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 observed solemnly.

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.


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  • idbkiwi

    Anzac Day; we will remember them.

    The National Archives have undertaken the massive task over the last several years to digitise WW1 military personnel records, there are now a huge number on-line and able to be viewed or downloaded. (However, all WW2 records are still embargoed).

    For those who had ancestors or relatives serve in the armed forces during “The War to end War”, or even if you’re just curious, I urge you to take a look if you haven’t already, it can be enlightening and you can learn so much.

    The image below is from my grandfather’s younger brother’s file; Private Jim Finlay from the 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment. On it you can see that he suffered GSW (gunshot wounds) to his face and hand at the battle of Messines on 7th June 1917 and was admitted to hospital after originally being posted as “Missing”, then re-admitted later that month with scabies (just one of the many trench-plagues). Guilty of a wee bit of insubordination he had been “Awarded 5 days FP02” (Five days, Field Punishment No2- a euphemism for latrine duties) in April that year after being “Absent from parade”. The final entry “Killed in action” on that dark, dark day for New Zealand when he, along with nearly nine-hundred other Kiwis, met his maker in the disastrous action known as the battle for Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele, 12th October 1917. More than 3,500 casualties were inflicted upon
    the Kiwi’s on that single day. It is impossible to imagine the horror, shock and dread those servicemen experienced, and it is no wonder so many survivors “didn’t want to talk about it”.

    Lest not forget the burden also on the women forced to “carry on with the farm”, or to “pick up the pieces” of broken lives, never to experience again the embrace of a lost husband, brother, son, or sons, or perhaps worse still; to have them come home and never know them again.

    For those who wish to explore the records, go to the link:

    In the “Keywords” box just enter the surname you want to search.

    In the “Series” box further down the page enter this code: 18805

    Ignore all the other boxes.

    Go to the bottom and hit the search button. Once the results are displayed you can narrow your search down by first names. If the record has been digitised there will be a link displayed “record online available”, hit that and you are done.

    To help make sense of anything you find (a lot of entries are abbreviated into military jargon) this link will be useful:

    Lest we forget.

    • ex-JAFA

      My grandfather was seriously wounded in the same battle which took your great uncle’s. Perhaps they knew each other. He’d just returned to the front lines after recovering from an earlier injury, but this one saw him sit out the rest of the war in hospital in London on his shiny new prosthetic buttock – the original “tin arse”. Many others weren’t so lucky. We will remember them.

      • idbkiwi

        It’s a small world e-J, maybe they did know each other, or share a cigarette or a beer, but even if they didn’t they would still be “cobbers”, all kiwis were cobbers.

    • Curly1952

      Thanks for the Archway link idbkiwi Both my grandfathers were in WW1 and one in WW2.
      I managed to track down there records through Archway. My aternal Grand dad was injured in June 16 and didn’t return to the war until Sept that year. My paternal Pop didn’t arrive in Europe until Sept 17.
      Great records aren’t they. Some of my Paternal Pop’s WW2 records are in there

  • George

    Today could be the last ANZAC day before Phil Goff becomes Mayor of Auckland. If, and should he become Mayor, I hope he has the dignity to remove himself from any participating role on this day of commemoration and celebration. Whilst the primary reflection of ANZAC is focused on the Gallipoli campaign, it is of course, a day for me to offer my eternal gratitude to all who gave service and the many who sacrificed their lives so I could live my life with pride in this wonderful country. Many of these men and women will be marching today.

    Father time has claimed almost all our service men and women from the two Great Wars so that leaves our Vietnam veterans to represent the legacy that they, and those who went before, established. A most painful experience for me is to write a comment that includes Phil Goff on this day. I plead to all Aucklanders, less we forget, this is the man who could only offer abuse and his saliva in response to their service and sacrifice. He cannot be Mayor. They, and indeed, all Aucklanders deserve better.

    • Frank N Further

      Phil Goof was at the Auckland Dawn Service; at the coffee, rum, & breakfast in the Museum after the service he was going around pressing the flesh with his smirky smile. Had to turn my back on him.

      • Damon Mudgway

        Sadly, this vile excuse for a man will never appreciate his alienation of those who have served and serve this country. I wonder if the man has sacrificed anything for others in his life? And sorry, being a politician doesn’t count. Please Auckland, just don’t do it!

  • GoingRight

    This morning the Auckland War Memorial Museum commemorates Anzac Day Dawn Service Very moving. Lest We Forget

    • cows4me

      I’ve never been to a dawn service, working. Will have to go one day.

      • Richard

        Waking up in the dark, in a free country, free to go milking…sounds like a pretty good dawn service to me Cows.

