Anzac Day: General Debate

Fiona Goodall / via Stuff

Fiona Goodall / via Stuff

I am a staunch supporter of our armed forces, both current and past.

Anzac Day is solemnly observed.

As a result, there will be no non-Anzac related posts until midday.

Feel free to use this General Debate thread to share your Anzac stories, be that direct, or indirect. Be they about your own family, or someone you know or knew.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

For our Aussie Mates


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  • blokeintakapuna

    Forever grateful to all who have served, are serving and who gave the ultimate sacrifice…

    My Grandfather left the family farm in Maungaturoto, wife, 3 children, a modest herd of dairy cows and the farm and went somewhere in the Philippine Islands to build run ways for cargo and troops to fly in supplies and people, before the main contingents arrived. Security was often an issue because there was always only a “skeleton crew” building these advance posts until the run ways were complete…then everyone could land.

    He would never go into detail … And especially with a 10y/o boy… But said he always hoped war would never break out again and he refused to buy anything Japanese for years afterwards having witnessed the inhumane savagery the Japanese inflicted on prisoners of war. He would never elaborate, but I can still imagine horrific brutalities in the theatre of war.

    The only real reference my extended family have of the war was their daily life on a remote farm and my Gran having to manage a young family and the animals. Fortunately living on the farm, they were largely self sufficient with a huge orchard, vege garden and the Kaipara Harbour on the farm boundary… So snapper, oysters, flounder, eels and mussels were easily available… Then the dairy factory factory discharges put a halt to that largely…

    The shortages war brought meant rations on flour and sugar… Which was always brought in 10lb sack loads… And everything was made from those basic ingredients. It was a very basic, no frills existence… But full of good, honest hard work managing the farm.

    He survived and returned uninjured, except the profound impact it had on his life and the horrors and hardships endured. He lost many friends and to all of them, my family and everyone in NZ owe you all a debt of gratitude for your services and sacrifice for our country, lives and way of life.

    Thank you Service personal past and present…

  • Middleagedwhiteguy

    I have always found Binyon’s poem moving, but the words of Kemal Ataturk resonate more with me,

    “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
    Here in this country of ours.
    You, the mothers,
    Who sent their sons from far away 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.”

    • JeffDaRef

      I’ve been to Gallipoli and for some strange reason when you read those words you do feel physically connected to the place.

  • Big Bruv

    How nice it is to see our PM attend the dawn service in Wellington. It was not that long ago that the previous PM refused to attend a dawn service because the bilious bitch could not be bothered getting out of bed.

    • Macca

      Totally agree BB. Where JK garners so much public support is that he does this sort of thing but most important he is genuine!
      Unlike the sheer hypocrisy of the left – Goff springs immediately to mind! He used to protest against war, gutted the defense force and then has the audacity to attend ANZAC services and wank on about his grandfather – who was obviously 20 times the man Goff could ever be! Look at all the current wars and unrest at present – most of which are created by the failed doctrine of socialism – the same socialism practiced by Labour, and the Greens that the media keep ramming down our throats.
      My father fought in Guada Canal and I spent nearly 7 years in the NZ regular force. We used to feel sick when we would go to an ANZAC parade and watch any of these left wankers strutting around for a photo op – most of them wouldn’t have the guts to defend the country but they are happy to try and ruin it!

      • williamabong

        Clark was no better, her and Goff spat on the gunners of 161 Battery when they marched in Auckland on their return from Vietnam, and yet the bitch had the audacity to front at Galipoli and waffle about her uncle for the media, transparent hypocritical bitch.

        • She spat on my father in law, he has never forgiven her.

        • J.M

          Absolutely disgusted, but not surprised to hear that. I despise Helen Clark, fucking hate the bitch.

        • Macca

          I spent 2 years up in Papakura in the early 80’s and got on well with the 161 boys – once I got to know them. I would have loved to have seen one of those fucken snivellers spit on any of the Gunners/NCO’s I knew – they’d still be making a whistling noise every time they farted!

