ANZAC Day - what it means to me

by Prisca 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • Prisca

    Today (April 25) was Anzac Day, a public holiday for most, but it means more than that to many Australians. It is a day when we remember those Australians who fought in wars, in distant lands, for their country. It is not a day to glorify war. Rather, it is a day to remember those who fought and for many, died, far away from home. It is a day for former soldiers and family members to remember and mourn. The Australian spirit of "mateship" is associated with what is called the "Anzac spirit" - being there for your friend ("mate") through thick and thin. In wars, that could even mean giving your life.

    The tradition of the first Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), built on the sacrifice of those who fought and died at Gallipoli, lives on. The last of those who survived that first landing on April 25, 1915, and returned safe home was Ted Matthews, who died in 1997. The last survivor of the whole Gallipoli campaign, Alec Campbell, died last year. The tradition does not depend, however, on a living link. The flame has long been carried by others, first by those who survived the 1914-18 war. Then came those who returned from the 1939-45 war and, still later, those who fought in Korea, Vietnam and more recently, Iraq. Now, with many former servicemen now in their graves, younger relatives are proudly marching in their place, bearing the medals that their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers won.

    Both of my grandfathers fought in the first World War. One of them survived the battle of the Somme. He came home, less one eye that had been shot out. Many of his comrades were not so fortunate. Both my grandfathers kept journals whilst overseas in combat, yet neither wanted to talk about it when they returned. They may have been heroes, but we'll never know. Apparently what they went through was too horrible to talk about. We can only imagine the terrors these men, one of them just newly married, went through.

    Of course, as a JW, I wasn't allowed to commemorate Anzac Day. I had to go to the library whilst the rest of the school was in assembly. I'd be able to hear the bugle from inside the library, as it played the haunting "Last Post". I would silently remember those who fought, yet feel guilty for having such "nationalist" thoughts.

    Today, as I do every Anzac Day these days, I remember my two grandfathers, who as young men, sacrificed their innocence and youth. I never met them, yet they will always live in my heart. I remember also all of the men who have fought in wars since - those who died, and those who returned changed men.

    Lest we forget.


    With deepest respects, I too take my hat off to our Australian and New Zealand veterans both living and dead.

    Even as a Canadian, I can tell you, Canadian vets speak highly of the Aussie/Kiwis veterans.

    My hat goes off to our friends down under on ANZAC Day.

  • Englishman

    My grandfather fought in WW1, and he too spoke highly of the Aussie / Kiwi forces.


  • Big Tex
    Big Tex

    Beautiful thought Prisca. I'm honored to share my birthday with ANZAC Day.

  • TruckerGB

    Both my grandfathers fought in WW1,one being in the Royal Flying Corps,and the other in the Royal Horse Artillery,who was gassed on the Somme and survived untill 1960,two years before I was born,so I never new him,I was fortunate with my other grandfather(R.F.C),as he lived to the ripe old age of 90,and died in 1975,so I heard the'airoplane story',and what a story it was.

    My father fought in WW2,in the R.A.F as a bombardier(bomb aimer), alongside Kiwis and Aussies,who he has always spoken very highly of,and I believe he is still in touch with one or two after all these years.

    As you say Prisca,Lest we forget.

    Take care,


  • Eric


    Thanks for your post.

    The last of those who survived that first landing on April 25, 1915, and returned safe home was Ted Matthews, who died in 1997. The last survivor of the whole Gallipoli campaign, Alec Campbell, died last year.

    The experiences of the Australians in WW1 so closely parallels that of Canadians.

    Your Gallipoli Campaign = Our Battle of Vimy Ridge.

    Charles Reaper, the last surviving Canadian Infantryman from Vimy Ridge died just last month at age 103. He was tall for his age and was able to convince the conscription officers that he was old enough.

    Canada has only a dozen left from WW1.

    We also remember them with the symbol of the Poppy, every November 11th. Every neighborhood meets at its cenotaph and we remember them, celebrate them.

    Lest We Forget.


  • SheilaM

    Prisca: Thank you for sharing the history of the day with us.

  • Max Divergent
    Max Divergent

    Thank you, Prisca

    The fighting was so intense that it became a game to count the longest break between shooting, day or night, over the weeks of the whole campaign. While General Monash reckons it was 15 seconds, the diggers consensus seems to be 11 seconds. It was an intense and protracted battle.

    Perhaps the greatest feat was the eventual withdrawl. They withdrew thousands of troops overnight without the Turks noticing, even though they had been so close they could smell each other's cooking. They just weren't there in the morning, even though the rate of fire didn't drop during the withdrawal.

    The Turks lost 87,000 men.

    Lest we forget.

  • Prisca

    Thanks to everyone for your comments, I appreciate your replies.

    Max, I think we watched the same documentary last night. Funny how we only hear about the Anzac story here, yet never about the Turks'.

  • Max Divergent
    Max Divergent

    Caught! I saw the second half of it on SBS. I didn't see them discuss the withdraw though, apparently they left their bolt action 303's behind and many of them rigged up a device that'd fire the rifle after a delay and that covered the retreat (being bolt action, that could only fire once per rifle, so they had to be quick.. )

    I remember standing aside during school ANZAC services too, and only went to my first dawn service last year (shamefully I didn't go yesterday). That was in Broome and it's held in a park alongside the Bay where the Japanese bombed seaplanes full of people, so that added somthing to the event.

    Take care, Max

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