teeth as landfill before but given those numbers, disposing of all those teeth must’ve been a consideration. Or, perhaps the tooth fairy took off with the lot. In that case, leaving a penny under all those bottles of beer, must’ve cost her a pretty penny.

Army dentists cartoon 1940

Not unsurprisingly, the soldiers themselves were less than enthusiastic about fronting up to the dentist. Indeed, one soldier we’ll just call “Jack” spilled the beans on what was known as the “Dental Clinic Racket”. This was not only a way of avoiding the dentist. It had the added bonus of getting them out of all sorts of duties so they could head off to their “bung-hole” (bed) instead:

“To secure, immunity from distasteful tasks by this means a soldier would first make an appointment with the clinic. He would show the appointment slip to the sergeant and be sent away from the kitchen, or some other fatigue to keep the appointment. At the clinic he would plead some excuse for delay, and the dentists, always willing to oblige, almost invariably agreed, to make an appointment for another day, The soldier was then free to go to his”bung-hole” and rest. But we have a checking system from today which will kill that dodge. Of course, in a day or so, the boys will think up a new one.”

Jack then goes on to say that the dental clinic made a raid on his unit that morning:

“All the boys were examined for dental defects, and if extractions were required, hustled straight over to get the works. I’ve seen some of those boys rush up a hill with fixed bayonets, yelling like madmen. The enemy was only imaginary, but I know that they would, and-will, do tho same when shot and shell are flying. But when these men were told to face the Dental Corps they paled, and almost had to be driven to the clinic. If the Dental Corps, had the same effect on an enemy, they would make ideal front line troops.”

Eunice & Robert Wedding

The marriage of Eunice Gardiner & Robert Vincent Curtin at St Mary’s Cathedral 1940.

As it turned out, 1940 was a busy year for my grandfather. That photo appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday 2nd July, 1940. While my grandfather was flat out trying to maintain his dental practice while volunteering out at the showground, a young concert pianist had returned from London to tour Australia with the ABC under famous English conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham. While I’m not exactly sure of when they arrived in Australia it would appear they arrived in March, 1940. At some point along the way, my grandmother was in Sydney and had a toothache. Her brother Les had gone through school with my grandfather and I’m not too sure if that’s how she ended up there with that toothache. However, that was the beginning of a new chapter in our history. They were engaged n the 23rd August, 1940 and married in December.

Well, wrapping this up has been a bit of a rush job as I’m off to a concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music tonight and I want to potter around for a bit while I’m down there.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

U – Ulverstone: Tasmanian Light Horse Memorial.


Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. As you may already know, we’re Travelling Alphabetically around Tasmania. Much of the details and the photographs in this series, came from trip to Tasmania in January. This was a family holiday to show their kids where Daddy came from, but it also came to connect us with Geoff’s late father and his family ties throughout Northern Tasmania. Due to the alphabetical nature of this challenge, we have skipped some of Tasmania’s better known places and landmarks, and gone where the alphabet takes us.

Map Ulverstone to Devonport

That is how we’ve ended up in U for Ulverstone today.  Ulverstone is on the mouth of the Leven River, on Bass Strait 21 kilometres (13 mi) west of Devonport and 12 kilometres (7 mi) east of Penguin. Penguin, by the way, is where Geoff’s Dad was born and raised and it’s also where his mother died when he was only nine years old.

For those of you who might not be aware, being the 25th of April, today is ANZAC Day.  Rather than explaining what ANZAC Day here, defer to the Australian War Memorial: https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/

So, we will be attending the dawn service in Ulverstone at the Cenotaph.

light_horsemen

It is quite apt that we’ve come to Ulverstone on ANZAC Day, as it is the site of the Tasmanian Light Horse Memorial. This acknowledges Ulverstone’s pivotal role in the formation of the Light Horse in Tasmania.

In 1899, Colonel Legge, the Commander of the Tasmanian Colonial Military Forces requested that the Tasmanian Government should raise a Reconnaissance Regiment to support two Tasmanian Ranger Infantry Units. The Tasmanian Government  granted the request and Colonel Legge selected the district of Ulverstone to form the mounted unit. This district was selected because Colonel Legge noted that the farmers were prosperous and there were many fine young men in the area and the horses were of a high standard. http://www.lighthorse.org.au/resources/units-in-service/22nd-light-horse

With the advent of World War One the 12 LHR was renamed the 26th Australian Light Horse Regiment (26 LHR). This unit provided officers, men and equipment to form a Tasmanian Squadron for service in World War One.”C” Squadron was posted to the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment (3LHR) that was being raised in South Australia. This first AIF unit served for seven months at Gallipoli before joining the Australian Mounted Division in Palestine where they served with honour until 1918. The 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, including the Tasmanian “C” Squadron cleared and held the hills to the right of the line during the last great cavalry charge at Beersheba.