    • unsol

      I said it below but will repeat it here.

      I am incredulous & appalled that our former PM did not see it fit to attend an ANZAC service. Even if you are a pacifist & even if you felt that the NZ & Australian soldiers should never have been at Gallipoli, the reality is that they were there, they got crucified & more importantly through their loss we gained a bond with Australia & Turkey that stands strong to this day. That has to mean something. Their families deserve it.

      And that goes for those who have been killed in recent times too. For me, it is an old friend’s brother who lost his live recently in Afghanistan, a man who had done much to bring security to the region, who had more integrity in his little finger than Clark has ever possessed.

      So on this day of remembrance let us remember the families who are left behind & their need for peace:

      “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
      You are now living 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 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.”
      ~Ataturk, 1934

  • Eiselmann

    My Grandfather was a professional solider in the British Army, he was with the BEF in France , picked up by a fishing boat at Dunkirk, he landed on SWORD with the first wave, fought against the SS field by field, he retired 15 years after the war reaching the rank of RSM, he was a tough old sod when I was a young kid , he must have been something to behold in his prime.
    My father was an RAF cadet during the war, it ended two months before he would have been able to sign up , he did ultimately join the RAF and saw combat in Rhodesia amongst other places.
    Neither man really spoke of what they had seen, but my father installed in me a profound sense of pride in the armed forces. (and respect for the police)
    Which is why this day is so difficult for me, my father was a proud member of his local RSA he was active and from what I have been told well liked and respected, sadly his last years were full of stays in hospital , while many of his friends at the RSA reached out to myself during those difficult times , officially the RSA never did. What stunned me was a few months before he died he told me the branches welfare officer had never visited him in hospital despite being advised of every stay(including a 2 month stay, 2 weeks of which he spent in ICU) …nothing… not a call , a card , a visit or flowers. Turns out the welfare officer had a budget that allowed one visit to the hospital a year (not per member but per year) when I asked where the poppy money went …well no one ever gave a straight answer. I know this is not atypical of RSA’s but the experience tainted my opinion of them and I find that I can’t donate on poppy day anymore and that’s sad.
    I have the upmost respect for what our fathers and grandfathers did and that will never change but I’d love a lot more transparency on how that collection money is spent for me to ever donate again. For me the 11th of November is what I connect to more.

    • LabTested

      Regarding the BEF you might enjoy reading ‘Dunkirk The Men They Left Behind’ by Sean Longden. Available on Amazon UK.

      • Eiselmann

        Thank you, I’ll check it

    • Harroputza

      Eiselmann, I’m sorry to hear of your experiences. I don’t know if you’re on Twitter, but I’ve been following the Auckland RSA account (@aucklandrsa). They have been trying to modernise their approach recently, and they put out a pretty sweet infographic showing exactly where the money that we donate goes to, and that prompted me to do a little bit more investigating.

      Really, it is heart-breaking the sorts of things that these people need money for, and it really brings home the sacrifice that they have made and how little they ask in return.

      Here is the link to the infographic, if you would like it. I hope it can do a little bit to change the way you feel:

      • Eiselmann

        Thanks for that link I’ll look it up, if the RSA is being more transparent with how it disposes of the funds it receives via poppy day then that’s a good thing and knowing my small donation each year is part of a greater good I all I really wanted to know, I’ve never doubted many in the RSA work tirelessly on behalf of veterans but my experience as I said before, was very damaging its been 11 years since I put my hand in my pocket for the them…if there has been a culture change (for at least one RSA branch) then I’m happy.

