Anzac Day 2016 in Wangi Wangi

April 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Reflections, Society, Special Occasions, War and Conflict | 14 Comments
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ANZAC means Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

As we do every year, today we celebrate Anzac Day here in Australia and in New Zealand.

The landing by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April 1915 was Australia’s first major action of the Great War. These soldiers quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

When they landed they faced fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated from the peninsula, with both sides having suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. More than 8,000 Australian soldiers died in the campaign.

Gallipoli had a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who died in the war.

I have written before on Anzac Day – herehere and here.  And Here is more background.

Here in Wangi Wangi, NSW, there was a dawn service. At 10 o’clock we had a parade down Wangi’s main street, consisting of past and current servicemen and women, school children, and members of various public services and voluntary organisations. The R.A.A.F. provided the armed service contingent this year.

The large and growing contingent of vintage army vehicles is a always popular drawcard for everyone. It ended at the memorial in front of the RSL (Returned Services League) Club, where a half hour ceremony was conducted.

We also had a flypast by three BAe Hawk fighter jets from the RAAF base at Williamtown, Newcastle.

I took photos of the parade and the later display of vehicles, but I could only get one partial shot of the people conducting the ceremony as I wasn’t tall enough to see over those in front of me. Here are some of the highlights of the morning.

01 Hardware sign

02 RAAF lead parade

03 salute

04 K9 unit

05 Wangi school

06 Full tracks

07 Jeeps

08 Ambulances

09 Old blitz trucks

10 Half-track truck

11 Crowd heads to the ceremony area

12 Ceremony blocked by crowd

13 Part of vehicle display

14 Looking to lake

15 Looking from jetty

16 Flags

 

Lest we forget

 

I have heard people who are quite opposed in their views about occasions such as ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day and others. Do you think they really commemorate those who served and suffered for a righteous cause? Or are these occasions really glorifications of nationalistic pride?  I would be interested if you could share your views.

 

(c) Linda Visman,  25th April 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANZAC Day 2013

April 25, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Society, War and Conflict | 13 Comments
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ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The term Anzac originated in World War I, when our countries’ combined forces landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, Turkey,  on the 25th April 1915.

The Anzacs land on the Gallipoli beaches, under fire from the Turks who hold the high ground.

The Anzacs land on the Gallipoli beaches, under fire from the Turks who hold the high ground.

This campaign, in which many hundreds of men lost their lives, was the first real test of the armies of these two new nations; their “Baptism of Fire”.

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Nowadays, ANZAC day is celebrated by the people of Australia and New Zealand on the 25th April, the day the first forces landed on the beaches of what is now called Anzac Cove. From the beginning, they faced extremely strong opposition from the Turks, who had the high ground. They dug in and both sides endured many months of warfare under terrible conditions.

Gallipoli trenches

Anzac Day has come to rival Remembrance Day (11th November) as a reminder of the sacrifice that so many made in the service of their country. All wars in which Anzacs served since that initial campaign are remembered, right up to the present Afghanistan campaign that is still going on. Every city and almost every town with a population of more than a few hundred has its parade and its ceremony of remembrance.

Here are some pictures of Anzac Day in my little town, Wangi Wangi, on the shores of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales.

The parade is led by a lone piper and a single drummer.

The parade is led by a lone piper and a single drummer.

Ex-servicemen march along the main street of Wangi behind the piper & drummer

Ex-servicemen march along the main street of Wangi behind the piper & drummer

Children from local primary schools also participated.

Children from local primary schools also participated.

A small selection of the many old army vehicles that participated in the march.

A small selection of the many old army vehicles that participated in the march.

A section of the crowd heads towards the memorial for the remembrance service.

A section of the crowd heads towards the memorial for the remembrance service.

Some of the officials and veterans.

Some of the officials and veterans.

On Anzac Day, and only on that day, a traditional Aussie gambling game called two-up is allowed by law. It is played by tossing two old pennies off a small strip of wood, and bets are called as to how the pennies will land: two heads; two tails; or one of each. Large amounts of money can be wagered on this game, so it’s probably a good thing it is banned for the rest of the year! The crowd also becomes very noisy as the game progresses.

The crowd at the two-up game.

The crowd at the two-up game, held in the garden of the Wangi RSL (Returned Services League) club.

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(c) Linda Visman (text & photos)

ANZAC Day – Lest we forget

April 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Australia, History, War and Conflict | 1 Comment
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Dirk and I walked the 2.5km into Wangi this morning for the Anzac Day march and service. As we walked down the street towards the path around the lake, we saw several other groups of people coming from cars and homes to walk as well. There were groups of people walking all along the lakeside path into town.

In Wangi village, we were amazed at the numbers who turned out, children too. They lined the main street in hundreds– and Wangi is not a big place.

At 10am we heard the thump, thump of the big drum as the parade approached from where they had assembled near the primary school. Then they turned into the main street, led by one police motorcyclist, followed by a small RAAF contingent and the local pipe band.