Major James Norbert Griffin

Uncle Jim

Geoff’s Great Uncle, Major James Griffin, served in this C Squadron  3rd Regiment Light Horse, enlisting on the18th August, 1914. He was 24 years and 9 months old and a farmer from Dunorlan, near Deloraine. Later, his brother Daniel also joined the Light Horse. Both of these men returned, but so many did not. Such as Gunner Robert Ralph French, his Great Uncle of his Mum’s side, but still known throughout the family as “Nanna’s brother”. In WWII, two of Nanna’s sons served, thankfully both returned home but her nephew was Killed in Action.

Lest we forget.

My thoughts and prayers today are for those who have lost someone close to them through war. Or, have also survived the aftermath of these horrors, after service people returned home with severe PTSD. Geoff’s aunt talked to me about how women were encouraged to help the men settle in back home and in a sense “re-civilise” them, which was mighty unfair leaving women and children at serious risk of emotional and physical harm, something which really has been swept under the carpet and is only starting to be addressed with our current generation of service people and much more needs to be done.

Lest we forget!

Blessings,

Rowena

A link to a previous ANZAC Day post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/our-anzac-pilgrimage/

Quote: Living With Yourself.

“but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

–Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

As hard as it it to live with someone else, perhaps the most difficult person to live is ourselves.

After all, we live with our selves twenty four hours a day seven days a week from birth right through to eternity. That’s way longer than being stuck in the same lift with someone…anyone!!

When I was younger, I used to get frustrated when my Mum would think she knew me better than I knew myself. Who did she think she was? She wasn’t me. She wasn’t walking in my shoes. Indeed, she had her own shoes and she could jolly well step straight back in them and leave my shoes alone!!

However, I have lately come to appreciate that we only know ourselves from the inside out.. through our own eyes, our own experience and let’s faceit, when you’ve only been on the planet for 5 short years, your understanding of the bigger picture and wider world is extremely limited.

Those around us, particularly who know us well but also have a broader experience and knowledge of life, can not only see us but also where and how we might fit into the overall scheme of things. They can see abilities in us we might overlook or downplay as well because so many of us are our own worst critics. In putting ourselves down or aiming for a perfection we can never attain, we can completely dismiss our strengths and fail to become all we were meant to be.

Rowena sea steps

Returning to the quote, however, that deals more with our conscience. That it doesn’t matter what other people think or hold dear, we must be true to our own values and conscience. Stand up and be counted…even if we are the one…that lone voice calling out through the wilderness.

After all, only we need to live with ourselves…and our actions and inactions. No one else.

As Edmund Burke wrote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Moreover, for those of you who are a bit like me and feel you can’t do much, he also wrote:

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Edmund Burke

It is so much easier for us to point the finger out, instead of pointing it in and asking: “What is my role? What do I need to do? Not someone else…just me.

What are your views? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

I would like to thank Merril Smith for sharing the quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird, which inspired this post. You can read her post here: https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/walk-and-talk/

Weekend Coffee Share: Paris and the week that was.

Although the world is in mourning after the Paris atrocities, I still feel the need to get together for coffee this weekend.  Not out of defiance or as a show of resilience but because I need to be with friends. I want to talk about all of this and what it means. How I was walking the streets on Google Earth last week researching my book and how I can’t understand how this has happened…even though it’s no surprise. Our world is at war but it’s a war with new rules we’re all struggling to understand and work out, collectively and as individuals, how to respond.

Just reminder too, that we live in Greater Sydney, Australia so our time zones here could well be quite different to your own.

However, the week didn’t start or end with Paris so I’m going to rewind a little.  Although what happened here probably hasn’t made the news, we’ve had a few storms in our own tea cup and my nerves were well and truly fried before Paris.

Up until Thursday, I’d been making good progress on the Book Project and after 9 years of procrastination, self-doubt and false starts, I’ve finally made progress and it’s been wonderful. I’m almost delirious with joy. Thrilled.

Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

Poetry Reading Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris.

As I mentioned when we had coffee last week, the book starts in Paris in July 1992 when I did a poetry reading at the Shakespeare & Company Bookshop. I was only 21 and didn’t realise at the time how exceptional it was for a young 21 year old writer to get their own gig. After all, I was hardly Hemingway and had self-published my anthology on the photocopier.

