Wednesday 24 April 2013

ANZAC Day Memories

Tonight I am sharing the many ANZAC Day memories sent to me by some of those who sew for Aussie Heroes.  When I asked people to send these in to me I really did not stop and think what I might be receiving and all I can say is that I have been blown away.  I guess because my family does not have any particularly poignant ANZAC Day memories I had not really thought about what people would write.  What follows, I believe are some really special memories and I sincerely hope that somewhere in each family these memories are recorded for future generations.  

I have no longer the luxury of being able to ask my parents or grandparents their memories of the war and I know there were some stories on both sides.  My parents were both born in 1930.  My Mum lived in Perth and my Dad lived in the country so they both had different stories to share.

I can remember both of them talking about rationing and making do.  My grandfather, Pop, was the printer at the West Australian Newspaper and so he was in a protected job (I think that was what they were called) so he could not go to war. 

ANZAC Day was a day of remembrance in my family but we didn't go to dawn services.  I don't know why.  We did, however, religiously watch the March on TV from beginning to end.  It wasn't until I turned 19 and joined the RAAF as an Air Traffic Controller that I first left WA and travelled east.  After completing my Officer Training at Point Cook I moved to RAAF Base East Sale to do the Air Traffic Control Course and then I was posted to RAAF Base Richmond.  In that first year away from home I visited Canberra and, of course, had to go to the War Memorial.  By this time I had made friends with loads of young aircrew and as I wandered around the War Memorial, it was their faces I saw in the photos and the displays.  I was struck with the feeling that there but for the Grace of God go I and my friends at the time.  It surprised me at 19 years old just how emotional I felt and how may tears I shed and had to fight back at the thought.  How would it have felt if it were my peers and friends who were faced with WWI and WWII and Vietnam?  I still can't walk through the War Memorial without getting emotional.

One day I want to visit the Afghanistan Display I have heard about but it won't be whilst we are still there - I will wait till we no longer have our wonderful heroes over there before I do that.  I know too many names, too many back stories, too many wives and mothers and wonderful Aussie Heroes. 

ANZAC Day for me is spent watching the march from start to finish.  Because of my arthritis I can't manage a dawn service or getting in to the city to watch the March.  My husband will attend the local one at Castle Hill and I will get up when he does and watch the broadcast on TV whenever it is on.  Later in the morning I will be in my sewing room, probably preparing things to be appliqued on quilts and laundry bags, while I watch the march and I will not get as much done as I plan as I will be listening to the stories and the kleenex will be near.

Here is what some of the other Aussie Hero Friends remember.

ANZAC Day always reminds me about my pop. He served when we were young. I can remember his photo hanging in our hallway, it was a black and white photo of him in his dress uniform.   My pop and that photo had a big influence on me growing up, I enrolled into Air Force Cadets as soon as I was old enough and marched in every ANZAC Day Parade. We lived away from the city so we were up well before 3am every ANZAC Day so we would get to the muster area early. I was proud to be marching alongside the Vets in the parade, wishing my pop was there to march beside me.  He is now no longer with us and I think about him often, more so on ANZAC Day.

Growing up as a kid ANZAC DAY was always  Dad’s day.  We’d watch him get in the car every year to head off to the local march.  Then  Mum and us kids would watch the service on TV.   ooking back it would have been a great thing to see him march, I don’t know if it was because we were a one car family living miles from town,or something decided between Dad and Mum.  He only ever made it to Sydney a couple of years before he died, I did watch the service on TV but I did not see him.
I still to this day I have never been to an ANZAC march,  maybe one da, but I really don’t think I ever will.

Hi.  My name with the AHQ'ers is Kiwi Karen.
As you would guess I grew up in New Zealand.  My grandfather served and survived WW1.  He went on to marry and had 5 children.  My father was the eldest of these 5.  In WW2  Dad went to Egypt, Italy and Japan.  Naturally he survived otherwise I would not be here, I am number 3 of 4 children.