  • I may not have been here were it not for some of your grandfathers, fathers, brothers, and uncles. My parents lived in occupied Europe during WWII. Life was bleak, food was very scarce. As a child, it was my father’s job to queue for food in enormous lines that could take all day to get to the front of, just to receive 3 or 4 slices of bread for a family of four. He couldn’t face a queue for the rest of his life. My mother had Germans billeted in her family home. The shame included being one of the few who would never be truly hungry, as billeted homes would receive more food to ensure the German soldiers were fed. Nevertheless, the guilt and shame to not be hungry while others struggled was significant. To this day, there are two sounds that make my mother flinch. One is when the local fire station siren goes off. The sound is the same as the air raid sirens warning of the planes being on their way. The second is the sound of warbirds flying overhead. The never ending rumble of the RAF flying over on their bombing missions, or the V1 and V2 rockets going the other way have left that mental scar. As I grew up, all the German war atrocities were mandatory viewing for every child at school. This included footage we would now rate for mature audiences only, or may not even pass the censor. As children we were made to understand. We were made to remember. Lest we forget.

    And that brings me to today. I can not understand what made people from the other side of the world jump on a ship to throw themselves at the Germans at a huge cost to themselves and their families. But I am deeply grateful that they did. Without those selfless men, and the sacrifices their mothers, sisters and families made, people like me may still be living in an occupied country, in a world I can’t quite imagine.

    They gave their Today, so we could have a Tomorrow.

    Thank you.

    • Similar storey to you Petal – and ANZAC Day being a motivator to go discover my family’s history and I had family on both sides in World Wars One and Two. I don’t have much from World War One (need to go research it) apart from my mum’s side, where the men served on the Prussian Imperial Forces in that war.

      From the Second World War (my mum has just shared her story now on FB) presented a more telling tale.

      My late grandfather was British, my Omi – German. On my grandfather’s side when WWII broke out he served on the Merchant Navy running the U-Boat Blockades in the Atlantic. Never knowing when that torpedo was heading straight towards your ship. At the conclusion of the war he went with the engineers into a devastated Western Europe and Germany as part of the first round of Rebuilding. Tales of a shell shocked and utterly defeated Germany were present to be seen. However, in that time he met my Omi and the two would marry.

      My Omi is German and proud German born and raised in the 1918-1939 period where Germany went from defeat and despair to a power that would change the World, bring around a more devastating War and bring the downfall of (in Europe) two large Empires that once ruled the world.

      She saw Hitler rise to power in 1933 with the massive boom time rebuilding and rearming Germany that followed. I believe she might of been at one of the massive rallies in that era – that I need to find out. But at that time – Germany did have a sense of hope, power and glory – only for all that to fall apart come September 3 – 1939 when The British Empire would again declare war against Germany.

      Omi as a factory girl witnessed up until the Battle of Britain concluding, and the Battle of Stalingrad being lost Germany scoring victory after victory against the West and East. However after those two particular battles would come the hardship. Germany would be on the retreat and bombed from overhead. She would face down the terror that Germany inflicted on London during the Blitz but this time the RAF and USAF inflicting that terror on Germany (so a reverse).

      I believe she also heard about and even might of seen the V1s being launched against London and the utter noise those primitive cruise missiles uttered. But by 1945 Germany was again defeated and pretty much utter destroyed. As most Germans would attest – they would migrate to allied occupation areas to be away from the Soviets knowing the revenge to be extracted by them. Also from power to nothing, from riches to rags, from plenty to barely surviving, from glory to defeat, from pride to well what ever the opposite that is. Omi saw it all from her birth in the 1918-1939 period – through to the end of 1945

      However she met my late English Grandfather when we was assigned to the rebuild as an Engineer in post war Germany. From there something considered extraordinary would of happened. He fell in love with her and I shall let this bit finish the story (from my Mum):

      “I felt shame of my German heritage and anger at my mother, but my dad who was from england fell in love with a german girl while he was there and brought his new bride home to meet his family, what courage it must have taken them both to marry and have children at the end of the war. I have named both my sons with jewish names, I felt it was my way of defying my german background. I have meet both sides of my family relatives and they came from such vastly “different backgrounds, I have grown so proud of my parents that love for each other prevailed.”

