Friday, 24 April 2009


Tomorrow is ANZAC Day - back in 1915 a great mob of Aussie and Kiwi soldiers along with other British military ordered by the Brits stormed ashore at Gallipoli to fight the dreaded Turks.
The last of the Ottoman Empire being attacked by what was the tail end of the British Empire.

My paternal Grandfather was at Gallipoli, and then as a reward went off to France for the rest of the War. His brother Hugh is 'Forever Young' - killed on September 26 1917 in Polygon Wood. Great Auntie Effie was a nurse in France and Belgium. They all wrote wonderful letters home which one of my cousins has transcribed into a book. The National Archives of Australia has all sorts of digital copies of war records. I found Grandfather's War record - it is all scanned and available for me to cry over. I looked at Hugh Forever Young and the sad letters written by his Mother wanting to know where he was buried, and where his personal effects were.
I can't find Great Auntie Effie's Service Record. (YET!).
Hey - look at Grandfather's signature. I do my Ds the same way at the end of my name!

My maternal Grandfather went to France and Belgium in the First World War as well. He snuck along a camera - it was a court martial if you were caught - and Uncle Ernie has a suitcase full of Pop's war photos.
Two brothers from Central Victoria, Bert and Jack Grinton, also took a camera. The Age has a story on them and their photos. There is going to be an exhibition of their photos at the Bendigo Art Gallery starting in June. Here are some of their photos. The RSL Museum curator said the Grinton photos were one of the top WW1 collections in the country. He hasn't seen Pop's suitcase full - that has to beat a biscuit tin of snaps hands down!!!!
I wonder if the Gritnons have photos of my Pop?
Pop knew the Grinton brothers, and after he sold the farm at Benjeroop and he and Nana moved to Melbourne he still used to get his lovely chooks from them. I wonder if they knew each other in France? They must have, otherwise Pop wouldn't have known where to buy his speckledy quiet talking chooks! I loved Pop's chooks. I wonder if the Grinton descendants also have their chook descendants?
That bloke in the slouch hat is my handsome Pop. His service number was 2204, and he was in the 2nd Battalion. Not many blokes ahead of him in the line... Oh, Grandfather was # 787, later changed to 4550 for some reason. He was up near the front too...

Last Sunday we went to Puckapunyal Army Base for a Rats Of Tobruk get together. The Sweetheart's Dad is a Rat. He went to fight in that bloody, awful war when he was 21.
There weren't many of the old blokes there, but all were clanking with chests full of medals and with tales of funny things that happened (never the appalling truths of war...).
Dad was invited to a posh party and his friends said "You can't go as a Sergeant - here's a Major's uniform". Of course he ran into a mate who said "You aren't a Major". The only reply to that was "And you aren't a bloody Colonel, either"!!!!
There was a fig tree at Tobruk with a big cave underneath it which was used for an Ops base and medical post. At the Tobruk Barracks there is another fig tree under which the wreaths were laid. And tears were shed for lost mates, and lost youth and for memories.

Lest we forget, eh.


AnnieO said...

Jaz, Loved your family story and hold onto that suitcase of photos. My maternal grandmother's only brother was killed at Leyte, Phillipines, when he was only about 19 or so. It took four months for his body to be sent back to San Francisco to be buried. He wrote lots of letters which my mom now has and is trying to organize. There was a book about Uncle Buddy's army company in Leyte that was included in the box of his stuff handed down. My dad happened to notice, while looking at the book last year, that the illustrations were done by a local art teacher/watercolor artist that my mom has known for 25+ years and was currently taking a class from. She emailed him and later brought the book for him to sign. It is an astoundingly small world still, sometimes!

Not Waving but Drowning said...

Lest we forget indeed.

Lovely post,


sMC said...

My (pommie)father was too young for the first and too old for the second, and I don't think he ever forgave himself that his brother gave his life, also the husband of his favourite sister.
Lest we forget.
Lovely post.

Lovely post,

Sam said...

Great stuff jasmine. Very well written, and the tone just so. Not too maudlin, but none of that war is great stuff either. Would have made a good article for the weekend papers ay?

Pennie and David said...

I think it's terrific we know what our families did for us, we have the War Records for some of our rellos and last night I ordered the WW1 records for my maternal Great Grandfather who I discovered was a Captain. My Dad fought at El Alamein and spent 25 years in the Army retiring as a Colonel, he's almost 93 and doing well.