Anzac Day 2019

What better than to repost from last year?

I have posted often on this, as Anzac Day reposts: 1 shows. In 2015 I posted:

In my Neil’s Decades series you will find much that is relevant.

See

And going back to the South African War I should add:

….pictures of the people – all relatives – mentioned in those posts…

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John Hampton Christison in South Africa; David Christison, his son, a sapper on the Western Front in WW1; Keith Christison, my uncle, WW2

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Neil Christison, my uncle, RAAF WW2; Jeff Whitfield, my father, RAAF WW2

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Norman Harold Whitfield MC and bar, German New Guinea, Gallipoli, Western Front – from Wollongong; Kenneth Ross Whitfield, my uncle, from Shellharbour

One hopes that 2019 Anzac Day will pass without incident, given recent events in New Zealand, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.

 

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When the Great War ended — 100 years on

My mother was 7 at the time, my father was 6, almost 7 (November 25). She was in Braefield NSW, he in Shellharbour NSW. See 27: 1925 – Christisons 1 and 24 – Whitfields – 1917-1919. Extracts:

This man was for sure my favourite Whitfield uncle – well, the only one I ever met in fact. [There was Uncle George of course, but he was “by marriage”.] But he was a really good man, as I recall, with snowy white hair and a crack shot with a rifle – he had competed in that sport. See my April 2014 post Shellharbour.

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Kenneth Ross WHITFIELD (b.1897  d. 1967) m 1920 Esma H. EAST (b. 1895 d. 24 Mar. 1971)

There was a family legend that he lied about his age to get into the army in World War I, but that doesn’t seem to be true; he was 20 when he enlisted. Maybe he had tried before and failed. He did also serve in World War II.

The story I heard too was that he was a machine gunner. That may be true. However, his service with the 3rd Battalion was cut short somewhat by illness. He returned to Australia invalided quite late in 1919.

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So it appears that my Uncle Ken was at 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital (Bulford) at the time of the Armistice. Note what that hospital is famous for, but the only illness I can read there is synovitis. While at the hospital it seems he was made a stretcher bearer (Australian Army Medical Corps — AAMC)

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Now to Braefield:

There is such a trove on Trove! By way of background, see More tales from my mother 3 — Braefield NSW 1916-1923Jean Christison to her grandmother — an undated letter from BraefieldMore tales from my mother 4 — Dunolly NSW — and conclusions.

I am not sure but think this is probably Braefield, and the occasion probably the Armistice.

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13 September 1920

And here is Harry Hamilton.

So many anniversaries!

The true biggie has been the 500 years since upstart priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door, an event that truly changed Europe and the world. See the rather irreverent post Seven reasons Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation still matter today.

On a lesser scale, but very significant in Australia and the Pacific, we have coming up in a few days the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Track campaign.

But the one that has grabbed attention lately has been the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba. Quite a story, that. I have among my eBooks this — and am about to read it.
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It was first published in 1921, with an introduction by Sir Harry Chauvel.

It gives me great pleasure to write a few words of introduction to Lieut.-Col. Preston’s History of the Desert Mounted Corps, which I had the honour to command. In writing this History Lieut.-Col. Preston has done a service to his country which I am sure will be fully appreciated, particularly, perhaps, by those who served in the Corps, and who feel that the part they played in the Great War is but little known to the general public….

Lieut.-Col. Preston is well qualified to undertake the work. First of all in command of one of my finest Horse Batteries, and subsequently as C.R.A. of the Australian Mounted Division, he was often in touch with my Staff, being constantly employed on reconnaissance duties, in which he was peculiarly expert. He served throughout the whole of the operations of which he writes….

The Desert Mounted Corps was composed of Australians, New Zealanders, British Yeomanry, and Territorial Horse Artillery and Indian Cavalry, with French Cavalry added for the last operations; and it says much for the loyalty of all, and the mutual confidence in each other, that the whole worked so harmoniously and efficiently to one end….

In yesterday’s commemoration in Israel our PM gave a rather peculiar speech, I thought,  rather all over the place when compared with the speech of the New Zealand Governor-General. Israel’s PM Netanyahu spoke forcefully — have to award him a tick for oratory — but also delivered propaganda by the bucket load. In the course of his speech he mentioned that 4,000 years ago Abraham had been at that very spot — Beersheba. What he didn’t mention is that this hardly counts as an actual historical event, but oh the rather troubling weight that Jews, Christians and Muslims load onto this legendary figure!

Ironic too. I suggest you go to my post Before Abraham was, we are…

And the semi-mythical Abraham? Well, “according to Jewish tradition, Abraham was born under the name Abram in the city of Ur in Babylonia in the year 1948 from Creation (circa 1800 BCE).”

