Yesterday was ANZAC Day here in Australia and New Zealand. It is the day we commemorate the valiant, yet tragic events of the Australian and New Zealand Troops landing at Gallipoli on 25 April, 1915.
As a Girl Guide, I had attended many Anzac Day services but none was as moving as the Dawn Service we attended when we were living in the Solomon Islands.
You couldn’t help but be reminded of war in Guadalcanal. This was the scene of many bloody battles, where 38,000 personnel lost their lives, during World War II. Names like Bloody Ridge, Iron Bottom Sound and Red Beach provide graphic images of what actually went on here during WWII.
We would dive weekly on a Japanese supply ship, now teaming with fish. The ship had been run aground in World War II, in a last ditch attempt to get supplies to soldiers fighting it out in the the thick and malaria-infested hills of the island.
There was a wrecked army jeep at the bottom of our garden and at the markets you could buy US Army dog tags that had been found by enterprising locals. I thought they were a bit spooky so instead, opted for a couple of Coke bottles date stamped 1942. I also bought an army water bottle and found a shell casing in the garden.
Growing up, “Uncle Alex” was an absent member of our family. He was infact my grandmother’s brother who was killed in World War I and from memory he wasn’t 20. The family was about to migrate from Scotland to Australia but Alex never returned home and so broken hearted, the family migrated without him. He was posted as missing on 2 November 1916 and was a member of the Glasgow Highlanders. I have his cigarette case, sketch book and medallion that was sent to the family after his death. His cigarette case still contains the Directions For Use & Care Of Tube Helmets.
So every ANZAC Day I spare a thought for not only those diggers who lost their lives at Gallipoli, but all soldiers everywhere who are providing us with democratic freedom.
Lest we forget.