You may be wondering why I’ve misplaced my alphabet but there is method is my “mistake” as today Down Under we commemorate Anzac Day. It has become traditional over the years to write a commemorative blog post for both Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. You can find mine by using the search box.
While you would certainly not class visiting war cemeteries as wow moments, they can have a significant emotional impact. I think Australians have made it a pilgrimage because it was extremely rare for families after the wars to be able to visit their deceased relatives’ graves. Instead, war memorials can be found far and wide throughout our country as bereaved families in the smallest towns ensured the sacrifices were remembered.
For our family there is a different layer, having lived in Papua New Guinea where Australian servicemen fought back the Japanese at what was far too close to our borders. While Kokoda is the best known of the PNG engagements, it was the Battle of Milne Bay that was the first land defeat of the Japanese. When we lived in Port Moresby, we would take our visitors to see Bomana Cemetery which is the large but peaceful burial place from World War II.
After I started family history, we made a point of visiting two cemeteries with family connections. One of my grandfather’s cousins, James Gavin, died in the early hours of the Battle of Fromelles and is buried at Fleurbaix in the Rue Petillon cemetery. Another cousin’s body was never recovered and James Paterson is commemorated on the Villers-Brettonneux memorial. Mr Cassmob’s great uncle, Lt Col WEH Cass lost many of his men at Fromelles in the front line and he was devastated and said “My boys, my boys! They’ve murdered my boys!” He was referring to the commanding officers, not the Germans.
On another trip we booked a day trip to the Western Front and saw several cemeteries. It’s astounding how the devastation that was left after the war has been diminished. The sheer scale of the cemeteries and number of graves is beyond sobering and that’s without considering those who have no identified grave and whose names appear on the Menin Gate.
On the same trip we visited Gallipoli. Not only has it special significance for Australians and New Zealanders, it is also a place of remembrance for other nations, from the Turks who were defending their homeland, to the Irish and the British. It also had personal significance for Mr Cassmob because his great-uncle, Sydney Pentland was killed there and is remembered at the Lone Pine Memorial. We were impressed with the willingness of the Turkish people and government to preserve this location which is so special to their country and to ours.
Sydney’s brother , Donald, was killed at Brookseinde Ridge and is remembered on the Menin Gate.
This is the next instalment of my Special Moments, Magic Memories series for the 2022 A to Z Blog Challenge. The moments here are not magic but they are certainly special in a thought-provoking way.
LEST WE FORGET
6 thoughts on “War – Anzac Day”
Great that u visited so many memorials..even if remembrance it must be such a painful revival. Good that u chose today to write in line with remembrance day! That Mr.Cassmobs uncle’s statement is heart wrenching
Dropping by from a to z “The Pensive”
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Thanks for visiting Afshan. Yes those words are heart breaking indeed. It was a privilege to visit the sites even though they could be heart breaking too – so much loss for each country involved.
Mr Cassmob’s great uncles were certainly military men, one at Gallipoli and one at Fromelles! I imagine there were others too. My great uncle was on the Western Front. Mostly army service corps. Never met him, died before I was born. My great grandfather was at Fromelles but not as much in the fray as Mr Cassmob’s great uncle. He stepped in for a few months as commanding officer of 54 Battalion when Lt Col Cass went off on sick leave after the battle. My other great grandfather was with the British Army Service Corps at Salonica in Greece. And of course you know about the Fischer brothers and their history. You are a prolific writer Pauleen, and its always good to read your blogs. I am also amazed by how many crime novels you read. We just watch them on TV!
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They were certainly in the thick of some of the worst battles. WEH was regular army and had served in the Boer War too. I was amazed to read your great grandfather relieved him – what a coincidence! Were yours all regular army or volunteers? Few of my direct family served because they were in essential services (railway) at home. Grandad only went to WWI when they called for experienced railwaymen.
WEH basically had a breakdown after Fromelles and they sent him home. It astonishes me that they treated him well given the men were expected to just get on with it. Equally amazing is that he went on to Brigadier General.
My crime reading is my R&R time and since most aren’t deep I can churn through one a night. Our TV is rarely turned on. Reading news online etc.
I do enjoy visiting memorial cemeteries.
It’s always sad to see the losses isn’t it, but at least by visiting we’re remembering their sacrifices.
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