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Saturday, April 25, 2015

ANZAC Day...

The other day I asked DH whether he had any photos of his grandfather, George, who served in WW1. So that's how, still dressed in his PJs, DH went through a case and box of his mother's memorabilia of her father. 

The little bundle of items soon piled up...I scanned documents and photos...



Despite the repair with sticky tape, what a find is this? DH's grandfather received a note from George v after winning the Military Medal. 

I took photos...
Not all these are DH's grandfather's medals...some are badges collected by my MiL... 

The medal in the left foreground is from the Boer War; DH's grandpa served in the Tasmanian Army during the Boer War. Note the badge celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Gallipolli Landing...
The medal on the left is the British War Medal and the one on the right is the Victory Medal. No one knows where the Military Medal is.  

We've consequently shared these photos and scanned documents with other family members,who were thrilled to get them. Some had not been aware of their great grandfather's war record. 

Yesterday I happened to be at Greenslopes Hospital which used to be the Repatriation Hospital. This private hospital also cares for veterans which was part of the conditions of sale of the hospital. In the Reception Lobby there were all these giant poppies which were for sale...made by volunteers at the hospital.

Lastly, a photo from social media showing Federation Square in Melbourne which is just a sea of red poppies to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipolli Landing. 


 Lest We Forget...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Another Encore Post; ANZAC Day 2014

Tomorrow is ANZAC Day and last year DH and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in the French town of Villers Bretonneux in the Somme region. (So much of WW1 was fought in this area and many Aussie 'boys' lie in graves in France and Belgium)
This service was one of the most memorable events of our holiday. However, this year we will watch the service on TV. This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing with our Prime Minister visiting Turkey for the Commemoration.

Here is what I wrote last year...

ANZAC Day 2014...

This day, April 25, is like the Aussie and New Zealand version of Memorial Day in the US, where service men and women are paid tribute for their efforts in times of war...and especially those who died while serving. Services, marches, and ceremonies honour these people. This year DH and I were fortunate in that we were able to join some friends of ours at 2 ANZAC ceremonies in France. In France...you may wonder?? 
I had heard over the years of French villagers who continued to honour the Australian soldiers who, during the First World War helped save these villages from the enemy...I had read articles of how these villagers came to idolise the Aussie soldiers...and this was passed on to the subsequent generations. One such village was Villers Bretonneux. They have never forgotten...each year there would be wreathe laying ceremonies on ANZAC Day. Just outside the village there is a war cemetery where Allied soldiers are buried. 
There is also a huge Australian War Memorial which is the scene of an ANZAC Dawn service each year, attended by dignities from government ( Australian, NZ, Canadian, British, French etc) and all 3 military services plus thousands of ordinary Australians (and some NZ ers)  and many employees from the Department of Veterans' Affairs in the Federal government. 
My friend Carmen's great uncle lost his life in this area and is buried in one of the war cemeteries, and we teamed up with her family and another friend, to be there. ( I also saw another friend who was also there among the 6000...she knew DH and I would be there from Facebook but we didn't know she was even in France...lovely surprise) 
It was the most awe inspiring and emotional experience to have! 
Our alarm was set for 2 am but none of us had gotten much sleep after we had said goodnight at 10pm after meeting up for dinner the night before in Amiens...
We had to meet at the square near the Carlton Hotel in Amiens at 2.55 am to catch our shuttle buses which would take us out to Villers Bretonneux...it was a five minute stroll from our hotel. There were hundreds of people already there when we arrived at 2.45 am...
The buses start to arrive...

We were on the B series of shuttle buses so we had a little longer to wait. My friend had brought over some wreaths made with sprays of wattle (artificial of course) which she would place at the 2 ceremonies.

The drive to the war memorial took approximately 30 minutes. When we arrived we saw the huge numbers if people making their way up the hill to the memorial. It was eerie...people walked silently in the dark...plastic matting made temporary pathways thus avoiding the muddy wet ground.
The Australian flag and the French flag at half mast...


An army officer who served with Carmen's son stops to have a word with him and his family...
The camera crews at the side rush to get footage of a French soldier who was obviously very important...
Before the service, music and vocalists were provided by the Australian Army Band and choirs from The Hutchins School and St Michael's Collegiate School of Hobart. And images from WW1 were projected on the wall of the tower of the memorial.
Near the end of the service was the wreath laying...governments first and finally families...Carmen and her son laid the wreath of wattle sprays...


By the end of the service the sun was up and it was very very cold...
The names of the dead are on the wall you can see in this photo above...they are grouped by battalion and battlefield of the Western Front as it was known in WW1.



I said it was cold didn't I?
Some of the war graves of Commonwealth soldiers who died in battles here in World War 1
After a very welcome hot drink in one of the hospitality tents we headed to where we had to meet B4 shuttle bus which would take us to the village for the next ceremony.
The banner on the village hall building...
The Town Hall was decorated with green and gold bunting and sported 'kangaroos' grazing on the lawn!
Three of the ladies in the centre of the photo are employees of the Dept of Veterans Affairs in the Australian Government and they were organising before the ceremony began... 
A representative of the NZ military hands in a wreath to be presented during the ceremony...
More last minute organising...
Part of the lovely memorial in the village...
The second ceremony was much shorter and of course had more speeches in French from the local dignitaries.the Australian government was against represented by Julie Bishop...the Foreign Minister.

Carmen gets instructions from the paparazzi before she lays the wreath...she ended up having to do it twice ...
And just a few more photos in this lovely village in the Somme district...

We'd seen 2 ladies with glittery Stetson like hats with Aussie flag scarves the day before...sure enough we saw them at the smaller ceremony...here's one of the ladies talking to our bus organiser...

Even though we were exhausted by the time we got back to Amiens...we wouldn't have missed that opportunity for anything!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This time last year...Encore post.

This time last year, in the morning DH and I left London and travelled to France...that afternoon we explored Calais. Here's what I wrote about that day...

Calais...

DH and I caught the Eurostar train from London to Calais. We were able to wheel our suitcases the short distance from our Kings Cross Hotel to St Pancras International Station.
The journey took a mere 1 hour and 1 minute to reach Calais in France. The train uses the English Channel Tunnel...I knitted while the train sped along much faster than any Australian train I've been on.


We were staying overnight in Calais as our connecting train to Amiens wouldn't be until the next morning. A taxi took us to our hotel...
This is the hallway from reception to our room.
Part of our lovely room...

After settling in,we went exploring the town... I noticed these cute little local buses that came along at regular intervals..
As we neared the waterfront we saw this large square...the town had erected a large sculpture in honour of Charles de Gaulle and his wife we presumed. (DH's schoolboy French wasn't able to completely decipher the inscription) 

This square was big!

We moved on towards the waterfront...

A zoom in on that big ferry...
A busy dock area...
We then turned around and walked the other way...
The large canal...

 We turned to our left and noticed some sort of tower in the distance...
We walked towards it...a bit closer now...

Then we were finally able to see the building...it was the Town Hall...

It was surrounded by beautiful gardens...they were magnificent!

There was also this rather imposing sculpture which we thought at first was the Burghers of Calais but the inscription didn't say that...we couldn't read it! Lol


Some more lovely buildings on the way back to the hotel...
Calais was delightful and 'getting into the spirit' DH and I sat at a cafe table on the pavement with a drink and a bowl of French Fries (pomme Frites) and watched the world go by! We went back to the same cafe later in the evening for dinner as well. 
Now a little extra on this post about Calais...
 Here's a closer look at the very swish orange juicer!