      Both Omi and Gramps would migrate to New Zealand in the 50’s through the British Sponsored Migration Scheme. New Zealand would become their home, my mum’s home, my home, my childrens’ home

      So I have that German and British heritage in me though I am Kiwi Born and Raised. Having family from both sides of the divide and war for me personally makes ANZAC Day very special.

      • Betty Swallocks

        Have you watched “Germany, Pale Mother”? Top movie, well worth watching, deals with ordinary Germans’ lives during and after WWII

    • unsol

      Thank you for sharing Pete. That is one hell of a family history & I can only imagine what your father & your grandparents went through – guilt of doing something in times where you really had no choice is an incredibly awful burden to bare.

      I am no fan of war – not by any means, and post WW2 have failed to see the justification of the West involving itself in what were essentially civil wars. But the reality is human life & choices are complicated so sometimes war just happens & in the case of the World Wars, sometimes it is absolutely necessary.

      Those few who sacrifice their family time, their limbs & often their lives so the many can live in peace, is something that should always be remembered & appreciated.

      I am incredulous & appalled that our former PM did not see it fit to attend an ANZAC service. Even if you are a pacifist & even if you felt that the NZ & Australian soldiers should never have been at Gallipoli, the reality is that they were there, they got crucified & more importantly through their loss we gained a bond with Australia & Turkey that stands strong to this day. That has to mean something. Their families deserve it.

      “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
      You are now living 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 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.”
      ~Ataturk, 1934

  • williamabong

    We should never be allowed to forget the debt we owe our returned servicemen and women, and those that didn’t return.
    The lowest form of bottom dweller in this country are those that use this day of rememberance to promote their pathetic causes, remember this you scum, people fought and died so you had the right to do this, offend the nation at your own risk, and please don’t feel bad when some old codger takes you round the back for the kicking you deserve.

    • Honcho

      My thoughts exactly, ANZAC day is not a day to debate the rights and wrongs of warfare. It is a day of remembrance, it has never been a day of celebration nor shall it ever be appropriate to use it as a day of demonstration, We as a nation made a solemn promise long long ago to never forget, dawn and midday services are our way of keeping that promise.
      Age will not weary them, nor the years repent, in the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

  • JeffDaRef

    Nice gesture WO – lest we forget

  • Gazzaw

    My father joined the RAF as a regular in 1938 at the age of 17 and volunteered for aircrew after completing his engineering training. He flew 28 missions over Germany as a mid-upper gunner in Stirling bombers and survived his first tour unscathed physically. I still have his logbook which contains laconic entries such as “Particularly busy night. Encountered flak and night fighters. Bombs on target”. The official Squadron history which I secured from the RAF historian a couple of years ago is somewhat more expansive describing the carnage that took place on that particular night with 20% losses and acts of individual crew heroism. It’s hard to imagine the terror that those young men must have felt during those dreadful missions knowing of the almost impossible odds of surviving their tour of duty. Dad like so many rarely spoke of his experiences until much later in life when prompted by me after the rest of the family had gone to bed. Whisky in hand he would not only relate some of those stories but also his bitterness towards Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris whose pig-headed determination to prove that his strategic bombing theories alone could win the war cost the lives of so many young men. Over 50,000 Bomber Command aircrew (including Kiwis) died in WW2 and it took the hypocritical politicians until last year to open an official memorial in case it upset the Germans.

    Per adua ad astra.

  • johnbronkhorst

    I was a Territorial at the end of the 70’s. Was memorial guard at a few dawn parades.
    My memory of that was great!! The old soldiers would take you back to the RSA after and tell you all their war stories, all the while trying to get you pissed before the morning service at 10am (great breakfast).
    My Uncle was POW from the invasion of Holland till the end of the war.
    Reputedly my father helped the resistance
    My uncle fought in the Maori battalion in North Africa, Italy including Casino.
    Father in law in North Africa
    My step Grandfather was at Stalingrad after being transferred to the SS.
    Perhaps this is why I have always been interested in WW2 history and get annoyed with people who are flippant about it. How scared people were, how, in places, close we came to losing and how heroic it was for us to win. Perhaps even the consequences if we had lost!!
    The funny thing is none of the stories you hear from these old soldiers, are never graphic, never the ugly side, they remember their mates, they remember the funny things that happened. I suppose that sums it up……The war is over…humanity survived and somehow was enhanced!!!