        Doesn’t matter where you are, or what you are doing, a contemplation and a feeling of gratitude is all that is needed.

      • rantykiwi

        If I could remember how to I’d come and milk your herd for you next year so you get the chance to attend.

    • MaryLou

      I took my daughter for the first time this morning. Hard to express, but am pleased I did. The men who served in our family were never ones to talk about it, which I respect, but it leaves only ANZAC Day as a reminder of where we’ve been – aside from movies. A time to pause and reflect. So necessary.

  • Keeping Stock

    Excellent turnout at Whanganui’s Dawn Service; many thousands filled the forecourt of the War Memorial Centre. It was especially pleasing to see the number of families there with young children.

    ANZAC Day remains a very special day to this proud Kiwi. My grandfather fought in WW1, my father in WW2 and my brother in our last days in Vietnam. I pray that my children and their children will never have to do likewise.

  • SlightlyStrange
  • Wasapilot

    Some of the greatest words ever written

    “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”.

    • ex-JAFA

      I’ve always found it incredibly humbling that a man we once considered our enemy could write like that about those who invaded his country to kill his people.

      • Wasapilot

        In 1934 he said
        “There is no logical explanation for the political disenfranchisement of women. Any hesitation and negative mentality on this subject is nothing more than a fading social phenomenon of the past. …Women must have the right to vote and to be elected; because democracy dictates that, because there are interests that women must defend, and because there are social duties that women must perform.”

        One of the greatest leaders of all time IMHO.

      • rantykiwi

        And the Turkish people have adopted that into their culture – as soon as they identify you as a Kiwi they will shake your hand or put an arm around your shoulder and say “My brother”.

    • johnandali

      I have just returned from our local Anzac service. The Turkish rep wasn’t able to attend, so the local RSA president read those exact lines on his behalf. I had never heard them before. Very, very moving. And there they are in print, on WhaleOil.

  • Mad Mitch 21

    Anzac Day can kind of lull you into thinking the struggles are all over. Nz is such a sleepy place. Even in 2016.

    Peter Jacksons world war exhibition at the old museum in Wellington is totally brilliant. Everyone should see it. There is a fantastic model of the August offensive and lots of really interesting and important personal details. Plus the Anzac story is fully contextualised.

    • kayaker

      We saw Gallipoli when visiting Wellington in February. We had fully intended looking through other parts of Te Papa, but after seeing and experiencing the Gallipoli exhibition, we were emotionally drained to the point where nothing else mattered. Gallipoli is a must-see. It has left a lasting impression on us.

      • kereru

        We visited in last June – a truly unforgettable experience. There was a sense of reverence, a heavy quiet in which everyone seemed lost in their memories. I believe the poignancy of it affected everyone. When we were there a few senior schoolboys were visiting. I looked at their fresh faces, sombre and silent, and wondered whether they were thinking of those like them who were only in their teens when they went to the slaughter. I’ve seen many exhibitions, but this was so emotionally involving that, like you, we had no taste for anything afterwards. Don’t miss it.

      • rantykiwi

        I hope you also went to Peter Jackson’s WW1 display at the old Dominion Museum. It is also very good.

        • kayaker

          We will definitely do that next visit. Thanks!

  • hookerphil

    Big turnout in Christchurch, lovely Autumn morning. Oldest veteran present 103 years so would have been born just before WWI started

    • Wasapilot

      Just got home from the Christchurch Dawn service HP. As usual, moving, and my yearly time to shed a tear.

  • Doc45

    Jimmie Thomas came and stayed at our home many years ago. He didn’t talk about the war much but late one night after a little lubrication he related this story. He was taken prisoner by the Germans and a group of them were held in the dungeon of an old castle. It was cold, dark and damp. They were marched every day to a factory where they made ammunition.

    Waling back through a field at night they picked grass, boiled it in salt and fat from the factory and kept themselves alive. The odd Red Cross parcel helped. They became sick and several died. The rest were emaciated. They had virtually no contact with the outside world including no mail. Then the Americans arrived and opened the doors. Great jubilation. They walked down to a village and one of the first shops was a bakery. A stone through the window and they were into choice buns and bread.

    With tears in his eyes Jimmie recounted that twenty minutes later the first POW died. Then another who literally blew up from a distended stomach. Jimmie vomited unable to keep any food down. Of his nine friends only four survived.

    We shall remember them.

  • Joe Banana


    The soldier stood and faced God,

    Which must always come to pass.

    He hoped his shoes were shining,

    Just as brightly as his brass.

    ‘Step forward now, you soldier,

    How shall I deal with you ?

    Have you always turned the other cheek ?

    To My Church have you been true?’

