Click here to return to Hugh's Page
"PILGRIMAGE OF A
I cannot emphasise how much I loved my father and admired his honourable and gallant life.
Twice he offered his life for his family and country, first in World War One and again in World War two.
Both times he returned in very bad health. World War One as the results of multiple wounds and in World War Two due to tropical diseases.
Thanks Dad for helping make this a better world to live in.
I stood and cried where my father fought to survive.
"The Anzac Spirit"
A phrase introduced into Australias
language after World War One meaning Mateship, Comradeship. It was about blokes who would
willingly give their life for a pal, his family and/or his country.
You see it in the faces of the old soldiers on Anzac day and Armistice Day. Also the youngsters who are proudly wearing their Fathers, Grandfathers and in some cases their Great Grandfathers medals on their right breast.
The look on the faces of the young soldiers
forming the Guard of Honour.
The mixing of old soldiers and the new young soldiers on days of remembrance. Swapping yarns and adventures, some true and some not so true.
The sad but strong old ladies who lost husbands
and sons in combat standing or sitting there remembering happier days.
The Australian spirit when disasters strike like the earth slide at the Snowy Mountains, the Granville Train crash, bush fires and floods.
This is also evident with another organisation I am affiliated with, The Gold Coast Seniors OntheNet, a club of seniors who help each other learn about computers and the Internet. Seniors helping seniors.
The Slouch Hat and the Rising Sun badge have
survived only through the persistence of the new generation of Australian soldiers wanting
to retain the traditions of their fathers.
The drive in a not so young sons heart to follow in his fathers footsteps through Gallipoli, The Western Front in France.
It was at Gallipoli that there emerged the tradition of ANZAC with the ideals of courage and sacrifice and the principles of mateship that distinguish and unite all Australians.
Thats the Anzac Spirit!
NASHOS AT ANZAC
25 April 1999
How proud I felt to be the son of an Anzac as I stood on the beach at Gallipoli 84 years to the very minute that those brave young men jumped from those small boats to an unknown fate.
What it must have felt like? Seeing your pals dropping into the water along side you that was already running red with their blood. Not to be able to stop and help them, not knowing whether you will be alive in just a few moments.
The small flimsy boats were not much larger than the average fishing boat of today. They were crowded with keen young soldiers ready to give their all for their families and country.
The Turks were waiting for them and the hail of bullets met them like a solid wall of red-hot steel. They stumbled through water up to their chests holding their precious rifles above their heads to keep them dry, this weapon being all they had to help keep themselves alive in the horrific fighting ahead of them.
In some units, there were brothers, father and sons, cousins and pals, none of them immune from sudden death. They struggled from the water and staggered up the beach until they were able to find some cover from the continuous blast of resistance from the ferocious Turks who them selves were fighting for their lives and defending their homeland from these invaders from over the seas.
Dads Division (2nd) was reasonably lucky as by the time they landed several months later, a beachhead had been established and they got ashore reasonably safely. Even though he and his pals of the 21st Battalion had a close call when a torpedo hit their ship, (the 'Southland') just before they arrived.
They lived and died in shocking conditions with poor food and clothing, but they managed to survive and this was where the "Spirit of Anzac" was born. This spirit has survived to this day in the willingness of our young fighting men to continue to put their lives on the line for Australia.
And in the later months of 1999 and onto 2004 our troops again served Australia in East Timor.
I saw this in National Service many years ago and I still see it in the eyes and feelings of the old Nashos when they march on Anzac day and whom I was very proud as their National President to lead them.
Part of my time these days is taken up with research into my family history. My father was an original Anzac, he landed with the 21st Battalion, Second Division on the 7th September 1915 after being torpedoed on the ship Southland earlier on the 2nd of the same month.
I lived with my parents up until I was married at 21 and I dont think I ever spoke to him about his early life. I was just not interested I guess. It is only now that I know what a terrible time he and his pals had in those trenches at Anzac and later in France. Wounded over and over, sent back to England patched up and sent back again and again.
So many of those young soldiers were never to know a life with a lover or wife and family. The ages of the listed dead and missing in action were well below 20 years of age. My father turned 22 on the ship coming home in January 1919. He was a Signals Corporal running phone lines through No mans land and later crawling back out again during the heat of battle to repair them. He did not consider himself a hero. When in later life when I did get around to talking to him and asking about it all, he would just say, "It was our job".
I, like many other young people, did not seem to be really interested in our parents past, what a shame this was, and still is. Each generation seems to ignore the learning of our "Oldies" and continue to get into all sorts of trouble.
I am very ashamed to say that I know my father better now than I did when he was alive, and it is to late to thank him and his pals for helping to make this a better world for all of us to live in.
Each Anzac Day I try to visualise what it must have been like, how lucky we were (the fifties Nashos) that we did not have to face such horror.
The sixties Nashos were not so lucky, many of them faced insurmountable horror in Vietnam.
Before I left for Turkey, I left the Gold Coast early in 1999 to travel to Townsville for a National Servicemen's State meeting.. I was to travel further away from my family in Melbourne for the first time since being in Darwin in 1980. Townsville is on the same latitude at Tenant Creek in the Northern Territory.
It was on the final approach down through the very heavy and low clouds into the Townsville Airport that I realised I was to visit another location where Dad had served, he was there for a period during World War Two. So the epic had started, my following in his shadow.
Townsville is a very Military town with several military establishments situated around the district. It was very enlightening to see that our nation is in such good hands. Meeting the many young men and women in our armed forces made me feel confident that in a time of emergency, a well organised and well trained organisation such as our armed forces could and would swing into action and this has been proven with the swift action in East Timor.
