posted in: Life and things | 0
Lest we forget…

On ANZAC day Australian and New Zealand remember those who served in war – men, women, and the many animals that supported them – horses, dogs, mules, donkeys, pigeons, and let’s not forget the cats which helped keep down the vermin in the trenches and on ships. I came across this great little article about Australian cats in war. The story of the little black cat and the ill-fated HMAS Perth is downright spooky.

Peter Hoysted wrote an article in the Australian about the impact of the First World War. “In 1914, Australia’s population had hit the four million mark. 416,809 Australians enlisted for service or almost 40 per cent of the male population aged between 18 and 44. 62,000 died, 167,000 were wounded, 87,865 died of illness including by the pneumonic influenza known as the Spanish flu pandemic.”

Although it’s commonly thought Australia went to war to support Britain and that the battles had little to do with Australia, most of us tend to forget that at the time Germany was also a colonial power and in fact it ‘owned’ Papua New Guinea, which is a sand wedge shot from Australia’s north. The Australian occupation of German New Guinea occurred when an expeditionary force from Australia, called the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, took over the Pacific colony of German New Guinea in September – November 1914.

However, most troops fought a long way from home. The ANZAC forces fought at Gallipoli in an ill-fated attempt to secure the Dardanelles Channel so British ships could pass through to attack Constantinople (now Istanbul). The troops were withdrawn in 1916 and sent to the muddy horror of the Western Front in France and Belgium.

And then in 1918 they went home to their cities and towns. Every country town in Australia has its own war memorial listing the names of those lost in WW1. Many surnames are the same, brothers, cousins, uncles – all dead. A whole generation was decimated. They left a gaping hole in these communities which struggled to carry on. They’ve never been forgotten. Here’s what NSW town Hay has done to commemorate its veterans.

On that theme, Peter Hoysted wrote, “Sydney’s then focal point, Central Railway Station featured a cavalcade of men horribly disfigured by war eking out a living from handouts. Crime rates, often a reflection of social discord, grew. Property crime rates remained low but crimes against the person – assaults, manslaughter and murder spiked to the highest numbers in our history. 106 years later there remains no parallel to the rates of violent offending in Australia in the 1920s.”

It’s good to be reminded of such things. My parents and Peter’s parents lived through the horrors of World War Two and we have been privileged to live in relative peace and prosperity here in post-war Australia. I hope we never have to see a major war but the possibility keeps on increasing. More than one commentator has remarked on the similarities between political events at the present time with those of the 1930s which led to World War Two. We need to do more to prepare for war, even if we hope it never happens again.

On a less sombre note, have I ever mentioned that getting old sucks? No? Well, it does.

There I was, making the filling for the chicken and bacon pie for that evening’s dinner. I’d fried the bacon, sauteed the leek, carrot, and mushrooms with oregano, and poured in stock. Now for the thickening. Mixed some corn starch with milk and poured it in.

The mixture foamed! Bicarb is also a white powder and it resides in the pantry in the baking section next to the corn flour. It doesn’t thicken anything and it doesn’t taste nice so that was dinner ruined. I was told to sit down and watch the news while Pete fried up a couple of cheese and ham sandwiches.

The sandwiches were good.

On a lovely autumn day we went down to the beach for a walk. Quite a few families had taken the opportunity, too. We’re lucky to have these days to enjoy.

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