    The soldier squared his shoulders and said,

    ‘No, Lord, I guess I haven’t.

    Because those of us who carry guns,

    Can’t always be a saint.

    I’ve had to work most Sundays,

    And at times my talk was tough.

    And sometimes I’ve been violent,

    Because the world is awfully rough.

    But, I never took a penny,

    That wasn’t mine to keep…

    Though I worked a lot of time,

    And the bills got just too steep.

    And I never passed a cry for help,

    Though at times I shook with fear.

    And sometimes, God, forgive me,

    I’ve wept unmanly tears.

    I know I don’t deserve a place,

    Among the people here.

    They never wanted me around,

    Except to calm their fears.

    If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,

    It needn’t be so grand.

    I never expected or had too much,

    But if you don’t, I’ll understand.

    There was a silence all around the throne,

    Where the saints had often trod.

    As the soldier waited quietly,

    For the judgment of his God.

    ‘Step forward now, you soldier,

    You’ve borne your burdens well.

    Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,

    You’ve done your time in Hell.’

  • Damon Mudgway

    Off to the commemoration in Tokomaru shortly. I also remember my Poppa, passed away at 80, served in WWII, and thank all those that gave and give their lives to the service of our country, past and present.

    Thank you for giving us the life my family now so freely enjoy.

  • powderburns

    In good faith.

    Dawn service trumpet services should be taken up by the young, with full lungs and an ear for music. Hand the baton to the young. No timid political speeches. Blast a cannon into the morning quiet. Waken the dead.

    Be glad our fore-fathers had the courage to defend what was right. Modern conflicts are now driven by fallen Musulmen on foreign soil. The west is safe, for now. The blood of our families has borne fruit: the long peace.

  • Brent

    Grandfathers Brother (great uncle) Two Brother served 1915 one came home.
    Full Name James Vincent Brooks
    Number 6/203
    Rank Private
    Regiment/Battalion Main Body, Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F.
    Date of Death Saturday, 8th of March, 1915
    Memorial Twelve Tree Corpse (New Zealand) Memorial, Turkey

  • rantykiwi

    Anzac Cove. 25th April 2015. Centennial commeration dawn service. (pic)

  • Steve (North Shore)

    For my Family it will be the same as last year. Glenfield Hall at 11.30 with the Grandkids. Then open the old photo albums to see my Parents and Grandparents in uniform

  • A number of my ancestors fought an died in WWI, WWII and my Father in Borneo/Malaya uprisings and then Vietnam.
    Here are some who went to Europe WWI, some of them did not return (screenshots from a book on my family) sorry about the quality.

    Lest We Forget

  • Nige.


    16 years old when I went to the war,
    To fight for a land fit for heroes,
    God on my side, and a gun in my hand,
    Chasing my days down to zero,
    And I marched and I fought and I bled
    And I died & I never did get any older,
    But I knew at the time, That a year in the line,
    Was a long enough life for a soldier,
    We all volunteered,
    And we wrote down our names,
    And we added two years to our ages,
    Eager for life and ahead of the game,
    Ready for history’s pages,
    And we brawled and we fought
    And we whored ’til we stood,
    Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder,
    A thirst for the Hun,
    We were food for the gun, and that’s
    What you are when you’re soldiers,
    I heard my friend cry,
    And he sank to his knees, coughing blood
    As he screamed for his mother
    And I fell by his side,
    And that’s how we died,
    Clinging like kids to each other,
    And I lay in the mud
    And the guts and the blood,
    And I wept as his body grew colder,
    And I called for my mother
    And she never came,
    Though it wasn’t my fault
    And I wasn’t to blame,
    The day not half over
    And ten thousand slain, and now
    There’s nobody remembers our names
    And that’s how it is for a soldier.

  • Aucky

    As each year goes by Anzac Day increases in national significance and has become the focal point for all generations not only to commemorate the sacrifice made by our servicemen and women but also to celebrate the pride that we have in our nation.

    It’s surely time to consider doing away with Waitangi Day – a meaningless day to most of us ‘celebrating’ the signature of a document that has become a symbol of division and bitterness.

    • Kiwiracer

      My father served in WW2, he never ever talked about his experiences nor did I ever ask, it is refreshing that my 16 year old daughter who wasn’t born till 6 years after his death has shown a healthy interest in ANZAC day and about her grandfather.

  • Aucky

    A day for me to remember my father who survived two tours with Bomber Command. Just twenty years old and manning four .303 Browning machine guns in the rear end of a four engined Stirling bomber before training to become a pilot. He survived the war physically intact but as he got older he became increasingly reflective and there was always a sense of sadness about him. He was a good man.