There are several museums; bunkers including General Mc Arthurs and Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey are still in evidence.
On the Sunday morning under great duress due to heavy rain, I was involved in the dedication of a Nasho plaque that had been placed in the Townsville Rowes Bay Park overlooking Cleveland Bay..
We were invited to visit and inspect two of the military establishments. The first being 10 Force Support Battalion, Maritime Wing, Ross Island where we saw all the heavy equipment required to get an army from one place to another. This included very large landing craft. We climbed into these enormous craft and one could not stop feeling in awe of those gallant men who hit the beaches in an amphibious landing. It must have been terrible for those young men. At that front ramp dropped and they were exposed to the hail of fire that would have been waiting for them.
After lunch, we were again invited to see over the RAAF base (5th Aviation Regiment) where one of our Nashos son-in-law was the Commanding Officer and we saw close-up the famous Blackhawk helicopter and Chinook twin prop giant. It was still pouring with rain and the water underfoot was flowing at about 100 mm around our feet. It was truly a magic day.
Possibly it was more outstanding as we were accepted into the military world as Nashos after so long. I personally was treated like a king all weekend due to my position as National President.
RE-ELECTED IN CANBERRA MARCH 1999
A visit to the War Memorial while in Canberra (March 1999) for the National Servicemens Association Annual General Meeting gave me more knowledge as I wandered through the fantastic panoramas depicting the World War One battle fields and wondered what I was to see in the next few weeks while visiting Gallipoli and France. I again looked at the dioramas of Mont St. Quentin where Dad told me he was wounded in August 1916. I felt so sad as I remembered him relating to the event as he stood beside me in 1958.
Our National Annual General Meeting I was re-elected to National President. This has pleased me a great deal as now I can go overseas with the strength of our great Australian Association behind me.
Major-General Kevin Cooke, AO, RFD, ED.
On the evening of the 13th April 1999 through a mutual friend in Seniors OntheNet I met Major-General Kevin Cooke. I had previously met him back in 1998 when attending a committee meeting that organised the 50 year Citizen Military Forces march.
The reason for the meeting was the fact that General Cooke had heard of my pending trip and as he had been involved in the pilgrimage of the old WW1 Diggers in 1993 and offered help.
He lent me a very informative book on his visit to France. It will be a great help to me in my hunt for Dads history.
General Cooke was a fine and helpful gentleman; I will be in contact with him again on my return as he is involved in the history of the 3rd Division in which I served in between 1951 and 1965.
I gave him a copy of the film.
"PART TIME DIGGER"
Filmed in 1965-7
A documentary on the 3rd Division Signals Regiment,
Citizen Military Forces.
Running Time 22 Mins
This film is now available through the
Australian War Memorial Film collection. File Number F00411.
It is now also in the Military History Library at Duntroon ACT
Just think, one of my
old movies is going
down as part of military History.
My world certainly changed in 1999.
I must admit that when the suggestion by Philip Penny, my second cousin was first made to travel to Anzac, it appeared to me a great deal of money for such a short time. For several weeks I pondered and worried about the cost, it was a lot more than I had expected.
But as soon as I saw the itinerary, I was hooked. At that stage I decided to check with Dad's Diary and mark all the places he had travelled and fought. I built a database of all these locations listing dates etc with the intention of taking the list with me to enable to keep track of Dad's adventures and be aware of where his travels took him.
Within the next few days (still in October 1998) I had made arrangements about my money and passport. I was roaring to go.
Already my money, passport, camera and general help from Dorothy Hartnett and Maynie (my sister) had been gained and with their help and experience of overseas travel, I started to formulate a procedure and list of requirements about money and medication etc.
The prospect of visiting Gallipoli has been an ambition of mine for most of my 65 years. Here it was 1999, close to the end of the millennium, the start of a new century and at last I was on my way.
I would be on the beaches of Gallipoli 84 years after my father landed there with the 2nd Division in August 1915. Then I would venture through the battlefields of France, Belgium and finally England. Following in his footsteps where he and his pals fought so valiantly till November 1918.
To stand in the shadow of those magnificent Australian Diggers who fought and freely gave their lives was a very moving experience for this old and tired soul.
Ready to go.
The last couple of days were somewhat of an anti-climax as I had all my packing organised, gone over and over what I needed to take.
I was ready to go and all I had to do now was wait for the time of departure.
In 1914 the storm clouds advanced across Europe to finally engulf the world in total war.
To the great adventure.
The rest of the story is in diary form, written nightly during the trip,
So here we go.
First a small excerpt that I was sent just before I left.
Description of feelings of a young Anzac on the morning of the landing.
On APRIL 25th 1915, 'after a service at midnight, they were called upon to fall in at 2.30pm. Each man was given a very liberal supply of rum and they stood ready for the landing. One hour later, the cliffs ashore just coming up like grey clouds in the moonlight. The big ships stopped steaming. Not a noise of any sort. The sea was dead calm.
They were all with full pack consisting of two or three tins of preserved meat, three pounds of hard biscuits, emergency ration of half an ounce of tea, two of sugar, an extract of beef.
A change of underclothing and a towel. They had sandbags rolled up and tied to the equipment on their back.
On nearing the shore the first thing they saw was
a flash of a huge searchlight. It appeared to come from Cape Helles and shortly afterwards
there came a second flash from farther round the cape. Then everything remained quiet and
still again. They were fast approaching the shore, the steam ships had cast them loose,
"THERE WAS NO TURNING BACK". NOW!"
(Recorded by an unidentified
soldier killed in the first landing)
Just before major attacks the young Aussies wrote home to their families. When some one at home wrote to the men at the front, they only wrote on one side of the paper so the troops could reply on the reverse side. They removed anything of value and left it behind in their trench, hoping they would return soon to re-claim them.
