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A few thoughts for Remembrance Day

By Deadly Ernest ·
I'm Australian, and for over 100 years Australians have left our shore to fight overseas. They did so, in the strong belief that they were combating something evil and wrong. For most of that time, the soldiers were volunteer militia, later some were conscripted. In either case, they were civilians put into uniform, given minimal training, and sent overseas. Even the conscripts had the opportunity to refuse to leave the country. Until the middle of WW2 it was actually against our laws for the government to send regular Army troops overseas.

My father was one of those volunteers who went overseas during WW2, he was born in October 1921, so he wasn't that old when he went. For those in the USA, please remember we were fighting the Japanese for some time before Pearl Harbour.

Anzac Day and Remembrance Day are, and should be, more a remembrance of ALL those who fought, not only those who died. Many young men went off to war, and came back physically OK, but radically changed, and I don't mean those that were shell shocked. This has been the case in every case of military conflict throughout the ages. The problem many people have today, is in understanding WHY they volunteered to go to war.

Like many young men who went away in WW1, WW2, and the rest, my father was changed by the events in which he participated and witnessed. But he was, and still is the same as the majority of people alive then and today. That is why when called upon the young men of Australia have always, and I hope, will always respond and volunteer to serve. The Australian soldiers have always been average everyday Australians doing what they felt that they had to do.

Below are some poems by my father, then a young man who was developing into a very good architect before WW2, went to serve in PNG and other Pacific Island venues - in his late teens. After the war he couldn't stand working in an office, he had to be out in the open, where he could see what was going on about him; he was one of the lucky ones, he was never captured by the Japanese.

All who knew him, say that he came back a markedly changed person, as did his younger brother who'd been a Japanese POW. It was clear, they both detested what happened to them overseas. However, their love for those they served with, was strong as steel 60 years later, and when asked if they knew, before hand, what they were getting into, would they have still volunteered, they said yes. I think that is all part of the Anzac Spirit.

Whilst on active service, dad wrote many poems, and sent them home to his family. Like most of the diggers, he was aware of what the media and politicians were saying at home, and sometimes his poetry was in response to the issues of the day.

About 15 years ago my father wrote down some of his experiences during WW2, and since then I have found some of the diaries and poetry he wrote, whilst serving overseas. Two things that were very clear in what he wrote - he didn't enjoy being overseas, nor did he like being a soldier; but he volunteered because he felt that it was his duty, to do all he can, to keep the Japanese away from his family and friends in Australia.

Funnily, I know many people who have difficulty understanding this attitude, but everyone I know who has served in military service under fire, or worked in a tight knit group in extreme danger - like fire fighters etc understand it very clearly.

This was written when he was in the islands about two years

I wandered from the darkening tent,
My mind steeped in unrest,
And standing 'neath a stately gum,
Gazed, unseeing, to the west.

For my soul was sick and weary,
In my heart was sad regret,
As I pondered o'er the sordid things,
Which made my spirit fret.

I thought of days that used to be,
Of things that might have been,
The condition of the world today,
And the yawning gulf between.

Those happy, carefree, pre-war days,
The days we must restore,
So that others may enjoy them,
As we used to, once before.

Or the feelings of the moment, like these.

MILNE BAY - 1943

The sun was a golden ball of fire,
The sky a copper sheen;
The turbulent sea of yesterday,
A placid, carpet green.

We sweltered in the Tropic heat,
And cursed, or prayed for night
To come, with it's fragrant coolness,
Bringing us sweet respite.

Away across the sparkling bay,
Past scanty strips of sand,
The rugged ranges reared o'er all,
Their ramparts, proud and grand.

But, their wild, barbaric splendour,
'Neath it's tangled coat of green,
Withheld so many sad memories,
Of grim, bloody battle scenes.

They remember the sons of Australia,
Who had willingly shed their blood.
To wipe out the Japanese menace.
And they cherish the crossed bit of wood.

In neat rows, in secluded clearings,
Mute pleas to those who remain;
Asking that we do not fail them,
That their sacrifice be not in vain.

Or sent hand made Christmas cards back home with:

And though this Christmas time has found me
With nought but jungle all around me
There'll be plenty more for you and I to share.

So smile, and let your heart be gay
For though I'm many miles away
Remember that in spirit I'll be there.

Ernest Bywater - somewhere in the Pacific Islands WW2


Ernest Bywater

yeah we share the same name

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Sorry I cross postd

by Oz_Media In reply to A few thoughts for Rememb ...

Oooops, I usually offer a few thoughts for remembrance day, I started another thread, not seeing yours.

While replying to your comments (above), I started to once again think about a world that finally does forget about the veterans of war.

It does sadden me to see that there are fewer and fewer WW veterans that attend our Memorial Park ceremony each year. As they all age and pass on, I feel an even stronger need to never forget and to help others to remember.

A friend said that it's a good thing we have fewer veterans, the fewer the better. In an ideal world there would be no war vetrans. (Intresting view indeed)

I wonder what it will be like thousand of years after our time is up?

Will there still be veterans of war, or are we actually accomplishing something?

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No worries mate, the more posts the merrier, however

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Sorry I cross postd

to take up your point about the reducing number of war veterans you need to really think about the core aspects of that. wars are fought by two major groups of people:

Soldiers - people trained in the art or skill of soldiering, now days that means use of military hardware. Their job is to go out, do the assigned task, and come back again. They think about surviving the situation.

Warriors - people with the warrior attitude, who take that attitude and approach into a combat zone. Their job is to go out and destroy the enemy, or inflict as much damage as they can, while they can.

If you're a Trek fan, you'll know the phrase "Today is a good day to die." To a soldier this is a nonsense phrase, and means nothing. To a warrior, its such a basic they fully understand it without thinking about it, its natural.

As time moves on, and people don't go to war (huh, Korea, Malaysia, Nam, Grenada, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq 1, Iraq 2, ???) well some day, maybe. For discussion purposes, lets assume that it does happen, no war for a few generations.

People may stop training as soldiers, or the skills may deteriorate. We'll still have warriors, whose sacrifices, on a daily basis should be recognised. Heroes, who place their lives at risk for others, heroes who do things because its their duty, and they do regardless of the cost to themselves. Want to meet a few, go down the local fire station and say hello, it's full of them. most Police stations are too. Ambulances, and even farms, they're everywhere, working hard for others.

Personally I think war will always be with us, as long as people covert what other have. All that'll change is what starts it, why and how.

One quote to remember at time like this, and please don't ask who said it, I forgot:

"A free man can never be enslaved, he can be imprisoned, by guards and bars, or he can be killed. He can never be enslaved. To be enslaved you must allow, at some level, for the other to enslave you."

On a personal level, while there are free men, they'll fight against slavery of any sort, by anyone.

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