ANZAC: soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Today is Anzac Day and it is probably a very subdued one given the state of the world at this point in time. It is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served“.
The ANZAC Forces left their mark in Gallipoli, with 8,709 from Australia and 2,721 from New Zealand sacrificing their lives in what was a disaster from the start. However, this disaster did not ruin the fighting prowess of the ANZAC’s in future conflicts and they left their mark wherever they fought. The courage of those soldiers from the Southern Hemisphere is the stuff of legend, and in Australia and New Zealand they are commemorated with pride.
At the Kemal Atatürk Memorial in Canberra, the following words are attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and they pay tribute to the Anzacs and reflects his understanding of the cost of war:
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
I do not have any ANZAC ancestry, but by a quirk of fate I adopted one. Many years ago while visiting Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol I photographed the newly relaid ledger stones that were originally placed on the graves of the men buried in “Soldiers Corner”.
Unfortunately over the years some of the stones were damaged and all were removed in the 1920’s. Renewed interest in the First World War saw the stones replaced on the graves but unfortunately many were missing and irreparably damaged. The CWGC then restored the plot in 2018 and it was unveiled later in the year. One of the newly replaced ledger stones was for Private William Walker A.I.F and it was decided that the unveiling of his new grave marker would be used as an occasion to re-open the newly restored Soldier’s Corner. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the new plot and meet with some of his family that I had corresponded with through the Lives of the First World War project. Pte Walker is now one of “mine” too and I have added a poppy to commemorate him at the Australian War Memorial Virtual Wall of Remembrance.
As we face a world wide pandemic it is worth remembering that many of the men and women that were in the forces would loose their lives in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, and over 100 years later we are facing a similar pandemic, although so far it has not as severe as the Spanish Flu was.
And while ANZAC Day is really about Australia and New Zealand, it is commemorated around the world in recognition of the terrible price that we pay for war, and that as veterans we are all connected irrespective of whether we are ANZAC, Canadian, British, Indian, Muslim, American or Ugandan.
Another year has almost passed and we are already at Remembrance Day. It has been a troubled year though, not only for myself but for the UK in general. However, come Remembrance Day then the whole town comes out to observe the silence and to Remember The Fallen of both wars. Actually we commemorate too those who lost their lives in the service of their country in other wars and political upheaval, and of course the millions of innocents who were caught in the middle.
The weather on this day was forecast as being cloudy but by the time the service was underway it had turned into a pleasant day overall.
Just for a change I decided I would showcase some of the businesses and shops that decorate their windows, and while this is not all of them it is those that I have seen and managed to get pics of. Reflections are always a problem though and of course parked cars and passing pedestrians.
I do not necessarily endorse any of the shops above, but would like to thank them for making the effort. Oh, we do seem to have a lot of undertakers in our small town, which is really odd when you think about it.
The War Memorial I have dealt with on several occasions so won’t go into it in any detail, however it does sit on a crucial junction and when it is in use you can be rest assured the town comes to a stop.
The service this year was more or less the same format as previously, but was much shorter although it was well attended as usual.
And the Tewkesbury Town Band led the parade as usual. They are very professional and popular too, and if music is required then they can help!
The marching column is a long one though, and gets more ragtag as it gets to the end as it includes the many children’s groups that are included in the parade (Boys Brigade, Girls Brigade, Air Training Corps, Army Cadet Force, Scouts (Beavers, Cubs & Scouts), Girl Guides (Rainbows, Brownies & Guides), Sea Cadets, Tewkesbury Tigers & Tewkesbury Colts). Many of the children are shivering with cold though so you can bet they will be glad when its time to head off home.
And then it was time for the Last Post and the 2 minute silence…
and the wreath laying.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning We will remember them.”
And then they all marched off. I think that this portion of the parade was done by 11H20 and all that was left was the march past at the town hall.
Last year the biggest highlight for me was the small girl who sat on her father’s shoulders and saluted as everybody marched past. I was hoping to spot her again this year and I did too. Only she had grown now and while she sat on her father’s shoulders this year I doubt whether she would be able to next year. But, she took the salute again and I hope she will continue to for many years to come. Those shivering children are the future of Remembrance and in 20 years time hopefully they will be standing in our place watching the parade pass by while their children straggle along at the end.
The red of the Flanders Poppy represents the blood of all those who gave their lives,
the black represents the mourning of those who didn’t have their loved ones return home,
and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.