As they went into action for the first time, they were heard to say, "This is an adventure larger than life"
In the bayonet charges the men were told to remove the ammunition from their rifles, as they were to use the bayonet only.
As they went over the top of the trenches, they were mown down by the hundreds.
Johnny Turk was waiting for them with dozens of machine guns.
The ground was littered with the bodies of our young solders lying there where they fell.
Wednesday April 21st 1999
The day started early with a phone call from Dorothy and Joan wishing me well for the pending trip, it was very nice of them both. With Maynie (my sister), I left home at about 10.30 am (Aust) and I was on my way to Turkey. Maynie, Dorothy, Jenny and John (My cousins) were at the airport to see me off. The air trip was uneventful, the food was good and they looked after my diet very well, I was always fed first. It was a Boeing 777 and reasonably comfortable. Each seat had its own TV but mine was faulty and would not change stations but no matter as I was to excited too worry about it. I was looking forward to meeting the rest of the group on arrival in Singapore. At 10 PM (Australian time) I arrived in Singapore after travelling over several unknown foreign countries. It was a multi Airline set up, as there were passengers from Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Ansett on board. We left for Istanbul at 10.45 PM (Singapore time) travelling at 929 kms per hour on 16 ˝ hour flight over Chenvat and Panjim in India to Dubai in the Arab Emirates, up the Gulf of Oman to arrive 2.am local time. We went for a walk at the Airport, which was under very tight security; armed guards were everywhere.
Thursday April 22nd 1999
We left Dubai at 4 am (local time) with the prospect of another 4˝ hours to Istanbul, The plane was half empty so we were able to spread out and get some sleep. We travelled up "The Gulf" over Dhahran south of Iraqs Baghdad towards Beirut; we had to zig zag the dangerous countries. Eventually across the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey. As we approached Istanbul we looked down at snow topped mountains, the first time I have seen such a thing from the air, it was 12 degrees C.
We arrived at 7.30 am (Turkish time) and went through customs with ease, thanks to Ron Austin ( a Nasho) our tour guide.
We travelled through what is called the European area and saw the old walls of Constantinople. Our Hotel was unusual, as it looked nothing from the outside and up a small side street but inside it was very nice, comfortable and clean. We freshened up, had a shower etc and felt a lot better after our long plane and bus ride.
We found the Turkish people very nice and polite and very happy to see us. As Australians, we seem to have a special bond with them.
In the afternoon toured the Old City including the Blue Mosque, Tupkapi, Palace Museum, St Sophia and the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent.
What magnificent buildings. How did they do it?
Our Turkish guide, Bora was great and knew his stuff. By this stage we were all getting very tired as we did not get much sleep on the plane of course.
The money in Turkey was a bit of a problem to get used to as one Australian dollar was worth 250,000 Turkish lira and you were talking in millions all the time you were there, you were forever counting the zeros on their money. Lunch would cost 2.6 million and a packet of post cards was one million.
Just before we arrived Russian war ships had passed through the Bosphorus (the water channel between east and west Turkey), it would have been a great sight but we missed it only by a few hours. They were passing through due to the problems in Kosovo we were told.
Traffic in the small back streets of Istanbul was chaotic but the drivers were very patient, but you had to be very careful as they drive on the other side of the road and they appear from out of the blue and frighten the hell out of you. There are old men stationed on some of the very busy lane corners to help direct the traffic, whether they are paid to do this, we were unable to determine.
Philip and I went for an evening walk in the area near the hotel. It was interesting to see how the men would sit out side their homes and on street corners on their little stools and chat while the women seemed to be missing, you saw very few women in the streets at any time. When you did they were dressed in their traditional outfits with long robes and veils covering most of their faces.
Every where in Istanbul you could see evidence of the old wall of Constantinople, the old area was small compared to the large industrial sized modern Istanbul of today.
Friday April 23rd 1999
We awoke after a 9-hour sleep to a beautiful day; went on a boat trip on the Bosphorus, the winding straits separating Europe and Asia. Along the shores we saw a surprising mixture of the past and present as well as a range of splendour. The modern hotels and ancient villas of Wood "Yali", palaces of marble and fortresses.
It is amazing as an Australian to travel through these ancient lands where humanity and constructions go back not just hundreds but thousands of years.
We then went to a small Turkish town called Sariyar, untouched by tourists and had a very nice lunch in a small restaurant. We had a lot of fun with the owners as they did not speak English and we had to do it all with sign language, I shouted Philip lunch, it cost 1.6 million!
This where I bought a beaded Turkish hat.
During the afternoon we visited the Military Museum and attended the splendid performance of the Traditional Turkish Military Band. It was very different to any thing I have ever seen before as it was all done as it has been for hundreds of years.
We then dined on the rooftop restaurant (5 million it cost, big spender I am!) under the stars as the many, many Mosques around the city and via very powerful loud speakers called the faithful to prayer. We all collapsed early to bed again as we were starting to feel the strain of all the excitement.
Travelled by coach down the Gallipoli Peninsula via the small town of Gelibolu. We visited the Fort of Kilid Bahr and looked across the Historic Narrows, before taking the ferry across the Dardanelles.
When travelling south in our bus down the Gallipoli Peninsula I sighted a statue that I had seen a picture of in a magazine here before I left of a Turkish soldier carrying a British Officer in his arms.
The story behind this statue was this:-
There was heavy fighting between the Turks and
the Allies. The distance between the trenches was eight to ten metres.
A cease fire was called after a bayonet attack and the soldiers returned to the trenches. There were heavy casualties on both sides. After the very ferocious battle an incredible event occurred. A piece of white underwear was raised from one of the Turkish trenches and a well built un-armed soldier appeared.