Way more impressive than that Australian Museum Timeline, impressive as it is, has been the ABC’s First Footprints series, which ended last Sunday night. It took three episodes before we got even close to the recent history – when Abraham, Moses and all that lot were swanning around one patch of the planet far away from here. That fourth episode punctured quite a few of our cherished beliefs about agriculture, hunter-gatherers, and civilisation.  It also included Papua New Guinea in the Greater Australia which once existed before sea levels rose around 7,000 years before Abraham. There was much reference to Bill Gammage’s seminal The Biggest Estate on Earth (2011).

The irony, if you like, is that among those brave Light Horsemen in 1917 were several descended from those people whose roots go back tens of thousands of years prior to the incursion of whatever individuals or groups might correspond to the story of Abraham in Beersheba. See ‘Not even classed as citizens’: Remembering the Indigenous soldiers at Beersheba.

Rather puts into some perspective the whole Abrahamic saga, very significant as it of course is given the good and ill it has contributed to this present world.

Finally, another picture relating to my last two posts. This is from Sydney High in 2014, a Remembrance Day ceremony with the school assembled in Moore Park. Quite an impressive photograph.Screenshot (125)

Ypres 1917: from my e-Books

I have been reading many e-Books lately. More on that later. Today I focus on one: Thomas Hope Floyd, At Ypres with Best-Dunkley .

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Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Best-Dunkley VC (3 August 1890 – 5 August 1917) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross. I note he was before the war a teacher at Tientsin (Tianjin) Grammar School in China. At the time of his death he was with 2nd/5th Bn XX Lancashire Fusiliers.

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I found this from Thomas Floyd’s book quite memorable:

We were joined by more prisoners as we went down. German prisoners have only to be told which way to go and they go. They are quite sociable people too—many of them bright-eyed boys of seventeen and eighteen. They are only too glad to carry our wounded men back; they need no escort. We got on very well indeed with them. I suppose that in a sense we were comrades in distress, or, rather comrades in good fortune, in that we were all leaving the field of horrors behind us! Yet they were the very Boches who, an hour before, had been peppering us with those bullets. One would never have imagined that we had so recently been enemies. One of them asked for water to ‘drinken;’ so I let him have a drink from my water-bottle. About half a dozen of them drank, and they appeared very grateful.

“Germans are not half so vile as they are painted…. They are only doing their bit for their Empire as we are for ours. The pity of it is that destiny should have thrown us into conflict. It is a great pity. How fine it would be if we could let bygones be bygones, shake hands, and lead the world in peace and civilization side by side! If we can fraternize so speedily on the battlefield, why cannot those who are not shooting each other also fraternize? It is a cruel insult to humanity that this thing should go on. War is hell, and the sooner some one arises who has the courage to stop it the better. Somebody will have to take the lead some time. I myself believe in peace after victory—but we are not yet going the right way about achieving victory; and, unless Sir William Robertson speedily changes his plans, we might as well make peace. This killing business is horrible. The present policy of the General Staff is: see which side can do the most killing. A far wiser, and far more humane, policy would be to win it by strategy. I believe in out-man[oe]uvring the enemy and taking as many prisoners as possible; make him evacuate territory or surrender by corps and armies; it can be done if we go the right way about it, but this bloodshed is barbarous.

One hundred years ago in Belgium: Dad’s cousin

It is rather appropriate that I am posting this on 29th September 2017 at City Diggers in Wollongong. Norman Harold Whitfield was my father’s cousin.

On 1st February 1917 Norman was awarded the Military Cross. The citation reads: ‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. He displayed great courage and skill in siting a communication trench under heavy fire. Later, he carried out a dangerous daylight reconnaissance. He has at all times set a fine example.’
Source: ‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 116; Date: 25 July 1917.

On 29th September 1917 he was wounded in action but remained on duty.

On 17th June 1919 he was awarded a bar to his Military Cross for action on 29th September 1918.

The citation reads: ‘Near Bellicourt, on 29th September, 1918, he led his company through a heavy covering barrage to their allotted work, and was responsible for the initial success of the day’s operations. Later, when the enemy held part of Bellicourt, he took forward a portion of his platoon, under heavy machine gun fire, and drove the enemy out, thereby enabling the road to be got through. Later again, in the absence of infantry, he organized a party and silenced a machine gun, and also dispersed the crew of an anti-tank gun. His marked courage and devotion to duty were an inspiration to his men.’

See also my posts One hundred years ago or thereabouts…, 22 – Whitfields 1915 and 25 – more on WW1 soldier Norman Whitfield.

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Norman Harold Whitfield

And adding to the appropriateness of where I am posting this: see Trove. It describes Norman Whitfield’s welcome home by the members of the Wollongong Returned Soldiers’ Association.

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