My memories of ANZAC days started after I joined the Brownies.  I would have been 6 years old.  Mum would get up early to help me into my brownie uniform and I would go off with Dad to the Petone Railway station where the epitaph was located for the dawn service.    ( Captain Cook landed on Petone beach when he sailed into Wellington Harbour )
The reason for being dressed in my Brownie uniform was that after we got home we all went to a later service.  Here all the Brownies, Girl Guides, Cubs and Scouts participated in the march.

The men and women would march up the road with their heads held high and arms swinging in uniform lines.  They all had medals on their chests that shone from the lights of the street lamps.   There was quite a crowd of people there.  I can't ever remember standing with any one that I knew, but I was in the front row, so proud to see my dad marching.  I look back now -  I don't think at 6 years old I even knew why I was there,  I just knew it was very important for my Dad to be there and so that was where I had to be too.

When the service was over we would all go into the waiting room of the station and have hot finger food.  I tasted Dad's coffee once.  Yuk, I guess it had rum in it.  I did this every year with Dad until we left New Zealand.  I was 14 then.  In Australia we went to ANZAC day dawn services wherever we were living at the time.   There were very few ANZAC day dawn services that I missed going to with Dad even though sometimes we were living in different States.

Dad's last ANZAC day dawn service was in France, 2011.  My daughter, Pene, and I took Dad on a 6 day World War One battlefields tour.  Dad wanted to see where his father had fought.  Dad had his 88th birthday on the last day of the tour in Belgium.

Sadly he had a stroke a week after we arrived back in Australia and died soon after.  I very proudly wear Dad's medals to the dawn services now.
Kiwi Karen

Before I met my DH (dear husband for quilters) ANZAC Day used to mainly be a day of shame for me. Why? Because my German-born grandfather, fought for the Germans in World War 1. As a child and later as an adult I never felt that I should attend an ANZAC Day service because my dear beloved grandfather, fought for the enemy. Then on May 19, 1990 I met Barry, my dear beloved husband, a Vietnam Veteran and my whole world changed. One of the first things Barry ever said to me was “I’m a Vietnam Veteran” and I in my naivety thought “So?” not because of any disrespect but out of ignorance as to exactly what that meant in terms of how it affected my DH and how this would change my life. Just to put things in perspective I am 13 years younger than my husband and I was just 6 when he went to Vietnam at the age of 19.

From memory the first ANZAC Day march that I attended was in Mt Isa in 1991 and I have attended ANZAC Day services ever since. Since my husband became Sub Branch President seven years ago (and to this day) of Caloundra RSL Sub Branch (Queensland), the day has meant attending services with him and helping with the Women’s Auxiliary (we help out at the breakfast at the RSL after the Dawn Service and then at the 11am service) and running around madly handing out thousands of Australian flags to the public at the morning service for the Sub Branch, along with a few friends, also wives of ex-servicemen, who also hand out the flags.

Now I stand tall next to my husband and remember his service and that of his mates, both living and passed on, who gave their lives for our wonderful country. I remember too my dear beloved grandfather, a highly decorated German soldier, who passed on and who my DH had the pleasure to meet, thankfully and maybe next year I will march in his honour, as apparently I am now allowed to. Grandfather did become a naturalised Aussie when he emigrated to Australia in the early 20s after becoming disillusioned with the direction that Germany was heading in. I also remember my three great uncles on my paternal grandmother’s side (three Schache brothers who were persecuted for having a German surname but being Australian borndespite serving in the Australian Defence Service. Two served in the Australian Navy,  but who served on the HMAS Sydney, and HMAS Hobart and one great uncle Schache who served in the Australian Army on the Kokoda Track, all of whom I did not find out about until recent years.

Part of ANZAC Day and the weeks leading up to it, is being mindful of the rising anxiety that my dear husband suffers, due to his PTSD  (from Vietnam). Vietnam Veterans’ Day and Remembrance Day trigger similar responses. During these weeks too I help out selling ANZAC Day badges as part of the RSL Women’s Auxiliary, for our Sub Branch, and I have often very interesting conversations with ex-Diggers and also family members of those who have served.  We live in the most wonderful country on earth and so I thank those who are currently serving our country and those who have served.