  • Gazzaw

    And it was kids like this that Clarke, Goff, Minto et al spat on and abused on their return from Vietnam. Kiwis who had to sneak back into their own country for fear of being identified as having served in Vietnam. And then in the 70s and 80s these filth would sully the memories of Kiwis who had served their country at each Anzac Day by disrupting Dawn Services and defiling war memorials. These people are all greens, communists or labour supporters now trying to sanitise their less than savoury beliefs to curry political favour. Well, just as I will never forget to honour our war heroes I will never forget the unforgivable insults and scorn that you visited on our servicemen and women.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Don’t know how true it is, but I heard that clarke was part of a group that sent condolence letters to the families of soldiers in Vietnam (who were still alive).

      • Gazzaw

        Her conscience or political expediency John?

    • Macca

      Well said Gaz! I like the cut of yer jib!

  • LesleyNZ

    We will remember them. Today we enjoy the freedom you fought for and some of you lost your life for us.Thank you for your sacrifice soldier :

    Lest we forget:
    It’s the Soldier, not the reporter
    who has given us the freedom of the press.

    It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
    who has given us the freedom of speech.

    It’s the Soldier, not the politicians
    that ensures our right to Life, Liberty and the
    Pursuit of Happiness.

    It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
    who serves beneath the flag,
    and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

  • RightOfGenghis

    I think we can all find a reason to heap scorn on gutless politicians but this is a day for remembrance for those who serve and died. My granddaddy survived the Somme and wrote his memoirs on his death bed 30 years later. They are a fascinating record of a normal guy who woke up one morning in hell…
    “We received word one morning that we were going to attack the Germans in the afternoon, and without a barrage – this was most unusual. Zero hour was set for 2pm and right on the dot the 15th North Auckland Coy scrambled out of the trench and rushed the German position. The enemy were undoubtedly surprised but nevertheless put up a very spirited opposition – it was pandemonium let loose for a while, but the men got into their trench and what ensured was hand to hand fighting with a vengeance – this part of the trench became ours as all the Germans were killed. There was one position opposite a Wellington Coy held by a very active machine gun – the Wellingtonians had run out of hand grenades. Volunteers were called to take boxes of grenades to the Wellington Coy. Another chap and I stepped forward – we were given a box in each hand and over the top we went. The bullets whizzed past us like angry bees, but we got there alright, passed over the precious grenades and started the return journey, made it back with shaking legs and in a state of panic but we were okay. That was my first experience of trying to be a hero and I have to say it was my last! I realised I would sooner be a live non-entity than a dead hero”

  • It is great to enjoy the modern freedoms these brave young men and women fought to defend. Our gratitude to them is best shown by fighting the enemy within who would tear these freedoms from us. From my cold dead hands I swear.
    We will remember them

  • steve and monique

    Good to hear our PM has attended the dawn service.It is important that our leaders are seen to pay their respect,to our Servicemen,both past and present. It was a day Dad used to get up early,polish his shoes,put on a suit,add his RSA badge to his jacket,and make the dawn parade. He served in WW2,but never claimed his service medals(which we are doing now).Said he did not need them to remember.Guess he had some stories that he did not want to share..Thanks Cam,glad to see that some still respect Anzac day,and what it means. As for Helen,and Phil,they should be forgotten.

  • I think it quite disgusting that over the last century various leaders of the Labour party have taken part in ANZAC Day commemorations.

    In World War 1 Peter Fraser et al were traitors and cowards banged up in prison for refusing to serve.

    In World War 2 Norman Kirk invented some imaginary illness to cowardly avoid military service.