Everyone was stunned and they starred in amazement. The Turk walked slowly towards a wounded British soldier, gently lifted him in his arms and started to walk towards our trenches. He placed him down gently on the ground near us and then straight away returned to his trench. we couldn't even thank him.
This courageous and beautiful act of the turkish soldier has been spoken about many times on the battlefields. Our love and deepest respect to this brave and heroic soldier.
First Lieutenant Casey (later to become Australian Govenor General 1967-71)
Saturday April 24th 1999
After the early morning walk along the edge of the Bosphorus waters near our Hotel we saw the wreck of a ship that had been blown up on the shore only 44 days previously, it was very large and a total wreck. Here was this gigantic ship lying on its side right next to the road and nobody seemed to be worried about it, it was very strange. We were told it was from a country called Honduras, just south of Mexico.
After a hearty breakfast we travelled by coach down the Gallipoli Peninsula via the small town of Gelibolu, after which the peninsula was named. We visited the Fort of Kilid Bahr and looked across the Historic Narrows, before taking the ferry across the Dardanelles.
We went through many Turkish villages until we reached Gelibolu, this is where I bought the ceramic plaques for friends of mine, Brian and Lenny and the scarves for the girls.
We passed over the seaway where the great naval battle on March 18th 1915, just prior to the Anzac landing took place.
We stayed in a Motel overlooking the very site of this mighty battle; it was so peaceful now. It was hard to imagine such an awful thing could happen right there.
I could see from my room the Turkish memorial of Morto Bay. The sea is only about 3 to 5 Kilometres wide at this point. The Anzac battle took place only about 15 to 20 Kilometres as the crow flies from where we stayed.
It was early to bed again as we had to be up at 11.30 PM to get ready to cross over the seaway by ferryboat so as we would be at Anzac cove the next morning at 4.30 am for the all-important Dawn Service. Not much sleep again, as we were all very excited at the prospect of it all.
The day ended with a beautiful sunset as described by Dad in his diary on 3rd October 1915. Here I was witnessing that very same scene; it was very emotional for me when I realised all this.
They enjoyed the beautiful sunrises at Gallipoli each morning as they could not but think that it may be their last.
Sunday April 25th 1999 (ANZAC DAY)
We were out of bed at 11.30 PM the previous night and ready to roll to attend the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove The traffic at this hour was unbelievable on roads that were not much better than goat tracks. When we finally got there the line of buses and cars extended for more than 5 kms north of Anzac Cove beach. Our guess was about 6,000 to 7,000 Australians and New Zealanders there. 75% of them were young backpackers, highly disciplined and all very keen to be there. They were arriving by the hundreds.
Our tour leaders wife and very able assistant arranged for hot coffee and Anzac biscuits for us as we arrived, it was a wonderful gesture.
As we ourselves arrived many small fires were alight on the beaches and if you did not know better you would think it was that awful day 84 years ago. Some of the back-packers had been there all night camping on the beach. It was a pretty but awesome sight.
Many of the young people asked me about Dads medals and many photos were taken, I was greatly honoured. I started talking to one of the young girls who asked for a photo and I asked, "Did she have any relative who was here?" and she replied "No, nobody, I am just very proud to be an Australian" This was magic I thought. A little later the same thing happened and again I asked, "Why are you here?" and she replied "I dont really know, I am German".
The service was very moving as the sun slowly came up over the mountains, showing Plugs Plateau, the Sphinx and other well known names of the many features of the Anzac battles. We stood on the actual beach where our boys first hit the beach. It was all so very awesome; I had a real battle to control my emotions, thats for sure.
Simulated flashes of gunfire racked across the crowds during the early stages of the ceremony, it was scary as well as moving.
The silence of the crowd was deafening as the last post echoed through the hills and beachfront. It bought more than a tear to my eye as it did for many in the crowd. Can you imagine 7,000 Australians being dead silent!.
The young people at the dawn service had been in some cases camped there on site in the cemetery to enable them to get a good position for some hours. At first I was upset that they had slept amongst the graves and possibly damaged the flora but when I returned a couple of days later, little damage was evident. I thought also the diggers who rested there would have been thrilled that so many of their Australian descendants and patriotic fellow Aussies should appreciate what they did and had gone to so much trouble to be there.
The Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Deanes speech at the ANZAC Day service at Lone Pine. .
"The morning light slants across the rugged peninsula of Gallipoli. It's a strong light, just as it is at home, throwing into high relief the cliffs and ravines leading up to the ridges. The landscape is softer than the ANZACS knew, for wild thyme and rosemary, the low scrub, scarlet poppies and Aleppo pines have grown again. Indeed, it is dedicated by the Government of Turkey as the Gallipoli Peace Park. Even so, when the bushfires go through, you can still see the trenches of ANZAC exposed like scars in the burned earth.
From the Lone Pine Memorial you look down to the blue Aegean Sea and marvel at how far those first ANZACS had come. You look up and realise how far they had to go. Here at the cemetery are buried men who died throughout the campaign, from the beginning to the end, the known and the unknown".
The Governor-General said `Here too, are commemorated over 4200 Australians and 700 New Zealand soldiers who have no identified grave or who were buried at sea. Among them Private James Martin, who died on a hospital ship. He was, we believe, only fourteen - though he said he was eighteen - perhaps the youngest of all the ANZACS to die here".
After the service, our guide (Ron Austin, our very own Military Historian and a Nasho) explained all the various locations. My major surprise was how small an area that the action took place.