Bern , proud wife of a Vietnam Veteran

My fondest memory of ANZAC Day was when I was nine years old and a member of the Junior Red Cross at Artarmon Public School.  We, as a group, went to the city and marched with the returned soldiers.  My mother had made my sister and I a white nurse uniform (as required) and we had lovely red capes made from red flannel and lined with red taffeta and also veils with the red cross on the front. Off we went and marched the whole of the march in the rain.  We loved being able to take large bunches of rosemary from our bush.  This day was so memorable because the colour of the red taffeta lining our capes ran in the rain and we returned to my grandmother with very bright pink uniforms…. and we were then told we had a new baby brother.

I did have two uncles who were returned servicemen and an aunt who was a V.A.D.  (LINK) My great uncle was a Gallipoli returned serviceman who was in the contingent that went to ANZAC Cove for the naming of the site which, I have been led to believe, was his suggestion to Mr. Hawke

Like many of my generation, ANZAC Day was just another day off school. I grew up watching war movies where the heroes were always American or, sometimes English. Australians were generally comic relief, bit parts.  In the late 70s, early 80s movies like The Odd Angry Shot and Gallipoli were being made and The Sullivans was compulsory TV viewing. There was a whole part of Australian history that was being opened up to me. I suddenly realised that the old guys who marched on the 25th April had a proud, unspoken past. They had risked everything because "somebody had to do it". Their families had endured long periods of separation and worry.  ANZAC Day wasn't about glorifying war but remembering and honouring the sacrifices made by individuals.   A revelation to an impressionable teenager.  I am still in awe of those willing to continue this tradition of service for your country.
For me ANZAC Day is a reminder to say a quiet thank you to all the men and women who have served and those who continue to serve.

I belong to the Aussie Heroes Quilting Group, but you are all the real Aussie Heroes.   I admire you for your duty to our beautiful Country of Australia. 
I am a mother, a grandmother, a wife.   I can’t imagine what it would be like for me to have a son/daughter, grandchild or husband in a war zone – so I know you all have family members who must worry about you, but they must also be very proud.
Please stay safe

" My early Memories of ANZAC Day"
I arrived in Australia in 1972 and am  a naturalised Aussie but I was actually born in a small dairy farming community in a rural district in the North Island of New Zealand in 1950, so, my early memories of ANZAC day in the 50's are from a New Zealander's perspective, but, I am sure that they probably would not be too  dissimilar to what happened on ANZAC day here in Australia in the 50's.    ANZAC day of course was always a public holiday, - not that it made any difference to the farmers as the cows still had to be milked - and the lead up to it was always the same.    Everyone wore a red poppy at the ANZAC day service and for a week or so before hand, when time permitted  I would go out with my father to sell poppies to all the neighbouring farming families.    It was a way of raising funds for the RSA (Returned Services Association which was the NZ equivalent of the RSL).  My father was in the RAF during WWII and was in 117 Squadron which was a transport and communications unit during that war.  I am not sure where he was or what he did for most of the war as he never talked very much about it at all in front of us children, but I do know that apart from England he spent some time in Egypt and Canada.   I still have his flying log somewhere.
For at least a week before ANZAC day my father would spend hours polishing up his medals ready for the several parades he would be in.   I am lucky enough to now have his medals.
A few days before ANZAC day our primary school always held a remembrance service at school and sometimes an ex serviceman would come along to give us a little talk.  I can remember my father coming one year  (probably in the late 50's) which made me feel very proud.   I can't remember much of what he talked about but I do remember him showing us all a war time newspaper which I didn't know he had and being very fascinated by it.
ANZAC day was a very special day as there was a wreath laying memorial service held in our local district at our small War Memorial which  as far as I can remember was not opened to the public very often.   I used to love going to that service where afterwards we were allowed to go inside and I always made a beeline to look at the photos of the young soldiers who had fallen during the various wars which were up on the wall.   My father and 3 of his 5 brothers enlisted in the services during WWII, only my father and one uncle who was in the army returned.   My uncle who  returned was awarded the Military Medal for bravery which was very special for the family.  One of my uncles died in Crete and his picture was the one I loved to look at every year.    It was always very sad to look at the photos of all the local boys who had headed off overseas and did not return.    During the ANZAC service the school children were all lined up into two rows facing each other and part of the service consisted of us reciting the wonderful poem "For The Fallen" which we always referred to as "Binyon's Lines" as a poet called Binyon wrote it.   I always felt very very moved when reciting it as it made me think of my Uncle Bill who I of course I never knew,  and even though it must be at least 50 years since I last recited it, I can still remember several verses of it:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
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.

