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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remember the Diggers

Thinking of all my Australian and New Zealand friends and readers on ANZAC Day!

For my American readers who don't know what ANZAC Day is, it's a day that honors the soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who died specifically at Galipoli in Turkey in World War I — I believe it was close to or more than 10,000 men — but more generally those who've served and died for their countries.

I'd love to hear more about it, so my dear Aussie and Kiwi friends, feel free to tell us how you spent the day (which for you has mostly passed) and what the day means to you.


Marg said...

There are a couple of options - to get up and go to the Dawn Service, or there are marches in all the major cities on the day itself, but I spent the day watching documentaries, and generally feeling very emotionally proud about everything they did for us and about being an Aussie.

If you do go to the parades or find yourself in a pub you might find yourself caught up in a game of two up.

Thanks so much for posting about this.

Hi, Marg —

I saw a couple of Dawn Service videos that left me in tears. Very touching. I've never seen a documentary about Galipoli, just the Mel Gibson movie, but I have read some about it and about that summer and the Aussie and NZ losses. I have to say I found the Turkish ruler's comments after the war to be very touching, about the sons of Australia being held in the bosom of Turkish soil and so "they are our sons, too." I'm not getting that right, I know. But I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.

When I think of those men — and all young men who die in war — I think of the families they left behind to grieve, especially their mothers. Having two sons of that age, I just can't fathom how hard it must be to lose a boy like that.

I also think of how brave those young men had to be to charge into the battle despite knowing they might well be killed and despite seeing their comrades falling around them.

Thanks for sharing your experience of the day, Marg. I really appreciate it!

You know, Marg, I've always wondered how Australians and New Zealanders feel about the British role in what unfolded at Galipoli.

Anonymous said...

Chiming in belatedly - I watched the march in Orange, NSW because my children were in it - my son with the Scouts and my daughters as part of a contingent from their school. Outside the big cities, they're happy for school groups to be part of the parade - the numbers of ex-service people are getting thin now, and in recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in ANZAC Day.
I don't have any direct ancestors with ANZAC connections, but one of my great-uncles fought at Gallipoli and later the Western Front in WW1, and another was a POW of the Japanese during WW2 - both fortunately survived to live long lives.
As for Australian attitudes to the British over Gallipoli - more British fought and died at Gallipoli than did ANZACs, though not as a proportion of population. We might resent the incompetence and wrong-headedness of the generals and politicians (Winston Churchill was one of then - he's not such a hero in Australia as in the UK), but it's all such a long time ago now.
Gallipoli has become part of our national mythology - a bit like the Alamo, or maybe Pearl Harbor. Even though it was a military failure, we remember it as part of our nation-building. There is a lot of jingoism associated with ANZAC Day, but it is still incredibly moving and sad to think of all those young men (and women) who never came home. The Mel Gibson movie captures that really well.

Lucy said...

Thanks for thinking about us on ANZAC day Pamela :). It's become traditional for people to either go to the parades or sit at home and watch it all on TV. Personally, I sleep in and catch it all on tele but, whatever you do, it's always really emotional.

Chez said...

Thanks for thinking about our ANZACs. There has been a real resurgence of interest in the Anzac story with the younger generations, it is studied quite thoroughly in both primary and secondary schools and the decendants are now marching in the parades wearing the medals and honouring their family members memory in this way. I love that. I really do. There are some that believe the kids shouldn't march and that it should only be for the soldiers, but I reckon they would have loved the kids marching for them. I know my grandfather would have been proud to burst at the thought of someone wearing his medals and marching for him. He wasn't an Anzac, but served in WW2 at the bombing of Darwin and marched every year he lived after he returned home... with his mates, remembering those that couldn't march with them.

My nephew has recently joined the army and we saw him in his fatigues on Anzac Day for a short time. He was bursting with pride and seriously looking forward to a massive piss up (drinking session) with his mates.

Hi, Lesley — Thanks for putting it in that perspective -- i.e., that the events in Turkey are like your Alamo or Pearl Harbor. I've thought of it as kind of being like D-Day only not going well (though ultimately Australia helped France and Britain to win WWI; the U.S. role in WWI is always overplayed over here). I think it's great that kids get to be a part of it wearing their ancestors medals. That's how you keep history alive for the new generations that come later and have no memories of their own.

I had an uncle who died on the U.S.S. Utah at Pearl Harbor. He was newlywed by one week and had just gotten back from his honeymoon. My grandfather fought in WWI in the Navy, on a patrol ship that scouted the North Atlantic for German u-boats.

Hi, Lucy — Yes, I can see that it IS emotional, Heck, I'm a Yank and I was crying. LOL!