    David Lange traitoriously ended our military alliance with America in support of the Soviet Union (there was no such thing as ‘non aligned’ in those days – either you were with USA or USSR)

    Phil Goff, Mike Moore and Helen Clark were highly supportive of the Viet Cong – who killed nearly 40 NZ soldiers – during Vietnam (Goff even raising a VC flag at Auckland University!)

    It was always a bit rich when PM’s Fraser, Nash, Kirk, Lange, Clark lay wreaths at Cenotaphs but it sums up the Labour party – traitorious, unpatriotic, cynical, deceitful, hypocritical.
    Anyone who supports them deserves to burn in hell.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Read Marx then you will understand!, Socialism is against ALL forms of Nationalism Marx only believed in the international socialist system not individuals or individual countries!!!

      • unsol

        Hence why socialism & communism has only ever existed in theory: USSR was Stalinism, China was Maoism & North Korea & Vietnam were/are a mix of the two. Actually I retract in part – NZ under Clark personified socialist theory in many ways (intelligentsia..or so they thought…feeding the masses & keeping them under the foot of the State whilst the ruling elite went about the pretense of ups killing them). But communism & the utopia of a completely level playing field – can never happen as it goes against the very nature of what makes us human.

    • Betty Swallocks

      Don’t know about Fraser as such, but if you want to know a bit more about how conditions really were for conscientious objectors over here in WWI, read “We Will Not Cease” by Archibald Baxter (James K’s dad). The free online text is available here;
      I’m assuming not too much of this is fiction. Please read it and tell me if you think being an objector in WWI was ‘cowardly’. Baxter probably endured far more personal indignity, terror and ultimately danger than most soldiers who volunteered in either war. Far more cowardly I would have thought to join up in wartime and serve out your time in, say, the Pay Corps for example.

      • Oh please! they were scared of being killed and so invented nonsense to get out of serving.
        They then enjoyed the NZ post war – on the backs of dead diggers.

        • Betty Swallocks

          As far as Fraser went, he was actually jailed for 12 months for sedition in opposing the introduction of conscription. He wasn’t conscripted at the time because there was no conscription, he just didn’t volunteer, as was the case with thousands of other NZ males of equivalent age. I agree he would have had a relatively easy time in prison for a year, but I’d again suggest you read Baxter to see what some of the less high-profile men assuredly DID endure. It’s a fairly simply written book, not too many big words, etc but, regrettably, no pictures. It’s even free to read online.

          • Gazzaw

            Sure Baxter had a hard time. Never at risk of losing his life, his limbs, his sight or his sanity though like tens of thousands of his fellow Kiwis. In comparison he endured fuck all.

          • Honcho

            Don’t know who keeps down voting, but I agree whole heartedly, conchies do not deserve to be remembered, and even then today is not their day, no matter your view on the rights and wrongs of warfare we made a promise long ago to never forget, remember that.

          • Well said Honcho – conchies got what they deserved

          • Betty Swallocks

            Read the book and think again. If your definition of ‘fuck all’ encompasses being tied to a limber wheel in the front line then left in a trench during an artillery bombardment following his experiences in prisons in NZ and overseas then fair enough, but do try reading the book.

      • mike

        My grandfather was a Methodist minister (in training) when WW2 broke out… he had the right to become a conscientious objector, however he enlisted and served with the army because he viewed the war as a just one. To the Army’s credit they didn’t ship him off to Europe to fight and he was posted to Norfolk Island instead.

        Says a lot when a man of the cloth thinks a war is justified and is willing to throw away his ideals in order to fight against evil.

    • unsol

      Most of what you have said is fairly accurate, but re Lange I suggest you do further reading. He was no socialist & scrapping ANZUS was the only appropriate action at the time. Some, like Clark loved to try & up the socialist movement but the reality is the Cold War was not our war & in fact was resultant from a fictitious threat stemming back to the fund of WW2 & the Marshall Plan.