The service always ended with The Last Post being played.   This  has always made me shiver.

After the service ended we children were all taken home while my father, in his suit and  wearing his medals, headed off into town to join his RSA mates to have their march and get together and reminisce with each other and we didn't see him again until very late that night, and usually quite the worse for wear.     My mum and I always milked the cows that night.

  Just thinking about ANZAC day always makes me feel very emotional, don't know why and I spend the whole day in front of the telly watching all the various parades including the Gallipoli telecast thinking of those who are long gone and those who are currently serving.

A few years ago I travelled to far flung places around the globe. One of the places I went to was Gallipoli (although it was not ANZAC Day).  I toured the peninsula with a bus load of people mainly from Commonwealth countries. When we arrived at ANZAC Cove the feeling was quite surreal, but it wasn't until a little while later when I was sitting quietly on ANZAC Beach, reflecting on the feats of the ANZACs that it really hit me - I looked around me and was stunned to see the entire bus load of people sitting on their own patches of sand along the beach.  No one spoke.  Everyone was contemplative and just staring out to sea.  And we stayed that way until it was time to leave.
Whether we know all the stories and legends of the ANZACs or not, it seems we are all awed by their sacrifice and are fiercely proud of what they did and achieved for us all.

This ANZAC Day stay safe and know all of us back home are also fiercely proud of you and what you are achieving.

Sarah Leheny

My only real memory of ANZAC Day my daughter had just arrived home from Somalia on ANZAC Day when the ABC radio called me to get her to do an interview.  It is an unspoken rule with us that we never volunteer other family members to do something.  I had to refuse but told them to contact the Airforce which they did, the outcome was ,she was met on the tarmac with an order to speak to the ABC, it turned out to be quite a good interview but we were unable to record it due to a faulty machine. Thank God for having a good memory.

ANZAC Day plays a large part in our lives and our community. My husband and I live in a small country town on the banks of the Murray River. My husband is President of our local RSL sub Branch so our involvement starts well before the day and we start early on ANZAC  morning.
Our day starts with our Dawn Service at 0600. Over 200 people from the town, sub branch and surrounding areas are all there well before 0600 to attend and participate in the service. The last few years we have paid tribute to our fallen personnel from Afghanistan by reading all names out during the service. Last year we had a lone piper play Amazing Grace while the names were being readout. This was a very emotional tribute to our fallen young men and there was many a tear in the eyes of our townsfolk. After the service our Country Golf Club put on a Gun Fire breakfast for all who attended the service.
Then  at 0845 it is off by bus to another very small local town that are a chapter of our RSL to help them with their march and ANZAC service.
 1130 finds us back home ready for our march and tribute to our fallen.
Once again our town helps us celebrate ANZAC Day. All our ex service personnel that are able march accompanied by a band, a catafalque party local school children, scouts, guides, pony club with pony mascot and the local fire brigade. All are just so keen to be there and march and help us celebrate.
After the service is over the RSL sub branch  put on a luncheon and drinks for all ex serving personnel and their families.

This year we are paying an extra tribute to our World War 11 veterans as they are all elderly and keep reminding us that they won't be around much longer. We are also presenting an RSL flag to our member who has carried the flag for 25 years and this is his last year.