At the Eiffel Tower in 1992

At the Eiffel Tower in 1992

For the last two weeks, I’ve moved heaven and earth trying to squeeze back into my 21 year old self and walk those streets again via Google maps.

It’s been an absolutely incredible journey where I’ve been living, breathing and all but eating Paris.

The mood started to change on Thursday when four Black Hawk helicopters flew overhead, just above our roof. This was the beginning of a terrifying ordeal where they were doing low-flying loops over our quiet, regional beach side town. The noise was unbelievable and that alone inspired terror. But what was the army doing here? I’ve never even seen one army helicopter here before. This was very unusual.

Living in a post 9/11 world, we’ve been told to watch out for unattended packages and to report suspicious activity. So, when we saw these four army helicopters doing loop after loop after loop of town, we were naturally concerned…i.e we panicked! The kids were really getting worried and upset and my heart was racing as well.

Black Hawk Helicopter.

Black Hawk Helicopter.

I rang my husband at work. Of course, my husband is fully capable to handling a national emergency. Daddy can do anything.

When Geoff suggested that there wouldn’t be four army helicopters out there for no reason, that just confirmed my worst fears. I locked the front door and grabbed the laptop. Surely, Google would know.

Well, it turned out to be a false alarm. It was an Army training exercise.

However, those helicopters did seem to herald in the forces of doom.

The Lifeguard's board wasn't much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

The Lifeguard’s board wasn’t much chop for taking on this almighty storm.

Friday afternoon, we were hit by an incredible hail storm. Stupid me who thinks “photography” when she sees huge, towering black clouds dripping incredibly menacing tentacles across the sky, headed down to the beach to get some shots. I ended up feeling like I was trapped inside my tin can with huge golf ball-sized lumps of hail pelting against the car just waiting for the windscreen to smash into a million pieces. Meanwhile at home, the hail had smashed through the office roof and rain was pouring in. Indeed, my keyboard was doing laps of my sodden desk.

Hail Stone.

Hail Stone.

Despite my medical condition, I was moving out piles of books and computer equipment while our daughter was chasing buckets and strategically placed them round the room. Mister wanted to get up on the roof and then went charging down the street to check on the neighbours as I pointed out that we were in crisis. I called the State Emergency Service and their volunteers saved the day, patching the roof with some corrugated iron sheets from the shed. Order was restored…aside from the mess!

The backyard after the storm.

The backyard after the storm.

This storm certainly concerned me because its intensity was uncharacteristically strong for around here, a reminder of another global crisis…global warming.

Our Border Collie doing his agility training...chasing his ball through the debris. He';s an addict!

Our Border Collie doing his agility training…chasing his ball through the debris. He’;s an addict!

I woke up on Saturday morning, feeling absolutely frazzled. My nerves were literally fried. What with the deafening din of military helicopters, I was wrecked.

Saturday, we somehow managed to get ourselves together and out to the opening of the Scout Hall. It was a fabulous day of celebrating with community and it was fabulous to see such inspirational young people and their leaders learning skills that can help them be trail blazers for their peers.

Then, we arrived home to hear news of Paris.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

I am in mourning. The world is in mourning. Can’t imagine what it would be like in Paris , although we experienced terrorism on a small scale in Sydney just over a year ago. Yes, we know that horror and I knew one of the people taken hostage and people who work around Martin Place and had to go back to work and face that horror day after day without knowing if that was the beginning or the end. The courage of the ordinary becomes extraordinary at such times.

Here’s a previous post I wrote in response to Paris: Solidarite: Je Suis Paris https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/solidarite-je-suis-paris/

So, while coffee today might not be very upbeat but coming together at such times, is what coffee and especially that proverbially cup of tea is all about…a welcome cup of healing.

So, this week, I am offering a cup of love, understanding, hugs and even a box of tissues.

I hope and pray that you and yours are okay!

Love and heartfelt blessings,

xx Rowena

This blog is part of the Weekend Coffee Share. Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=582184  I recommend reading Solveig Werner’s post. She lives in Paris: http://solveigwerner.com/2015/11/14/my-heart-is-aching/

We send you our love!

We send you our love!

A Letter to the Sun.

Dear Sun,

Where the @#$$% are you?

Just in case you haven’t checked your calendar lately, it’s now the end of September.You’re supposed to be here by now and no more of these fleeting drop-in, guest appearances either! It’s well and truly Spring. Summer is just around the corner…not a few blocks away, despite what you might think.You’re supposed to be here by now!

Indeed, it’s now almost October and for some strange reason, you’ve gone Missing In Action.

It is currently 14.8°C and I know I can’t blame you for the wind but it’s a roaring 14 knots and even the dogs are complaining that their fur is being blown all the way to New Zealand.

