Thursday, April 25, 2013

ANZAC Day musings

I realised something this morning. It suddenly came to me as I was lying in bed thinking about getting up and how I should have gone to an ANZAC Day service, that I really don't know much about my grandparents and their war service.

I mean, I know that they served - all four of them. I know that Grandpa B, Nanna A and Nanna B were in the Army, and Grandpa A was in the Air Force. I know Grandpa B fought with in PNG, and was at the Battle of Milne Bay. I know Nanna A was a nurse and Nanna B was in the records office. Grandpa A was in the NT at an air base.

So I googled. And I couldn't find much - how sad next to nothing of their time in the defence force is digitised! And yet I know there are photos of them all, somewhere, from this era. I have seen pictures of them in uniform - Grandpa A looking like Errol Flynn with his dashing mustache and rakish Air Force cap, Nanna A in the most surprisingly enormous stiff white nurse's cap. I'm going to make it my mission to root out the old photo albums, and scan some things.

They never really talked about it. Grandpa B told me only one thing about his time in New Guinea - that the rivers in the jungle were icy cold, as they came straight down off the mountains. He never talked about the fighting, or the Japanese, or his mates that died. Nanna B would sometimes mention the records office, but only how sad it was when they got the KIA and MIA lists, and they would have to send all the telegrams out to the soldier's families. Of them all, I think Grandpa A may have told me some things but I never asked him before he died.

And now I'm married into an Army family - both C's parents served (his dad for 20 years) as did his half-brother. C tried many times to get in but was rejected because of a dodgy knee. I think it broke his heart, that.

It makes me wonder - what can I do to serve? Should I do more for my country, my community? It's not something we think about much in peacetime, but it dovetails nicely with a thought I've had lately about volunteering and getting more involved.

So, as I watched the Dawn Service from Gallipoli this morning, my thoughts were not only with my family members that have served and gone, but also of what I can do besides buying a badge or a poppy.

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