      • You are correct unsol, except that Lange did not “scrap ANZUS”. Quite the reverse – it was his aim to make NZ nuclear-free and remain in ANZUS. It was the US who reacted to the nuclear-free policy by ending NZ’s participation in ANZUS. Shamefully, in my view. And Lange certainly did not promote any military alliance with the USSR as another post asserts above. He would have resisted any such move. Trade is entirely a different matter. We will always conduct trade with countries who may be on the “other side”.

        • unsol

          Yes, I agree. I meant he scrapped it by default – it was indeed all on the US & their bullying tactics. Yes their actions were completely shameful. And yes trade – a murky area as money is always the preferred language :-)

    • I am no Labour voter, but your post is riddled with inaccuracies and unreliable assertions. I can’t see how it helps anyone’s proper understanding of either the significance of ANZAC Day or NZ history.

  • My family name is German and my Great-Grandfather immigrated [Jumped Ship] in 1880; there was huge prejudice against German immigrants in New Zealand leading up to WWI to the point that we pronounce our name in an anglicised way. Despite this prejudice my Grand Father, his brother and several of his cousins fought with distinction for New Zealand in WWI; my Grand Father and his cousin [both named Herbert] were Sargent’s fighting from Galipoli to most of the major engagements of the conflict. Both were wounded but returned to fighting unfortunately the cousin lost his life in early 1918; luckily [for me as he had no children at this stage] my Grand Father survived. Later both my father and my mother would serve as officers in the New Zealand Army; My father was a Engineer and he project managed the construction of the Waiouru Military Museum. He was also involved in the establishment in the school of engineering at Linton Army Camp and this was recognized for the naming of a Forest Reserve in his name “Wedde Wood”. We owe so much to the solider’s who fought and died in war!

  • rangitoto

    My father was an NZ Navy signalman in WWII. For part of the time he was stationed on a US ship to act as in interpreter. The US signalmen had trouble understanding the messages being sent by their allies.

  • Betty Swallocks

    A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be involved with a bit of research into a NZ soldier’s past.

    The story was that a mate of mine who collects militaria found a WWI ‘death plaque’
    in a Dunedin antique shop in the ’90s. He stuck it up on his fireplace for a few years and had done nothing about it until we got talking about it over a few beers. He decided to find out about the guy whose name was inscribed on it, because we wondered how it had got into a shop on its own without any of the medals and the scroll that every plaque was issued with. It made us both a bit sad that all that seemed to be left of a guy, who’d volunteered to go 12000 miles to fight for the Empire and died less than 8 hours after he got to the front, was a crappy old plaque. Well, my mate got a copy of the service record, and we were able to piece together some facts about this bloke. He was a farm worker, 25 years old and unmarried, joined up in Oamaru in January 1916, went to Trentham to do his training then over to the UK in July, was posted to the 4th Btn Otago Regiment in France, and killed on his first morning in the front line in September 1916 on the Somme, at a place called Flers.

    If you know Oamaru and North Otago, one of the most striking features of the place is the oak trees that line some of the main streets, most of them with a concrete memorial cross at the foot – these were planted as a memorial for the soldiers from the area who died in WWI, and there are around 400 of them spread through North Otago. When we found the bloke was from Oamaru, we got in touch with the Council there to see if he had had a memorial oak planted. He apparently didn’t, but they said the RSA might be more help. They weren’t.

    I thought it would be good to try and trace his family so that if he had any surviving descendants, the plaque could be offered back to them, and so I put together an article for the Oamaru Mail in April 2011 containing a brief biography of the soldier and including an appeal for relatives to contact the paper; the editor was really happy to get a local interest story going, so she ran the article on ANZAC Day. The following morning I had an e-mail from a woman in Enfield, just outside Oamaru, asking me to contact her. I phoned her up and she told me that the soldier was her great-uncle, and that the plaque, medals and scroll had been stolen from her parents’ house some years before. She was absolutely stoked to know that any of the stolen stuff had turned up and we ended up talking about her family for a while. She was a solo parent with 2 boys, and she thought it would be great for the lads to find out a bit more about their ancestors. I told her that the plaque would come home in that case, and that I would put a booklet together about their relative for the benefit of the boys.