We had a picnic lunch at Shrapnel Gully (I bought home some stones from here, See Dads diary (17 September 1915). And this is one of the locations where 'Simpson and his Donkey' carried many wounded soldiers to safety, see his full story here. 'Simpson and his Donkey'
We eventually moved onto our buses again and proceeded to Lone Pine Memorial located over the original Turkish trenches and tunnels. In April 1915 a single pine tree grew on the site and was destroyed during the fighting. A seed from the tree was planted in Australia and used to grow the present tree in the cemetery. This is where Uncle Jack Melvilles name is on the wall as he was killed at Courtneys post on the afternoon of the 25th April 1915, he only lasted 12 hours before being killed. I was also able to find some other names for some of my Nasho pals.
While waiting for the ceremony to start I met up with some Nashos from Geelong and later Wodonga, again many photos were taken.
Together with one of the other members of our party, Mary McCredden (A Sister of Mercy) we placed a wreath at the lone pine Memorial, as she and I were the only two who had relatives there.
By this time we were all near total exhaustion. It was so hard to believe that we actually in the middle of the battlefields of Anzac where both sides fought so hard to survive. We found shrapnel and trenches; I stood in a Turkish trench with our wonderful Turkish guide and shook hands with the true feeling of friendship with real emotion.
Members of the tour
and myself standing in the trenches with the ghosts/spirits of the many young lives who
died by the thousands right here.
The air still feels heavy with death and I am sure I could still smell the gunpowder and hear the gunfire.
On arrival at Lone Pine, Colin Piper, one of our group found a portion of a human skull, the cheek, part of the eye socket, jaw and some teeth. He showed great respect and immediately dug a hole and buried it where he had found it.
Monday April 26th 1999
Across the Dardanelles again by ferry to the Battlefields, Cape Helles and Krithia where the 2nd Australian Infantry Brigade of 3,000 Victorian soldiers including 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions who on 8th May 1915 charged into deadly fire of German and Turkish machine guns earning the name "The White Gukhas." We also visited Chunuk Bair and The Nek.
A great opportunity to explore the battlefields on foot, we marvelled at the advance made against enormous disadvantages and understood the meaning of ANZAC when we saw the graves of Australian and New Zealanders side by side where they had fallen.
Ron Austin again filled us in on what was what, he told us that most of the cemeteries are located where there was originally an Aid Station during the battle times. Many of the bodies were never found and properly identified, their names appear on the various walls at the larger memorials, such as my Uncle Jack Melville, who as I mentioned before is at Lone Pine memorial wall.
While at "The Nek" I found the remains of a toothbrush, this was later confirmed as a true relic as I saw the very same thing later in a museum in London.
I am writing this part of these notes outside my room in perfect peace, only a short distance from what was "Hell on earth" and I thought, "I could be sitting on the beach at Mornington or the Gold Coast". It is all so unbelievable to think such horrors took place not so far away.
While we were at one of the Memorials, Turkish jets screamed overhead and it bought us all back to reality as there was another "Hell on earth" only a few Kilometres away in Kosovo.
Again we returned exhausted to our Hotel. On the return trip on the ferry we sighted a submarine (Nationality unknown) coming down the Bosphorus, all very exciting, thats for sure.
Tuesday April 27th 1999
Todays excursion included other areas of the battlefields. Plugges Plateau, a 100-meter high plateau which dominates the shore at Ari Burhu, the first major obstacle facing the troops landing there. Quinn's Post, Johnston's Jolly, Steele's and Courtney's Post where Lance Corporal Albert Jacka of 14th Battalion was awarded Australia's first Victoria Cross of the war.
This is where my Uncle Jack (SNOWY) Melville was killed.
We went to Shrapnel Gully where we had a picnic lunch and I collected some rocks from there.
we returned to Anzac Cove where I baptised three flags, two Australian and the 41 Fd
I found the third grave at Hell Spit Cemetery for a friend and photographed it and left a poppy.
We all walked down "Bolton's Ridge" via Artillery Rd, a dirt track used now
by maintenance vehicles and tourists like us. It was an experience to walk through such a
place as we were right in the middle of where our boys fought so hard to occupy and hold.
It was a very fearful trip as the imagination ran wild with the knowledge that such
terrible battles took place there so long ago.
Colin Piper, one of the group walked down Shrapnel Gully from the top of Bolton's Ridge down the gully to the beach, no mean effort. He was exhausted. Imagine what it would have been like climbing up with bullets screaming around your head. I recorded an interview a few hours after this event. (Click here to read it)
We crossed the Bosphorus for the eighth time and the hawkers nearly drove us mad, they are very persistent and would not give up.
While on board the ferry I was pointed out by a Turkish guide to a group of Canadians
as "An Anzac". Although I felt very proud, I corrected her and said "No not
really but I am a son of an Anzac". This impressed them all no end. The Turkish lady
guide said to me "My father was there fighting your father". I reached forward
and automatically shook her hand and we had a long and emotional talk about it all, they
are lovely people the Turks.
The Turkish countryside could be anywhere in Australia apart from the very shabby homes.
|In the afternoon we travelled to the ruins of the "City of Troy" further down south in the Asian side of Turkey.|
Wednesday April 28th 1999
Leaving Cannakkale at 8.15 am, we departured after breakfast driving south in our bus down very narrow roads and on the wrong side of the road down the opposite side of the Dardanelles for our journey to Gallipoli. We had a very good driver and we all felt very confident in him. We were heading for Bursa, a long drive but it was very interesting to see the people working in the fields, mostly women, the men seem to spend their time sitting around in the village drinking coffee and/or beer.
It was strange to see the Turkish cemeteries in the various towns, as there were no crosses of course.