After preliminary inquiries, I’ve established that you were last seen on the Australian East Coast on Monday 21st September at 5.50PM, although there have been a few unconfirmed sightings since then.

Meanwhile, I’ve received confirmed reports that you’ve escaped back to the Northern Hemisphere and I’m starting to wonder if you’ve been snatched, although I’m yet to receive any ransom demands.

I repeat where the @#$$% are you?

If you don’t report back in by 07.00 hours, you will be considered AWOL and can expect an instant court martial upon your return.

Yours sincerely,

Australia.

Victim or Victor: The Lessons of Gallipoli 100 Years On.

One hundred years on, were the ANZACS of Gallipoli victims or victors? Moreover, what does the spirit of ANZAC mean today as we ride through our own battles… victims or victors?

While this sounds like something you’d come across in a high school history exam, I’ve been pondering these complex questions today as we commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the ANZACs landing at Gallipoli.

By the way, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On the 25th April, 1915 the ANZACSs landed at Gallipoli, launching a doomed and brutal campaign. On the 25th April of ANZAC Day each year, Australians commemorate the sacrifices made by Australians in all theatres of war. Traditionally, we wear a sprig of Rosemary for remembrance and either attend a march or watch on TV and we also bake  the ANZAC Biscuits. These were sent in care packages to the soldiers on the front .

Scouts marching to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

Scouts marching to the ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

Being the 100th anniversary, as you could imagine there have been a plethora of commemorations and people turned out in absolute droves to ANZAC Day marches all around Australia and even travelled to Gallipoli. This morning, our kids were marching to the Dawn Service at the local cenotaph with their Scout group. Geoff was taxi and I was photographer. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite a night owl and night owls have something of an anaphylactic reaction to seeing the sun rise so it wasn’t easy for me to get moving. At the same time, despite my health issues and lack of sleep, I didn’t think I could bail out. Shame! Shame! Shame! Our boys sacrificed their lives and quality of life for us to know freedom and yet I couldn’t get out of bed? Yes, I was up and out the door with the family long before the birds and I was really looking forward to being a part of it all. The kids were also looking forward to meeting the old diggers. They love seeing their medals and hearing their stories. I just need to keep reminding them that they’re medals and not “badges”.

Dawn breaking after the commemorative service.

Dawn breaking after the commemorative service.

So, when the alarm went off at 4 am this morning and I staggered out of bed after only 4 hours sleep, I really had to slap myself. Remind myself what it was like for the ANZACS who landed under the cloak of darkness at ANZAC Cove on the 25th April, 1916. They not only had to get up and out the door long before sunrise but dress and psyche themselves up for battle. Prepare themselves for the possibility and in the case of the Gallipoli, the near certainty, of death. As if going into battle wasn’t hard enough, after an initial tow into shore, the ANZAC actually had to row into the beach. This was pretty tough going. The sort of thing, as my Dad would say, puts serious hair on your chest. But wait, there’s more. There they are rowing through the icy waters in absolute darkness not out in the backyard where everything is familiar but in a foreign country with a foreign tongue and showers of bullets pouring down on the beach. Although the first arrivals might have had that element of surprise, subsequent arrivals did not and the casualties were high.

Australian Troops in front of the pyramids in Egypt.

Australian Troops in front of the pyramids in Egypt.This photo was part of the display in the school library.

As I reflect on it all now, even those with a heightened sense of adventure, would have known that sense of terror and yet they went forward. Wave after wave after wave and with each succeeding wave, the horror of witnessing those who have just died in front of their very own eyes, smacking them straight in the face. Yet, they went on. Men of such courage and valour…lambs going to the slaughter…yet, they fought on. 8,709 Australians lost their lives at Gallipoli.

Volumes have been written about the failed Gallipoli campaign and how Australian nationhood and a sense of Australian mate ship and national character were forged in the battlefields of Gallipoli.

In so many ways, it’s hard to understand why Gallipoli is almost deified in Australian history, culture and political speeches (and rants!). I swear any other country would be celebrating its victories, not it’s defeats. Indeed, in comparision to the Gallipoli Campaign, Australia’s incredible contribution towards victory on the Western Front, is rather underplayed and seems to be something of a PS on every ANZAC Day.

However, in a country characterized by drought, flood, deadly poisonous reptiles and the likes of the Great White Shark, much of our identity has been forged by hardship, loss and indeed loss of life. Being Australian is almost synonymous with living with and overcoming adversity.