    I managed to write a bit more than a booklet in the end, partly because when I was re-checking my facts with the Cenotaph database, I noticed a soldier with the same name, from the same area, and a consecutive service number, who was killed in Belgium in 1917. The kid brother of my subject, also unmarried but a couple of years younger. They joined up on the same day and went to Trentham and then to England together, but went to the front in different drafts. Apart from this new information, out of the blue I was contacted by a cousin of the family who lives out in the sticks in Hawkes Bay. Someone had connected her maiden name with the soldier in the Oamaru Mail story and sent it to her; she sent me her memorabilia from both the boys who were killed, including original postcards that they’d sent to their parents while they were on passage to England, and copies of letters home written by the surviving brother.

    All this new stuff got me stirred up so I really went to town on the booklet, which ended up an illustrated memorial presented as a history lesson for the boys – we handed over the plaque and booklet in the winter of 2011 – and I also did a bit of work around getting a memorial grove planted for the brothers, and a few others who came from the immediate area, by ANZAC Day 2014 in time for the commemoration of the Centenary because the original oaks were lost in a road realignment in the 1950s.

    A bit long-winded I know, but I make no apology. This country should collectively be prouder than it is of its soldiers who VOLUNTEERED to fight for a cause that meant something to them. Nowadays they’d be showing up at the enlistment office with a medical certificate saying they were lactose-intolerant or had a nut allergy that rendered them unfit for military service.

    • Salacious T Crumb

      BS – I loved reading your post. Not only from the point of view of a tribute to a stranger who sacrificed everything for people whom he’d never meet, but also from the selflessness you have displayed in ensuring some vesitge of his memory is retained by us all and for restoring it to his surviving family. Thank you.
      I’d like to think by virtue of the number of young new Zealanders who carry on their relatives memory each April, that we are all proud of the service men and women who have serve us and have sacrificed so much on our behalves.

      • Betty Swallocks

        Thanks for taking the time to read it STC. I heard from the boys’ mum last year that the book and the plaque were taken to the Enfield ANZAC parade last year, and put on display by the lads.

        Putting it all together was just as rewarding for me as I was laid up off sick for a couple of months and it kept me sane. The more I found out, the more I needed to dig.

        The letters from France and Belgium and the postcards from Adelaide, Capetown and Bulford Camp made me cry and I’m a bloke who doesn’t often do that. They were farm lads off on an adventure and proud of what they were doing and why.

        I was glad to do the work in tribute to their sacrifices.

    • I’m going to highlight your comment as a post. I hope you don’t mind. It is a story that deserves to be more widely read, and I also think it reflects well on the sorts of people that frequent this blog. Thank you.

      • Betty Swallocks

        Thanks Petal, I don’t have a problem with that

  • LesterPK

    Just returned from the local dawn service here in the hills of Perth.
    Simple service but done with feeling. My father served in WW2, along with his 2 brothers, one still remains in Crete forever. My Dad was captured and spent 4 yrs as a POW in Stalag 18 in Austria. After the war while on the ship on the way home he threw the diary he had kept overboard, he didnt want to remember nor did he want others to find out what he had had to do. I wore his medals with pride today, alongside mine.

  • GregM

    I would like to thank the commenters here for sharing their family history with us. It really brings home the huge sacrifices that were made by these people. What they did has allowed us keep our freedoms and the lifestyle we have today. I cannot imagine how much different the world would be if it were not for these courageous people.
    To all service men and women, past and present, THANK YOU.
    Lest we forget.

  • Troy

    If anyone here hasn’t been to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day – put it on your bucket list. You will really get a feeling that to be frank is unexplainable but poignant. I went there as a serviceman in the late 80’s and it was an experience never to be forgotten. Lest we forget.

  • LabTested

    Blue Smoke. Written on a Troop Ship in 1940 by a member of 28 Maori Battalion.

    This version first recorded in 1949. When memories of those who did not return would have been very powerful