We had a great meal in a Turkish restaurant in Bursa and one of the waiters started jumping around like a kangaroo when he found out we were all Australians, he was a real scream.
We visited some more Mosques; the Tombs of the Sultans dating back to the 14th century and later the Silk market called Uskudar.
The Turkish Police were always very helpful with giving us directions when we were lost.
Thursday April 29th 1999
We awoke to look out the window and find ourselves above the clouds, as the Hotel was very high. The traffic in Bursa was slow but organised.
We visited more markets and the Grand Bazaar of Bursa.
After lunch we drove to Istanbul, across Marmara Sea by ferry.
The Turks do not seem to have any civic pride as the outside of their homes are shabby but the indoors are very smart and lovely.
One of the unpleasant sites is seeing women sitting in the streets with sick or deformed babies and young children begging for money.
Turkey is only about 1,000 kms high and about 2,000 kms long. The eastern half is called "Asia Minor".
By this stage we have had several meals and their food, their diet and menu is very nice. I will be looking for a Turkish restaurant in Surfers when I get home.
Armed soldiers and police are everywhere. Security is a big problem due to Turkeys location so close to so many volatile countries.
Spent the afternoon visiting the British Crimean War graves adjacent to the hospital where Florence Nightingale took her stand on the care of the wounded.
Friday April 30th 1999
Off at 9.00 am after a good nights sleep, by now the emotional stress and the continual activity is starting to wear us all down so today we just went to the Grand Bazaar. What a thrilling experience that was, it was just like it is in the movies, millions of products, jewellery (gold), metal (brass), leather, carpets and all sorts of exotic foods. We found a store selling "Atomic Viagra" guaranteed "5 times a night, Ha, Ha". There were literally hundreds of beautiful little shops selling everything. The shopkeepers were persuasive but not overbearing, where the street vendors drove you nuts. Prices could drop up to 80% from the first approach until you were climbing on board the bus.
One of my fellow travellers and I found a small café where we had some coffee. The service was great. The people would ask "USA" and when we replied "No Australians"; they always answered "Ah, Anzacs". We were very proud of the nickname that the Turks persisted in calling us. They were very happy to find out we were Australians as there is a very strong bond between our two countries.
Kemal Ataturk wrote this epilogue in 1934 in
memory of the fallen soldiers of the Gallipoli campaign.
It is dedicated to the Anzacs.
It reads as follows:
"THOSE HEROES THAT SHED THEIR BLOOD AND LOST THEIR LIVES...
YOU ARE NOW LYING IN THE SOIL OF A FRIENDLY COUNTRY.
THEREFORE REST IN PEACE.
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JOHNNIES AND THE MEHMETS TO US WHERE THEY LIE SIDE BY SIDE HERE IN THIS COUNTRY OF OURS...
YOU, THE MOTHERS,
WHO SENT THEIR SONS FROM FAR AWAY COUNTRIES WIPE AWAY YOUR TEARS;
YOUR SONS ARE NOW LYING IN OUR BOSOM AND ARE IN PEACE.
AFTER HAVING LOST THEIR
LIVES ON THIS LAND THEY HAVE BECOME OUR SONS AS WELL."
Reciprocal monuments were also set up in 1985 in Canberra (ACT), AIbany (WA) and Wellington (NZ).
At the market was where I managed to buy my two Turkish flags and multi pocket jacket. On return to the hotel Armada in Istanbul, we, Colin, Philip, Kate and I went for a walk around the small streets and saw how the poorer Turks lived. Some of the homes were in a shocking condition but the inhabitants seemed to be happy with their lot.
||Our last evening in Istanbul was
some thing very special.
We went to a Turkish night-club where we saw some fantastic and very beautiful "Belly Dancers". The night club was full of people from all over the world and the Master of Ceremonies was terrific and sang songs for each of the countries present, he was great.
As he sang the songs he moved to the
appropriate table and they had to join in on the song. Well guess who was chosen for the
Australians from our table, yes me and I cannot sing for nuts but with all the hype and
excitement nobody noticed my lousy singing of Waltzing Matilda. Is was a great and unusual
evening and the end of our stay in Turkey.
Saturday May 1st 1999
The day started with a short walk along the waterfront of the Bosphorus filling in time till we were ready to depart for Paris, France.
We flew with Austrian Airways to Vienna where we stopped over for about 1˝ hours, just long enough to enjoy a nice hamburger. The Austrian Airways were very nice and the food was great. We rejoined another plane to travel via Vienna to Paris arriving about 7.30 PM (local).
It was still daylight and our new French guide was a young woman, very nice too. She warned us about pickpockets etc. From the way she talked, it was worse than Turkey? I felt very safe in Turkey at all times. Immediately on arrival in Paris we went to our Hotel that happens to be only about 200 meters from the Eiffel Tower.
We went for a walk and stood under the tower, it is huge. We did not go up as it was getting cold and none of us had warm clothes on or our cameras so decided to try later in our stay. We walked around and crossed the river Seine; it is really a magic place.
Philip is a great lad and is very helpful to me; he has certainly inherited his mothers kind heart.
Sunday May 2nd 1999
I awoke very early and I went for a walk on my own under the Tower, crossed the river again and walked up and around the "Palais de Charlot", a magnificent large building north west of the Eiffel Tower. There were several aircraft in the air giving off red vapour trails due to the angle of the early morning sun; it was all very pretty. The whole place was very dirty after the previous nights activities, there were dozens of workers and trucks cleaning up. I went back to the Hotel, had a great breakfast, the best since leaving home.
The next thing was a tour of Paris in the bus visiting Notre Dame Cathedral where a service was in progress, all very spectacular indeed, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Opera House etc.
In the afternoon we went to the Monet Home and gardens, it was OK but not my cup of tea I am afraid.