    • Dave of the West Bank

      Takes a brave man to do two tours, Aucky, especially as Ar*e End Charlie. No one told me when I was given a GPMG to hump around during CMT, that I’d be the one that the opposition would be shooting at the most! I was such an ignorant little Noggy that I din’t realise it until after I got out! :)

      Your, Dad, however, would have well known it and that is the true measure of his courage. One tour was mandatory – two was optional.

  • Isherman

    Nice service at Papatoetoe Gardens this morning. An opportunity to remember and thank the members of my family who served, and who thankfully returned us albeit wounded in one case.
    South African (Boer) War

    We remember them.

  • Sailor Sam

    This morning’s cartoon in a newspaper left me feeling uneasy.
    Trying to make up my mind on it, but it dos not ring well with me, dead soldiers are not celebrities.

    • sonovaMin

      I agree, it creeped me out.
      Knowing my grandfather, who served and was invalided out after being wounded on the western front and my father who was badly wounded in the pacific, they would not have liked being compared to celebs.
      But I’m sure the cartoonist meant well even if he was a bit ignorant.

    • Just be glad it didn’t fall to Emmerson to do one.

    • Usaywot

      I get your drift but I think what the cartoonist was trying to say is that modern celebrities are nothing compared to these people who gave their lives for us. The cartoon is clumsy but I think the intention was a good one.

  • idbkiwi

    A sense of humour was essential for morale: a 1916 postcard…

  • This in todays Herald Letters:

    As a normally generous Poppy Day donor I chose to not donate this year to an organisation that has so much money it could squander it on trying to influence public opinion on the flag issue.
    Denis James, Mt Albert

    I can only say this to Denis. You whiney little cry baby sook. Didn’t get your own way so throwing your toys out of the cot eh?
    I don’t actually remember the RSA spending any money on the “flag issue”. A few people voiced their opinions, which given the fact that so many of them fought and died just for the right to be able to I’d have thought that alone would have been a reason to donate to them, not whether they wanted the flag changed to please some bitter and twisted little man.

    Denis James is my nomination for cry baby of the week.

    • Mark

      I owe respect to those who fought to allow me to hold views that they knew full well they would neither agree with or approve of.
      They have my gratitude & my vow to always speak up.
      Freedom is not Free.

  • JustAnotherLurker

    Men, in khaki dressed. (Souda Bay, Crete)

    Twenty columns, twenty rows; a rose between the headstones grows
    Rank and file, creed and race, all are gathered in this place
    Now all here is neat and ordered, not so then, for the war dead
    Cretan soil their final rest; four hundred men in khaki dressed.

    New Zealand’s shores they’ll never reach; Souda Bay, their nearest beach
    May ’41, the leaders knew, the date their foe’s arrival’s due
    Enigma signals told it all, but Freyberg had to hold the call
    Strategy, played close-to-chest, doomed these men in khaki dressed.

    Brothers, uncles, fathers, sons: family heroes every one
    Heard the call their country made; great the price that many paid
    Now that generation’s passed and we wander on this grass by sea
    And in our freedom feel so blessed by all the men in khaki dressed.

  • LabTested

    I am currently ready the book – Death Traps.

    It is the history or an American tank division in WW2. The writer was in charge of salvage & refurbishment of battle damaged tanks. By the time the US army entered Germany 5 man tank crews were down to 3 personal.

    He tells one story that they had 19 new available tanks, so they took Infantry replacements (Without absolutely no tank experience), gave them less than a days training in tanks. – within 4 hours 17 of the 19 tanks were destroyed

    Death Traps : Belton Cooper

  • Carl

    • ex-JAFA

      Where is that?

      • Carl

        Not sure where it is. The picture is for the UK firm which makes them.

        • Miss Phit

          A decent lazer cutting place (or plasma for heavy metal sheet) could replicate that with the right drawings…

          NZ company wanting to do something , heres your chance.

      • johnandali

        On our last trip to the UK last year, we saw quite a few of these in public areas. I’m surprised that nobody has thought to export them to Canada, Aust and NZ.

  • LabTested

    During WW2 US admiral Hasey said … Intelligence signalled from Bougainville saved Guadalcanal and Guadalcanal saved the South Pacific

    We in NZ & Australia were saved by the Coast Watchers. Guys sent into to remote islands to ‘watch’ .

    It is truly an amazing story. Coast Watchers by Eric Feldt

    • Woody

      My father served at Guadacanal and that is almost all the detail he gave us. I have been able to fill in some of the blanks by reading and wished I hadn’t except that it explained much. We remember.

