Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Diggers Day

Today is ANZAC Day, the acronym standing for Australian New Zealand Army Corps. The day marks the anniversary of the first major military action during World War I. As a percentage of population, no country paid a higher price with the loss of life than Australia and New Zealand.

It is a public holiday in Australia and at least for the morning, Australians do become sombre and serious. This is quickly forgotten by the afternoon when significant sporting events are played and consumers are free to get out and consume.

This morning a dawn service was held at our very grand Shrine of Remembrance and the rain poured down. For once the council takes a lenient view of illegal parking and as people depart, over their solemnity can be heard the veterans of Vietnam War who are rather fond of spoiling the quiet with the roar of their motor cycles. This year as soon as the service ended, sodden people flocked to their cars to return to the comfort of their central heating, a luxury the dead of Gallipoli could have only dreamed about.

Some time ago Time Spanner mentioned how few memorials there were to the fallen of the Boer War in Auckland. Well, I thought, we have plenty here in Melbourne, but actually I don't know that we have. What made me think that we had is the very prominent memorial in the triangular park at the corner of St Kilda Road and Albert Road.

I looked online for a photo and there were none. This could be because although it is a very fine memorial, complete with guarding lions, it is very hard to photograph. The only decent vantage point is the median strip of St Kilda Road. In better weather than this morning, I took my own Boer War memorial photo.


  1. Well! I had not realised that there WAS a memorial to the Boer War. So thankyou Andrew. Yes, the ANZACs were put on the Front Line for King and Country by the Brits in 1915. Geoff Page, well known as a poet here in OZ, was writing on this at the same time as he was teaching this history to a group of fifteen year olds - including me. He spent quite a lot of hours describing these events - and the outrage of it all. It was then the middle of the Vietnam-American War.

  2. Christine, over many many years, I have yet to hear anyone from both world wars say anything else but mention the horror and futility of what they were doing. While we may be quite aware of the horror and futility of the Vietnam War, I can't help but lament the blameless ignorance of the participants in the world wars where they were used as cannon fodder.

    PS, in future I will use the term Vietnam-American War.

  3. Lest We Forget :-).

  4. Maybe one day I will get to Gallipoli to pay my respects. I hope so.

  5. I like your photo very much, it's a grand memorial. We have a couple of memorials here in Adelaide, I've never had a close look at them. Thoughts of war make me outraged. They're so senseless. Although those that make money from them probably wouldn't agree with me.

  6. Nice photo of the memorial Andrew.

  7. up in the freezing dawn to bring us that image - your effort is noteworthy thank you. pleased to advise Ballarat has a handsome horse and rider statue in 1900 by sculptor James White on a 2m plinth in the main street, but get this shame>>
    Boer War memorial design unveiled Mar 2012 – It has taken a century, but finally a memorial to about 23000 Australians who served in the Boer War is to be built in Canberra" it will have 4 statues and cost $4m.

  8. I feel very ashamed that I forgot it was ANZAC day. It was only when I tried to 'phone home' to change the postal address on our house insurance that I heard the taped message and remembered.....

    Oh - then again, it's still 25/4 here, so there's time to make amends...

  9. Sorry about that Chief - frozen fingers in sunny Ballarat:
    this link works, and worth the clickthrough for the image of the memorial Boer War, Canberra proposed statues

  10. Hello Andrew:
    Somewhat to our surprise, but no more than that, we had prayers in church here in Budapest last Sunday for ANZAC Day this Wednesday. As far as we are aware we do not have any Australians or New Zealanders in the congregation. But your countries were in our thoughts!!

  11. Anonymous9:28 pm

    I was going to make ANZAC cookies last night in honour of today but didn't have any oatmeal... My Kiwi co-worker forgot about today but that's not surprising given it's a regular day here. V.

  12. I have been to the shrine a few times, mostly with overseas visitors. I like taking people there because it is in a very beautiful part of Melbourne.

    But I am anti-war (except for self defence) in general, and particularly against Australian and New Zealand lads being sent to die 12,000 ks away from home. So Joe and I did not expect to value our trip to Gallipoli. It was amazing! The Turks have looked after the area with great sensitivity.

  13. Windsmoke, I don't forget the creme de la creme of Australia's youth being slaughtered.

    Victor, I doubt I will, but it is a worthy aim.

    River, you are on the ball about money making during war. I knew there was a reason why I liked you.

    Thanks Rubye. Do you have any idea about the Boer War?

    Ann, I know. It is a handsome sculpture. I'll look at links tomorrow.

    Kath, you are are bad Australian. Bugle music should be programmed into you.

    Check it later Ann.

    JayLa, really? I know some folk in France, Belgium and Holland think of Aussie soldiers well, but why Hungary? Research required. Over to you.

    Psst, V, don't mention the war. The Japs, you know. I thought about making ANZAC biscuits this year. So did R, and he found a new recipe. We were full of good intentions. Guess who did make ANZAC biscuits, his name starts with D.

    The Shrine is wonderful Hels. We have only been once in ten years and it is only ten minutes walk away. I am sure Gallipoli, whether one is pro war or anti war, would be very moving. While we lament the loss of life there, it was nothing compared to the number Turkey lost. Yet, they are magnanimous in victory.