Hi, Chez — I just saw something about the bombing of Darwin recently. WOW to your grandfather being there. Bad stuff, that. Much worse than Pearl Harbor, as I've heard. I'm sure he would be proud to have his medals dusted off and worn in public. How can the past be remembered if one puts a wall between it and those who are living now?

Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. It's good fur us here to learn more about it! I personally very much enjoyed it.


J said...

This is what Ataturk said:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

These gracious words are quoted on the Kemal Ataturk Memorial , ANZAC Parade, Canberra.

When I visited Gallipoli and read these words I had tears running down my face. The Turkish people I met were welcoming and very friendly, though to be honest they were not so positive about the English. As it was put to me "We knew the ANZAC'S were there only at the say so of the English"
Keep in mind though, this was what I experienced as an Australian. Don't think there is much love lost between the two peoples though.

As soon as your blog page opened I gasped!
The photo you have posted is taken at the dawn service at Kings Park here in Perth. We stand at dawn and watch the sun rise over the Darling Range as the bugle plays. When you finally get to return my visit try to get here for April 25 and I will take you.

You will be forever touched. So many people walking to the Cenotaph in silence, standing in silence with tears running down their faces.
In the same park we have an avenue of trees and each one is dedicated to a lost soldier.

Unfortunately there are too many trees.

Australia has much more to be proud of than Tim Tams and I am glad you appreciate that.

Love, J xx

Joanie, my dear friend, Australia also has YOU. :-)

Thanks so much for your post. I got all teary reading it. I cannot wait to visit you and I will try to time it with ANZAC Day. I watched a ceremony on YouTube and couldn't keep from crying.

Yes, Australia has more than Tim Tams, and New Zealand is more than the place where they filmed Lord of the Rings.

XOXO to you, Joanie!

Libby said...

Hi Pamela

I have read all your books and I have been following your blog. You are an inspiration to me. I realise this is a very old entry, but I just came across it and being Australian I was moved to comment. My grandfather fought in WW1 and my father in WW2. As I am now 52 I remember them clearly. (In fact my father is still alive, he's 93). My grandfather was supposed to be at Gallipoli but the troop ship he was to go on sank and he missed it! Instead he served in the Camel Corps (I bet you didn't know that existed!) in Palestine and when that was disbanded he joined the Australian Flying Corps as a pilot. He enlisted again as a pilot trainer in WW2. We all learned about Gallipoli at school, with the emphasis on three things:
1) Our treatment at the hands of the British (expendable colonials) was a catalyst to change in the Australian psyche. No longer were we satisfied to be considered second-class British subjects. We may not be a republic but we are very much Australian and no longer consider ourselves as tied to Britain in any way. In some ways the ANZAC campaign (along with the Eureka Stockade) was the birth of Australia as a nation.
2) Australian soldiers were very different from the British, in that respect was earned by character, not class. Unlike the British of the time (I assume this has changed) Australians did not consider people to be expendable, whether they were officers or diggers.
3) ANZAC was a failed campaign. However, like Dunkirk, it was a successful retreat. The ANZACS primed rifles with string tied to a trigger. The string was also tied to a container being slowly filled by a slow drip - when enough weight was on the trigger, the rifle fired. The random, intermittent firing from all over ANZAC cove, tricked the Turks into thinking there were still Australian soldiers at action stations, when in reality they were leaving quietly, under cover of darkness. When the sun rose, they were gone.
Australia's ties to Britain were strained further during WW2. Australia was under dire and immediate threat from Japan, and Churchill refused to send any Australian troops home to defend Australia. Australians had been fighting in Europe since 1939. Even after the war in Europe ended, Australian troops were not released to defend their home. Not only was Darwin bombed, but also Port Hedland, Townsville, Newcastle and mini-subs got into Sydney Harbour and sunk a ship. They were also sinking shipping close to shore. If it was not for the Americans, Australia would be Japanese.
ANZAC day is really to commemorate everyone who died for their country, in every campaign in every war, it is not just about that one campaign. I live in Canberra and we have huge numbers turning out for the dawn service every year. I saw the movie Gallipoli when I was 18. I went with a girlfriend and when it finished I was crying so much I couldn't drive home! In fact, I think I cried for three days. I have never watched it again. Just as an aside, my daughter was an exchange student at a school near Sacramento, California. Every time the history teacher mentioned that WW2 started in 1941,she felt compelled to correct him and inform him that it actually started in 1939. I don't believe she ever won that argument. I have my grandfather's war diaries. He was also an artist and they are incredibly descriptive - not your usual war diaries at all. He met my grandmother as a consequence of that war and when I finish the book I am writing now (I have just finished the first draft), I plan to write a book to tell his story. This is the first time I have actually posted anything, so I hope that you have a chance to read this.
Elizabeth, Canberra, Australia

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