I had some lunch in a small French hotel nearby. We were very close to the area when the Americans landed on D Day in 1944. There was no evidence of the heavy fighting that took place there either.
It is awesome to travel through lands that were ravaged by World War One and 20 years later, Nazi occupation. It is now so peaceful and quiet, but I am sure I can still hear the echoes of those massive bombardments that took place 80 odd years ago. I am sure I can smell the cordite and gunpowder.
I was on my own and all of a sudden I felt very lonely.
Language is not a real problem as you soon learn to speak with sign language and English is partly understood almost every where.
Money was better there, only 3.8 French Francs to the Australian Dollar, but things are about 1-˝ times to double our costs at home.
Monday May 3rd 1999
Our start to this day was a little later as we (3 of us) walked to the Military Museum (Hotel des Invalides) where we saw a lot of French military history going back thousands of years and the years of Napoleon, whos tomb dominates the place.
It was gigantic, unfortunately all descriptions were in French, so we had to work things out for ourselves. The Australians may have well as stayed home in World War One as far as this Museum was concerned as we get very little mention, There was one mannequin dressed in Australian uniform and it only mentioned Gallipoli. No mention of the thousands who died for France.
We had a very nice meal at a kerb side French restaurant on our way back to our hotel where we waited for our bus to take us to the Arc de Triomphe for a wreath laying ceremony.
|Wow, what an event,
the Arc de Triomphe is absolutely magnificent. We, the Australians were all lined up and
as a group were marched on all together.
The solemn ceremony took place with the ritual of turning up the flame of remembrance that is done each evening and I was chosen to close it down at the end of the very moving ceremony.
What a great honour it was for me and the National Servicemens Association of Australia.
Philip managed to get most of it on video so I will have a record of this event forever. I was very proud to be an Australian and a son of an Anzac.
As far as I know I was the only one on the trip who had a father there, all the rest had Uncles or Grandfathers. As we drove home, we travelled through the tunnel where Princess Dianne was killed, there is now a shrine above the spot where she died.
We then went to another French Café and had a very nice meal.
Tuesday May 4th 1999
Today we left Paris and headed for Reims and onto Verdun where we visited Fort Douaumont and Veaux.
The Battle of Verdun in 1916 was intended to Blood the French Army "white". The visit to Verdun soon revealed the horror of war on the Western front. We walked through the underground tunnels of the massive Fort of Douaumont; it was a dreadful place, cold, wet and very dark and spooky. I saw the Ossurary with one hundred thousand unidentified skeletons from both sides were on view. It was the most horrific experience I have ever had.
I could not take any pictures, as I was too upset to even think of it. The horror of it all could never be told with words or picture.
I wonder what it must of felt like during those horrific bombardments watching your pals being blown to pieces, knowing you could be next? Dad told me "Fear was shown in many ways, some cried, some prayed, some slept and some laughed".
A Senior British Officer was heard to say after a fierce battle "We only lost 30 killed, not bad eh!"
"Not if you were one of them" a young Australian officer replied.
I also visited the extensive museum standing on the site of the Fleury Railway Station.
Later in the day we went to Reims
Cathedral that had been so badly damaged by shellfire from both sides.
84 years later and they are still repairing it, the front still shows the terrible damage that was inflicted.
On the roadside to Reims we saw many road markers left by the Americans during World War Two. They consisted of a small column about a metre high with the distance to wherever (it was in French) and on the top of each one was a French soldiers Tin Hat.
NOTE:- It may appear that I rambled a bit in this day's entry but I was in a state of shock I think after all the dreadful things I had seen in this day.
Wednesday May 5th 1999
The emotions of this day were overwhelming as I was at Mont St Quentin stopping at the Australian 2nd Division Memorial. I stood within a few hundred metres from where Dad was wounded on the 1st September 1918. (see diary). To stand on the spot that was once hell on earth and listen to the wind and the birds really got to me and I broke down in front of everybody.
In August I9I8 the German Army made a stand at Mont St Quentin a heavily fortified position overlooking the city of Perrone. The Australian 2nd Division, heavily outnumbered were ordered to attack on 29th and 30th August. Clearing the Mount's approaches and overrunning the German defences capturing 2,600 prisoners. The week long battle for Mont St Quentin was one of the AIF's toughest actions and cost more than 3,000 casualties, Dad being one of them.
The hard fight was won forcing the defenders to retreat.
In Perrone we explored the Historaile Museum that traces the history of the First World War. It was very unusual but one of the best we had seen so far.
We passed the spot near Cappy where the "Red Baron" was shot down.
We also visited the nearby villages of Bray and Corbie where we had lunch. Maybe the street in Moorabbin where I grew up was named after this place Corbie?
I spent some time in Corbie walking around the streets and taking in some French culture stopping in at a small café and having a very nice Cappichino and was like no other I have ever had, it was delicious. When it came to paying, you just held your hand out with a fist full of money and they took what was owed, they seemed very honest about it all.
On we went to La Hamel where the latest new memorial has been built surrounded by the colour patches of all the battalions who were in the area. Saw the 21st and took some photos.
Villers Bretonneux Cemetery was our next stop, there was another huge wall like the one at Lone Pine at Anzac covered with the many names of men who were lost and their bodies never recovered.
We met the wife of the Mayor of the town and exchanged pleasantries. It was strange to travel along the roads and see the names of places where huge battles took place and then look around and see the surrounding county side looking so well cultivated, neat and peaceful.
The hotel we stayed in at Perrone was on the main highway and due to the very emotional day I had, did not sleep very well and awoke at 2 am. I spent some time looking out the window and saw the many semi trailers travelling from country to country just like they do here in Australia but from state to state.
