TODAY is to remember those who served in war, but this year I’m thinking more of their parents.
You’ll think my reason trivial. You may even think it self-absorbed. You see, I said goodbye to my 14-year-old daughter a couple of weeks ago.
No, no. Nothing dramatic. She’s just gone to study in England for a while. Safe as houses.
But, gosh, I miss her.
Sure, this is what parenting is about: preparing the children for the day they leave for good. Preparing them to find their own way.
Can’t be selfish. Can’t say: “Stay home. Keep Dad company.” You can see their eyes searching for things far beyond your gate.
How much more agonising was this for parents whose children said they were off to war?
Jim Martin’s mum and dad tried. Their boy was 14, too, and wanted to be off. They eventually gave in and months later got a letter: “Don’t worry about me as I am doing splendid over here.”
But “here” was Gallipoli and days later he was dead.
Walking around the headstones of Gallipoli, I felt the dead might have had the easier part of it. For them, no lifelong ache of the heart.
The saddest inscriptions were from the parents: “Dear is the spot to me, where my beloved son rests.”
The most mournful graves were of soldiers who lay anonymous, under the words “Known unto God”. Each lay where their parents could never find them.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who fought at Gallipoli and later led Turkey, knew the parents suffered worst. That is why his famous words on the memorial at Ari Burnu are addressed mostly to the mothers:
Wipe away your tears,Your sons are now lying in our bosom and in peace.After having lost their lives on this landThey have become our sons as well.
What could parents do, whose children were determined to serve? To test themselves?
“It has been a momentous year in history and a great year for me,” wrote an exultant Corporal Edgar Worrall on the last day of 1915, having evacuated from Gallipoli .
“From an irresponsible school boy, seven months have seen me transformed into a soldier ...”
Two years later, he was killed in France. His father, a widowed clergyman in Melbourne, got the letter. The poor, poor man. - Andrew Bolt
Andrew also posts the Boer War piece
"Ginger Mick was a likeable rogue who, before he answered the call to arms to defend democracy, sold fresh rabbits in the streets of Melbourne. This book by CJ Dennis tells of his tender love for Rose and his experiences at war in North Africa. The verse is full of humour and pathos and truly captures the spirit of the era.
I. DUCK AN' FOWL
III. THE CALL OF STOUSH
IV. THE PUSH
V. SARI BAIR
VI. GINGER'S COBBER
VII. THE SINGING SOLDIERS
VIII. IN SPADGER'S LANE
IX. THE STRAIGHT GRIFFIN
X. A LETTER TO THE FRONT
XII. TO THE BOYS WHO TOOK THE COUNT
XIII. THE GAME
XIV. "A GALLANT GENTLEMAN"