Saturday, 25 April 2009

Anzac Day

Today is ANZAC day here in Australia, April 25 marks the anniversary of the 1st major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli during WWI.........thousands lost their lives!

I don't know if any of my ancestors were at Gallipoli, but I will tell you the story of 2 brothers, Ben and Vincent, they were younger brothers of my great grandmother. Ben, the older of the 2 went off to war first and was soon followed by Vincent. I have a letter that was written by Vincent to my great grandmother in Jan 1917, he had just gone over to France to fight on the frontline..........3 short months later he was killed at the battle of Bullecourt. His body was never recovered, he is in a mass grave somewhere in France and commemorated on the Villers-Bretoneaux Memorial in France. The battle of Bullecourt, like Gallipoli, was one that could not succeed, the men were pretty much sacrificed for no gain. Vincent was just 19 years old!

Even though it was about the Vietnam War, this song by RedGum "I was only 19" reminds me of Vincent and how young and vulnerable our soldiers were, and are today. The song just gives me chills when I hear it!

Ben's story is probably more tragic, he survived the war, but had terrible shrapnel wounds that caused him continual pain. On Boxing Day 1938 he went out into the fields with a shotgun and killed himself. If the proper resources had been available to him back then, he would have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and treated for it....sadly there was nothing available to him then. This was never spoken about in the family, I only found out when I was researching my family history. I managed to get a copy of his inquest and it even had a copy of his suicide note in it.

I'm sad that war can do such terrible things to families and that I never got to know either of these men. It's possible that if they hadn't gone to war they would've still been alive after I was great grandmother lived until I was 21 yrs old, and she was older than both her brothers.

Lest We Forget.


Beth said...

Thanks for sharing this story about your family history with us Lyn how sad it is,war always is.

fabienne said...

Thanks for this sad story which unfortunately has been and still is shared by an incredible number of persons throughout man history.

It's the first time I heard this song. I'll try to find the words on the web because it's too difficult for me to understand English in songs.

Shirley said...

Thank you for sharing, Lyn, and for bringing such truthful thoughts to us. I totally agree with your thoughts about war and pray for world peace every day. The Iraq war has taken so many lives and left so many maimed in mind and body. Thank you for sharing. World peace and respect for others who are different with different beliefs that hurt no one.