  • Sagacious Blonde

    The men in my family were religious conscientious objectors. Only as an adult, have I come to understand and appreciate Anzac Day and what I owe to those who did serve and sacrifice.

    • SlightlyStrange

      My MIL was an anti-war protester in her teens (the time of the Vietnam war) and carried that anger towards ANZAC day until just a couple of years ago, when she was staying with friends and did the “polite” thing and joined them at a local ANZAC parade.
      This year she is wearing medals and shouting all over facebook about her ANZAC related activities.
      Took her a long time to realise what it was really all about. I’m glad she has.

  • Mark

    In May 2013 I was able to attend the “Run to the Wall” in DC,this is my mate getting me the rubbing of the soldier whose POW/MIA bracelet I have.
    James M Ray

  • Union Jack

    Great ceremony and breakfast at the local RSA here in Hawera with a big crowd again this year.
    My thoughts go out to all the vets and the ones who never came home but special tribute to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade which my grandfather was part of and it’s loyal service on the Western Front from 1916 – 1918.
    “Soyes Ferme”.

  • Ross15

    Thank you Cam. I think your idea of keeping the blog to just Anzac tributes until midday is extremely thoughtful and I hope others appreciate it as well.

  • Simon P

    Shame I had to witness Len Brown laying the wreath at the Auckland ceremony, for me it detracted from the honour of the occasion.

    • Kiwiracer

      Next year could potentially be worse

      • Simon P

        Yes it could. I can’t believe that Goff has the gaul to show up.

    • Grumpy of Onehunga

      Especially with Goff smirking in the crowd, alongside Shearet and Little

  • Left Right Out

    Today is such a powerful day for the country…. much more so than Waitangi day in my opinion.

    Those men are the bravest of the brave….

  • Miss Phit

    Im ashammed to admit I dont go to the memorials. I spend my time in the garden or with friends, but always with my mind on friends and family who served and have passed on.

    My medals seem like mere trinkets of cheap ribbon and tin compared to those worn by those brave men and women now passed. They earned their adornments in places we would fear to tread and even now some of them wont wear them because of the shame they felt when they returned and others didnt. Alongside that I cant bare to wear them, they feel hollow and unearned.

    The last time I wore then was 15 years ago while in uniform and at an ANZAC parade. I had a 3 year” veteren” of the navy laugh at the medals of some of the old guys stating loudly that she had more then they had (and more than me and I had been “in” for over 10 years). We reminded her that the ones she wore werent earned by her but by her ship and she was only awarded them because she was there onboard. Their medals were earned after months in africa or the middle east or some other godforsaken place where the lived and their mates died for months (not just 48 hours in a war zone at sea). Their medals signify their friends and mates, the hardships they endured and also the victories, but mainly they were reminders to us about the futility of war.

    So given that history I wont wear mine. I keep my grandfather’s (both of them) medals on display to remind me and my family that war isnt glorious like the movies and that for some of us they mean more than just being trinkets.

    Lest We Forget.

    • Mark

      Signing up & being prepared to do your Service as asked makes even ‘Only” medals for Service much more than merely trinkets. Thank you for your Service.

  • rantykiwi

    I’m just back from the Titirangi parade and service. Cunliffe (as local MP) gave a reading. I’m not keen on politicians giving religious readings as it tends to blur the lines between their job and religion a bit too much. However he did it very well – he could probably find a career as a vicar once he leaves parliament. I just wish he’d sat still through the service rather than bouncing around like a labrador puppy with ADHD – it detracted from the solemnity of the occasion and gave the impression he wasn’t taking it seriously.

  • rantykiwi

    We will remember them, (pic, taken at National Memorial Arboretum, UK)

  • Mad Mitch 21

    That was the best article in ages in the Herald today. It is about a book by James Robins dealing with the Armenian Genocide. I can’t wait to buy the book! Basically I didnt want to say it this morning but, I’m sorry guys, the Anzac thing every year is so predictable, and dull. I mean the depth of conversation around it. We all talk about our g/grandparents, bit of Pom bashing, feel heavy, war is really bad and that’s it. We should go over the history more purposefully. What did the kiwis get wrong here. Strategically and in the execution of their part of the various battles. What could have been done to make it work. Great to hear Robins say that poem by Kemal is a fraud. Personally i hate all that chummy stuff with the Turks. I’d like a rerun with us winning, shooting Ataturk, saving the Armenians and returning that bit of turkey including Constaninople to the Greeks. Why does everyone have to like the Turks? They’re originally Mongolian invaders anyway. Back to reality, it seems like there was NZ involvement with Armenians and good stuff too that we can be proud of. So better go and get the book now. Congrats to Robins for opening the annual discussion up and letting some air in.