The war veterans of the district walked proudly behind the band, wearing their service medals. Two cars carried old and disabled ex-servicemen. Young people marched too, representing their fathers, grandfathers or great-grandfathers. Then came the Scouts, and children from three primary schools around the district.

Most exciting for the children was the parade of old army vehicles: jeeps, troop carriers, a couple of small tanks, two half-tracks, regular army trucks, an armoured car, and two motorbikes, all proceeding along the street under their own power. A few more veterans rode in these too.

The vehicles were in various stages of restoration, and many of them were ex-U.S. army. One was a beautifully restored staff car. An old NSW Bush Fire Brigade fire truck and our local active fire truck, the local RSL (Returned Services League) bus and a police patrol car brought up the rear.

The crowd then moved en masse along the street towards the memorial that stands outside the RSL club. There the service to remember the fallen of past wars was held. The main speaker was a retired Colonel of the New Zealand army, who spoke of the ties that unite our two countries, ties that began on the bloody beaches of Gallipoli.

While he spoke, an elderly woman not far from us fainted. Someone brought a chair from the club, but she wasn’t well and a call was made for any doctor or nurse who might be present., and an ambulance was rung for.

It was some time before someone thought to lie her down with a blanket, and even longer (after the service was over and everyone was leaving) before an ambulance arrived. Given the shortage of vehicles and personnel in the ambulance service, it probably wasn’t surprising. There may also have been call-outs to other elderly participants at the many other Anzac services being held around the district.

Most people were unaware of the medical emergency, and she was behind a small brick fence and therefore hidden from those conducting the service, which continued with the laying of wreaths, hymns, the Last Post, a minute’s silence and our national song. I found the service moving and inclusive, and was impressed with the numbers who attended.

I just hope that the young yahoos, who take any opportunity they can to justify getting drunk and aggressive and stupid, don’t spoil the real meaning of the day.

Anzac Day is not a time for thoughtless nationalism either. It a time to remember our country’s fallen and those affected by war; a time to reflect on what destruction wars cause. It is a reminder that we need to work for peace, but that sometimes, going to war is the only way we can achieve that peace.

LEST WE FORGET.

(c) Linda Visman

Anzac Day 2012

On ANZAC Day

April 25, 2010 at 2:11 am | Posted in Society, War and Conflict | 2 Comments
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Today is ANZAC Day in Australia, where we remember the fallen of the wars in which we have been involved. Particularly, society remembers Anzac Cove in Turkey, where Aussie and Kiwi troops endured their first major, and bloody engagements.

The following poem, “At The Museum”, is dedicated to my Dad.

He was a fighter pilot in the Defence of Britain during the Second World War, and the poem is based on actual occurrences from that time. My husband and I took Dad to the Air Museum at Narellan in May 2005 so that he could be with planes again. Though he is almost completely blind, he could see those planes in his mind’s eye – as they were when he flew them – and he marvelled at what he had done then. It was a coincidence that examples of the first and the last planes that he had flown were actually standing side by side on the floor. That is what gave me the inspiration to write the poem, and the opening lines.

When Dad “read” the poem, he said that I had taken a lot of poetic licence, and that he was nothing special. Maybe he is right – in the context of those days. There were a great many heroes then who would have scorned that title we give them today. Many fought and died. Many were wounded in body and or spirit. All were affected in some way, though in their own eyes they were just men doing their duty.

I think of them as heroes. And my Dad was one of them.

At the Museum

Vultee Vengeance and Tiger Moth

Stand side by side on the floor.

He looks at them now with a different view,

To how he had viewed them before.

He’d wanted to fly since he’d been a boy,

And with the misfortune of war got his chance.

In the machines that he flew, as his confidence grew,

He learned how to make those planes dance.

Many planes Britain used in defence and attack,

And many of these he was able to fly in.

Tiger Moth to Oxford; then Tempest and Typhoon –

But the Hurricane was the best plane to fight in.

He looks up at the Vengeance and wonders aloud

How he’d climbed up there as if on a bike;

To fly that machine with great skill and élan,

Firing machine guns and cannon alike.

He was a daredevil, and he wouldn’t deny it,

But he learned to control his high spirits.

He’d seen too many mates die when they’d lived too high,

And he’d vowed to himself he’d come through it.

The pride of the squadron he’d quickly become

Because of his skill and his daring.

He could make a plane do just what he wanted it to,

But it was because of his great love of flying.

He remembered one flight where he’d encountered a storm

And the visibility was down to near nothing.

He’d found the runway through the shining “chance” light,

And his landing, though rough, was quite stunning.

At least twice he’d flown on when he should have turned back,

With a plane whose condition was dicey.

He’d kept to the flight so he’d not miss the dance,

And his sheer skill had got it through safely.

He looked now at those planes standing next to each other,

The small Moth and the big fighter bomber,

And he marvelled again at what he used to do then

With these, the first and the last planes that he’d flown.

(c)  Linda Visman.  Originally written 21st July 2005

25th April 2010

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