A few years ago, we found out that my husband’s Great Uncle, Major James Griffin, had fought at Gallipoli with the 3rd Australian Lighthorse. Born in Moltema in Rural NW Tasmania, Uncle Jim arrived at Gallipoli on the 12th May, 1915…two and a half weeks after the first landing. Uncle Jim survived the war but died well before my husband was even born. This means that we don’t have any personal stories, insights or letters relating to his time in Gallipoli. However, Geoff has inherited a handful of photos of men in military uniform including Uncle Jim and his brother, Uncle Dan, who Geoff did meet. Geoff didn’t grow up really being consciously aware of their war time service and we only found out the details of his war service a few years ago after his service records went online. I should point out that this could well have been more than the code of silence. Geoff’s grandmother, their sister, passed away when Geoff’s father was only around eight and there was also physical distance involved as well.

8,709 Australians died at Gallipoli.

While we have been touched to find a close family connection with Gallipoli and I’m intermittently trying to retrace James and Daniel Griffin’s footsteps, today my research deviated yet again…another twist in the road and I was thinking about and exploring something else…a story about two brothers. Indeed, a story of a younger brother following in his older, much taller brother’s footsteps. On the 19th September, 1915 Daniel Griffin enlisted with the Third Lighthorse at Claremont, Tasmania. That’s around 5 months after his brother disembarked at Gallipoli and by the time he steamed out of Melbourne on the 28 October 1915 onboard the SS Hawkes Bay, the first casualties from Gallipoli had started trickling back to Australia.

While letters home could well have concealed the true nature of war, the graphic image of the war wounded arriving back testified to the horrors of war and yet still men went…women too.

This is what it really means to be brave…to be courageous. To know what you are up against yet still take up the fight. That’s what turns you into a victor, even if you lose the battle because at least you’ve fought the fight. Had a go and done your best.

When newspapers reported the first casualties of the Gallipoli campaign returned to Australia, they mentioned welcomed home ceremonies. These men were heroes, even though the Gallipoli campaign itself was an utter, utter failure. There was no talk about “woe is them” or “pity” just gratitude for the sacrifice they’d made and an excitement that they were back home. Also, the community was incredibly thankful for the sacrifice they’d made. These proud men were anything but victims and they certainly weren’t whingeing and selling their tales of woe to the highest bidder, like you see today. They had their dignity and commanded respect. That said, these were changed men. Ultimately, the Allies won the won the war. Quite aside from any physical injuries, many returned home shell-shocked or what we now refer to as PTSD. These victors were also victims.

I know this is fast forwarding very crudely but after the pre-dawn start, I’m beyond tired and am needing to get this posted. So even though it’s a bit of a leap to the end of the war, I wanted to leave you with an interesting story I found about Geoff’s grandmother, Molly Griffin, sister to Major James and Daniel Griffin. She was the school teacher in Mt Hicks.

MT HICKS BONFIRES.

The signing of the armistice was celebrated at Mt. Hicks on Tuesday night. A large bonfire was lit on the highest point of the mount. Cr. Jones said a few words appropriate to tho occasion, and concluded ‘ by announcing that there was an effigy of the Kaiser hidden somewhere, in the paddock, but the young ladies of Mt. Hicks requested that they should have the first privilege of dealing with it. The ladies then made a search, and soon drew the Kaiser from his place of hiding, marched him to the bonfire, and committed him to the flames amid much rejoicing! An adjournment was then made to an adjoining paddock, where two stacks of old straw stood; these had been given by Mr Horace Cross for the purpose of making other bonfires, and they were soon alight, the flames illuminating the surrounding country. The children were supplied with fireworks by Miss Griffin, and a time of rejoicing was spent by all present.

The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas. : 1899 – 1919)Friday 15 November 1918 p 3 Article

Trying to address this topic for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge was being too ambitious but as the saying goes: “it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”. Through just trying to sort out sufficient details to write this short piece, involved quite a lot of research and a much greater appreciation of what our armed forces went through. When I think of those young men rowing through the dark and freezing waters of a foreign country when most of us say we can’t get going in the morning without our coffee or some other pick-me-up and it is incredibly humbling. I can get quite anxious about my driving or changes such as our son starting high school next year and these can be quite paralyzing and yet our troops couldn’t be paralyzed. They had to keep going. Keep their wits about them and move through the greatest fear most of us face…dying…and come out fighting.

Poppies of remembrance. Lest we forget.

Poppies of remembrance. Lest we forget.

I have been left with a much, much deeper sense of what these incredibly brave and courageous young men went through and I thank them and their families from the very bottom of my heart.

Lest we forget!

xx Rowena

PS This post is very much a work in progress. If you have found any historical inaccuracies, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I’ve pretty much had to write this on the run.