ANZAC Day - An Aussie perspective
- Dear Gerry Tordiff & Jim Yaworsky,
I have just returned from a visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia and was interested and moved by your tributes to our Anzac "Diggers".
Anzac day is indeed a day of remembrance in Australia , a day to remember the sacrifices of all those who gave their lives in the defence of freedom not only at Gallipoli and the trenches of the Western Front, but in all the wars that Australia has fought in, 11 in total.
Anzac Day is marked by dawn ceremonies and marches by returned servicemen & women all over the country, no matter how small the town, it will have a war memorial to commerate the "Great War" and this will usually be the focal point of the remembrance ceremonies. It is also a day for comradeship as those who have served in war gather for unit re-unions, to have a few beers and remember mates who did not make it back to Aussie.
It is indeed a proud and stirring sight to watch the Sydney Anzac Day March and see the crowds six & eight deep cheering on the returned servicemen & women as they march down George street under the colourful banners of their units. There are no longer any Great War veterens able to march, only the banners of those great Infantry and Light Horse Divisions who fought from Palestine to Gallipoli and on the terrible battlefields of the Flanders, the Somme, Bullecourt, Paschendale and on to the great victories of 1918 when the Hindenburg Line was breached by the Anzac Army Corps, leading to the "Black Day" of the German Army.
The Second World War veterens come next, Navy first as the senior service, with many famous fighting ships represented, HMAS Sydney a light cruiser that took on two Italian cruisers in the Med, sinking one and chasing the other until forced to break off, the old destroyers of the Scrap iron Flotilla, who also fought in the Med and helped supply Tobruk, to name but a few.
Then the Infantry Divisions, the victors of Bardia, Tobruk and El Alemain in the western desert, the disasters in Greece and Crete, the desparate fighting in Singapore by the 8th Div. forced to surrender and suffer 3 years captivity at the hands of the Japanese, then the last ditch stands on the Kokoda track in New Guinea to stem the Japanese advance on Australia.
Next the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), who fought in the Battle of britain, over the Western Desert and the Med., in the heavy bombers pounding Germany night after night, in the terrible conditions of New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, often outnumbered and outclassed by the superior planes of their opponents.
Then follows the veterens of post 1945 conflicts, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam and allied troops living in Australia, wars that are closer to the present, wars that were "dirty" and sometimes unpopular but men and women still answered the call and won victories and the admiration of their allies in these conflicts.
The men and women may be grey headed and starting to walk a bit slower but they march proudly all the same and it is not hard to imagine them as they were 50 years ago, young and proud and ready to answer the call to defend our nation.
Thanks to you our Canadian cousins for the words of respect and honour this Anzac day, your country too has a proud record in both World Wars and who can forget the brave action at Dieppe.
Sgt. Gregory Butt
73rd Regt. of Foot
PS :The Desert Rats is also a favourite of mine, especially as my uncle was a pioneer in the 9th Division throughout the seige of Tobruk. The term "Rats of Tobruk" was actually coined by Lord Haw Haw, the famous British traitor and was meant as an insult, of course it became a badge of honour for the defenders.
Waltzing Matilda was a favourite marching song of the army and had many different verses none of which I dare publish on this list!!!!!!.