Our ANZAC Day is always a long tiring  and fulfilling day but it is our way of saying thankyou to all ex and serving personnel

My memories of ANZAC Day
When I was a child in the 1950s, my Mum took my sister and me into the city most years to see Dad in the ANZAC Day march. We would wait at a pre-arranged spot along the route, sitting in the gutter when we got tired of standing, and Dad would look for us and always give us a smile and a wave. We would wave back proudly with our little Aussie flags that Mum bought for us from a street vendor. When it was all over, Mum took us home and Dad went off to a reunion somewhere to reminisce with his wartime mates. 
Hours later, often late at night, Mum would get a phone call. She would drag us out of bed, lie us down on the back seat of the car with our pillows and a blanket (no seat belts in those days!) and drive off to wherever in Sydney’s sprawling suburbs Dad had ended up. She then had to get her “under the weather” husband into the car and hope he would fall asleep on the way home, which he usually did. Once home, it was a matter of unloading three sleepy bodies before she could go to bed herself.
As a parent myself, I took my own children to our local Dawn Service and ANZAC march whenever possible. It was just as moving, even though my Dad was no longer alive.
These days I watch the march on television every year, noting sadly how few of the veterans of World War II are still around – fewer every year. And every year I sit glued to the telecast with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my family.
We appreciate the sacrifice you are making every day, especially on your deployment being away from your loved ones and your friends.
We live in the best country in the world and this is all thanks to you and men and women
like you spanning a couple of hundred years.
I don’t have anyone in my immediate family that has served in a war, one of my Grand Mother’s cousins died at Gallipoli.

Best wishes and safe return to Australia.

From Kaylee of Tweed Heads.

As a kid ANZAC Day meant putting on my white dress and veil with the red cross on it and marching from Dino's store down to the Cenotaph in Greta...the only day of the year that the main highway from Newcastle to Singleton was ever closed to traffic.  We had a marching band and were ever so serious...but afterwards we played games and had a good time.  We heard about the fighting and the deaths, but at our age we didn't  then understand the meaning of the word ANZAC.  It was not until the war that coincided with my teenage years that I fully understood the sacrifices that our fantastic Defence Forces were prepared to make...ahh the innocence of youth.  These days I attend the Dawn service at Bagdad, Tasmania with my hubby, Dickie Duckett (WO1 Engineer Retired) as he conducts the Service and later another Service at 11:00 am at Kempton where the Brighton GreenPonds RSL Club is situated. We haven't gotten around to playing 2up just yet but I do remember winning a few coins at the Sergeant’s Mess in Puckapunyal and Holsworthy when hubby was still in the Army….what fun as I normally cannot even win a chook raffle!   I know that all our wonderful Service Personal have family somewhere in Australia but to are my family.  You are my sons and daughters.  You are the people that I love and respect.  Please take care and come home to those who love you.  God bless.  Cheers Judy Duckett.

Our son is in the RAAF, his grandfather served in WW2 and he had 3 great grandfathers who served in WW1.  I am grateful beyond belief for all who have chosen to serve their nation in this manner and given of themselves to safeguard others.   This year on ANZAC Day we will attend a service as we usually do. We try and find a service to attend no matter where we are and then find an RSL club and buy a serving member a drink, in lieu of being able to buy all serving members one.  So as we raise a glass this Thursday my husband and I will be saluting all of you and wishing you a safe and happy future.
Best wishes
Pam and Graeme Matthews

I am a leader at Flagstaff Hill Scouts in South Australia for ANZAC Day our District, comprising of five groups get together on the eve of ANZAC Day at Blackwood War Monument.
We have an opening ceremony at 6pm on 24th April at which our scouts ( aged 11yrs to 14 yrs) & Venturers ( aged 15yrs to 18yrs)  start an all-night vigil guarding the monument until dawn.  Each youth member spends ½ hour on duty, with 4 members taking part in the ½ hour session.  We have so many youth that want to be a part of the vigil that sometimes they do not all get a turn.  The youth do not mind how cold it is or if it is raining, they all enjoy the night & honouring our war heroes.  I am really proud that kids so young wish to be part of the tradition we have started.  I have been a part of scouting for 13 years & I know that it has been going for a least that long if not longer.
Cheryll Terpstra

I will leave you with a couple of pictures of an Operation Slipper ANZAC Day Service from 2012.


1 comment:

  1. So many wonderful stories here - as Jan-Maree said up top, please write them down to pass onto your children and grandchildren.