The One Day of the Year

Today is the day in Australia we celebrate our defence personnel. We have a dawn service to remember those who died. We have parades to recognise those who live.

It is held on this day because on this day in 1915 Australian forces were engaged in a battle for the first time. That the battle was lost does not matter.

I ignore the pomp and ceremony of this day. I do spend time thinking of my relatives who served in our defence forces. My father fought on the Kokoda Trail in WW2. He returned but didn’t talk much about it. He did drink a lot to forget. My grandfather’s brother signed up after Gallipoli. He spent a lot of time in the army getting drunk and was blown to smithereens on the Western Front in 1917. My children’s great uncle George volunteered to join the RAF and flew many missions over Germany in a Lancaster bomber. In July 1942, he and his crew didn’t return.

I also think about my great grandmother, Lydia. Arriving in Australia from Ireland (via England) with her husband and 10 sons in the early years of the last century, she became a widow in 1912 and saw her eldest son, Mick, go off to war in 1915. I truely cannot imagine what her life must have been like – a widow trying to raise 10 sons in the slums of Balmain in the war years. Mick didn’t return.

lydiasletteranon

 

“Dear Sir,

In reference to my son Pte Michael {name deleted} of the 45th Batt. late 13th D company who has been missing from the 6th of June have you found any news concerning him it is now in the sixth month and the strain is beginning to tell on my health I have heard from one of his batt. in France that he is reported killed also my sister who is in England received word from the miliary authorities there that he was killed can you tell me why I have had no news hopefully you will give this your immediate consideration

Believe Me

Yours Respectfully

Lydia {name deleted}”

War is a horrible business and occasionally necessary.  I honour those who serve.  But we must not betray our defence personnel by committing them to immoral or unjust wars ever again.

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