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 Anzac Day

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Caro
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PostSubject: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 03:45

Today (25th April) is Anzac Day here (and in Australia).  I think they celebrate it with well, celebrations and a certain amount of ra-ra, but here it is a somber occasion and services tend to the religious.  No dawn parade where I live, but a service with a hymn, the local minister presiding with too many thanks to God for my liking, but not for most other people's I suppose, some of the kids from the school doing a Bible reading and others singing Lest We Forget by an Australian composer, an address, and then wreathes brought up by various organisations and a roll call of people killed in war from the area (2 Boer War men, 44 WWI men and about 16 WWII).  People seem to come out in droves to honour the Anzac soldiers, but it wasn't always thus.  I remember in the 70s scenes of conflict, young people laying their own wreathes round the cenotaphs in defiance of the RSA (Returned Soldiers' Association) - all this because of the Vietnam War.  And one older man told me his mother hated Anzac Day but that would be because of the remembrance of dead relatives.  My grandmother didn't think much of it either, but that was because as a teetotaller she found it nothing but an excuse for a big booze-up. (She probably didn't use those exact words.) We did all go as a family and watch my father and great-uncle march.

And the rest of the day I am spending typing up the letters of my friend's uncle written from the Middle East in WWII.  They are in pencil and rather hard to read at times.  Usually they are mostly replying to home letters, but in the last one he said he hadn't had letters for a month so wrote a bit more about conditions where he was.  They have a poignancy as he was killed - I do not like writing when he has talked about what he will do when he gets home as he does relatively regularly.  And I will begin my library called An Awfully Big Adventure - New Zealand World War One veterans tell their stories. They are from the WWI Oral History Archives and she has set them in a chronological order.  I am still reading my children's My Story book of the Boer War. It is quite detailed for a kids' book. 

Excerpt (which I hope is readable) from the soldier's letter I am typing:


Sunday afternoon, have just finished dinner, which comprised bully beef & biscuits, margarine & marmalade, & new(?) cheese, tea – which was made from water not altogether unlike the water at home after a severe downpour. The flavour is not the best but you learn to put up with such conditions. This we prefer to use (it comes out of a well) to the other ration which is a salt water & makes you feel very dry after drinking it.  Actually it is sea-water condensed – in my opinion not too much of the latter.  One works up a great thirst for a beer  but unfortunately such a thing is not obtainable around these parts...

We are quite comfortable when we get settled down, but are like rabbits when it comes to move in or out of our shelter, it’s just a duck in & a duck out. Meals we have I think I explained in my last letter out of doors in a little dug-out we prepared for ourselves to shelter from the very prevalent winds...


This morning went to Mass & Holy Communion. Still have father Henby among us. Mass is held in a truck while we hear & attend in the open air. It was not too warm this morning kneeling down during Mass. The ground was damp after the rain & as I said previously a cold wind blowing, however we hope to be rewarded for our minor discomforts. We were issued with a Zealandia before Mass,  one between two of us. I have not had a look at it yet. The sergeant who is also an R.C. collected ours, so I shall be getting it very soon. Reading matter is very limited. If one only knew where & how he was to be situated you could prepare for these emergencies but secrecy is the motto in the army & you have to use your own discretion regarding personal benefits.

By exchanging the odd book among us we manage to rake up a bit of reading occasionally. Some not too recent “Free Lances”, Strand magazines we have managed to come by & these are certainly perused from cover to cover, even to the advertisements we severely criticise.

My complexion has sadly been interfered with by the occasional sunshine we have had. My poor old beak has been so sorely burnt I had a bleeding nose this morning. All this leads up to an add [sic] I saw in a Free Lance where Tokalon skin foods, rose & white, used by night & by day respectively on the face gives you that school girl complexion. I read it but seeing we have none of the feminine sex to regard us in the light of a charming beau one just forgets his appearance. A shave & a wash sometime during the day & you consider you have executed your toilet.

Now enough about the gipsy life of ours. How are things at home?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 06:07

Posted it before but it's fitting here ...

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http://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 09:30

You may have seen this site already, Caro. Online publications regarding New Zealand's experiences of WW1;

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-corpus-WH1.html
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 09:41

For some reason our radio has been interviewing singer-songwriters of war songs this week.  Well, the reason is it is Anzac Day but why specifically these, I don't know. They talked to Eric Bogle yesterday and I have just listened to it now.  He might be a bit bemused by the success of And the Band Played... He said every Anzac Day he gets rung up to talk - "I only wrote a bloody song."  The other two songs they concentrated on were one about the horses in war  - NZ sent over 10,000 and 4 returned (people are now talking about a memorial to them - Bess, Blackie, Nigger and one other whose name I have forgotten) - called As If He Knows (really beautiful song).



and one about a soldier in Iraq, Bringing Buddy Back.



They both have an Irish feel to them, though Bogle apparently is a Scottish-born Australian.

Then this evening they had an interview from earlier with a deceased man, Les Cleveland.  He was a man of many parts, but one was as a NZ folk music historian: he was very antiwar, thought NZ should have stayed out of both world wars, and stayed neutral.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 11:56

Trike,

I have been directed to that general NZETC site before but have never really had a thorough look at it. Mostly end up at a NZHistory one and often paperspast though that is mostly looking for specific people.  Often find lists of missing soldiers on it, or ones who haven't turned up when they have been conscripted and are due to report.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 13:59

This is a video of photographs taken during the landings;

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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 17:24

Bogle has also admitted the "And The Band Played" is wildly inaccurate and unhistorical. These days it (not uniquely) annoys the hell out of me, rather than moving me.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Fri 25 Apr 2014, 22:49

I couldn't care less about accuracy in songs.  That's why I can sing hymns quite happily and love our national anthem which my bil, a very strong atheist, won't bother with sing it asks God to keep us safe and free from war.  It's a protest song, not a historical treatise.  And it sounds good.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Sat 26 Apr 2014, 11:04

I've heard the Eric Bogle song in folk-song clubs over the years.  I think it does have a universal truth, despite historical inaccuracies, in that even in current times the Powers that Be are quick enough to sign up young lads (and lasses) into the forces but there have been stories in the media of servicemen who were badly injured in action (for instance in action in Afghanistan) and need compensation having to fight for every penny.  In the past some songs pertaining to war were sung in a rather jolly fashion - what the heck was jolly about "...for you haven't an arm, you haven't a leg and you'll have to be sat with a bowl to beg...why Johnny I hardly knew you." (The foregoing is an approximate quote)?  I used to volunteer, albeit in a very minor way, at a homeless refuge and there were a lot of ex-servicemen who were homeless, though admittedly none of those were disabled.

Going back to folk songs, I can remember somebody (name escapes me) singing a song something along the lines of "Sing away Thessalonika, sing away me soldier boys"  (can't swear to the "sing away" and I do apologise that I can't recall the name of the song or the exact words.  But that was about Anzac soldiers.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Sat 26 Apr 2014, 11:53

Was this the song LiR?

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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Sat 26 Apr 2014, 12:55

It's certainly a version of the same song, MM.  It must be one of those folk-songs which has "travelled" and has versions in many English-speaking countries, in Ireland and in the Antipodes (and before anybody jumps on me I do realise there are speakers of Irish Gaelic in Ireland as well as of English).  So it was "Salonika" rather than "Thessalonika". Thanks for posting this, MM.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Anzac Day   Sat 26 Apr 2014, 16:38

Your memory was fairly spot on though LiR, Thessalonika and Salonica are the same place. Although Salonica is probably the older foreign name that the city was known by.
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