Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Memories of Anzac Day

The post below is to do with my Grandfather Bill Joyce but on Anzac Day I also felt I needed to say a bit more.

I come from a long line of people who have served. My Dad's Dad was on the Western Front in World War 1 and was wounded in 1917 at the Somme. My Mum's Dad was a Rat of Tobruk. I had great uncles at Changi and on the Burma Railway and I am named after an uncle who was with the 2/22nd Battalion [Lark Force] who was killed on the first day of the Japanese invasion there. I had uncles who were in PNG and one who escaped by boat from Malaya as the Japanese poured down to Singapore [he was one of those subject of the book "Heroes Denied].

As with most people of my generation, I grew up with tales of the Wars - Simpson and his Donkey , The Rats of Tobruk, the heroes of Gallipoli and others. Evidence of the Wars and my families heritage was all around me. In the homes of my Granparents and Uncles and Aunties were photographs of young men in uniform. On the wall of Bill Joyce's passage at 55 Orvieto St, Merlynston, was a velvet belt covered in insignia and brass badges of various units that he had broughtback with him from World War 1.

For all that the War's were not really discussed. There was no boasting, nor any claims of glory simply an unsaid endurance of things that were horrible and better left unsaid. They had fought for us, their kids and grandkids, and it was over and time to get on with life.

Mum's Mum, Lil Smith had 13 close family members who went to serve in WW2 - husband and son, brothers and sisters, brothers-in-law. And two of the latter survived Changi and the Burma Railway but came home looking like skeletons. She nursed one brother through the latter stages of lung cancer and my memories of that are of a sick old man, bed ridden and scary. It was only later on that I found out that Alfred Lawrence Carroll had won the Military Medal in World War 1.

I now have a son who is a Staff Cadet at Duntroon [in Kokoda Company] and I am extremely proud of the fact that he has chosen soldiering as a career. I know that he will at some stage after graduation next year be likely to be sent to Iraq or the Solomons or who knows where at that time. And whilst it frightens me I am also aware that he will do his duty and know that the spirits of those brave family members who went before will be standing there shoulder to shoulder with him.


tayters said...

You sound like me.
My Grandfather on Mums side was Bill Westhead, one of the people out of the book heroes denied.
My Dad seved as a medic in Vietnam 8th field Ambulance.
Also my brother served in Iraq.
My brother in law is about to go to Afganastan at the end of May.
There was never any talk or bosting about it.
My Grandfather was a heavy drinker, my Dad has PTSS, and my brother is still getting help after about 2 yrs of being back.
I am very proud of all of them, they faught for our freedom and the beautiful country we have today.

Loz said...

Hi Tayters and thanks for the visit. I was born just 12 years after the Second World War ended but for me when growing up it was ancient history. I was a few years too young to be conscripted to Vietnam and I have wondered at times how I would have coped if my number came up.

My son has now graduated and is serving with a unit in Adelaide and he, and all the mates that graduated with him, can't wait to march off and do the duty they have trained for. As his Dad I worry, as as Aussie with the heritage I have I am extremely proud of him.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It's not often that an old post gets comments and I appreciate it.

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