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