Thursday May 6th 1999
Todays excursion took us to the village of Villers Bretonneux. It was here in March I9I8 that the German Army launched an offensive to separate the British and French Armies on the Western Front. The British Army was driven westwards as the Germans advanced rapidly towards the vital rail junction at Amiens. The Australian's were ordered to plug the gap and on 4 and 5 April at Villers Bretonneux they drove the Germans back.
The enemy attacked again on 24 and 25 April and again repulsed, Amiens was saved, this action claiming 1,200 Australian lives.
We stopped at the Villers Bretonneux School that was rebuilt after W.W.I with donations from Victorian school children by means of a penny collection.
We visited the War Cemetery and Australian Monument. You stand in the cemeteries and see row after row of tombstones and wonder about all the young lives that were never lived, no lovers, no children, no homes and lost to their families forever. Young men who gave their all for their country and families so as we could live the lives we have.
During the afternoon we passed through Le Hamel and visited the Australian Corps Memorial Park (opened in July 98) and saw the 3rd Division Memorial at Sailly-Le-Sec and the 1st Division Memorial at Pozieres "Gibraltar Site" and also the "Windmill Site".
During the battle of Pozieres the Australian Divisions captured and held the shattered village for a minor tactical gain, the battle had cost 24,000 Australian casualties; it is said that the area around Pozieres was "more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth".
At lunchtime we went for a cruise on the Somme river though lovely country that was once a great big mud hole.
Northern France looked serene and peaceful. On the surface at least, it shows no evidence of the suffering that took place 84 years ago. A gentle breeze wafted across fields that surrounded us, fields that have known both peace and tranquillity and the devastation of war. It is only when I stopped for a moment and remembered that this is one of the battlefields of the Great War, a place where so many young Australian lives were lost, that I was jolted back to reality. Only when I visualised the past with my eyes closed, retrieving the images seen so many times before, the old photos and the black and white film of the war, the hell and the human tragedy that was the Somme battle of 1916, did I realise the significance of the place and the events that happened.
On the old Western Front, the thrill of the trip was quickly subdued with a visit to some of the old battlefields - Villers-Bretonneux, Fromelles, Pozieres, Le Hamel, Amiens, Contay where Dad was again wounded (See Diary, 26th August 1916), Hendecourt, Martinpuich Mouque Farm, Warloy-Baillon and many others. All very small French villages and towns.
While every soldier has heard of these villages and towns, prior to our arrival in France these places were probably little more than names on a map. Setting foot on French soil changed that forever. It was an emotional, humbling and sobering experience to be at Fromelles on such a peaceful day, standing on the concrete bunkers used by German machine gunners, remembering that this is where the first Australian attack in France took place.
Or to move some 100 metres to VC Corner and realise those very same bunkers and their deadly contents were responsible for 5,533 Australian casualties in just 27 hours. While a vivid imagination can conjure up sights and sounds, it's unable to produce one of the senses - the smell that would have been so prominent, particularly as so many of the dead lay where they fell for two years, before being buried in a mass grave at VC Corner.
When we visited the memorial and the graves at Villers-Bretonneux and looked at the walls of the memorial engraved with the names of 11,000 Australian solders that perished in France and have no known grave, the enormity of the campaign on the Somme became clearer. Although I undertook this pilgrimage and was acutely aware of the sense of history, the trip reinforced and increased my knowledge and understanding. We saw the battlefields and wandered through the remaining few metres of trench at Le Hamel.
The French people will never forget the sacrifices made by the Australians all those years ago and after being in Northern France for only a short time, the Australians were acutely aware of those sentiments. After the battle of Le Hamel the French Prime Minister said, "When the Australians came to France the French people expected a great deal of you... We knew that you would fight a real fight, but we did not know that from the very beginning you would astonish the whole continent...I shall go back tomorrow and say to my countrymen: I have seen the Australians, I have looked in their faces, I know that these men will fight alongside of us again until the cause for which we are all fighting is safe for us and for our children".
The French Prime Minister knew then the value of the Australian soldiers, particularly the Infantry. The people of France still revere the deeds of the Australians and they are acutely aware of the historic links between our two nations. The love and affection will continue and the French people welcome Australians every year, happy that the Australians have returned to French soil, if only for a short time.
More cemeteries were visited and various members of our party found lost relatives. I believe there are over 1,000 cemeteries of war dead in France.
On the cruise on the Somme we had a very fine meal and we had a lot of fun with the French people on board, mostly women, I could not believe that we were cruising, eating, laughing and singing while travelling down the Somme. It all seemed so unreal, to think that so many young men fought and died on this very spot to enable us to enjoy this wonderful day of fun with the locals.
Before going to Villers Bretonneux we spent some time in "Hangard Woods" now heavily over grown over the remains of many trenches still remaining.
Some of the trees still showed signs of being blown apart by the shelling so many years ago.
When we got to the local school at Villers Bretonneux, I presented the curator of their Museum with our first Nasho Plaque.
All the villages are still in the old style and are very different to anything in Australia. Most have been totally rebuilt since the war but there are still a few remaining that show war damage from gunfire and shrapnel.
A very interesting thing was pointed out to us later in the day as we drove through the French countryside. We could see in the newly ploughed fields, many patches of pale soil that was in contrast to the darker rich soil where the shells had landed and bought the chalk from down deep to the surface. There were many circular patches throughout the fields.
Friday May 7th 1999
Each day has had its special significance, today we started off at Herleville where we were greeted by 24 local French Veterans carrying their battle honour banners and some of the local towns people. After a short service at their local shrine and a short march up through the village we were greeted in yet another ceremony at their local hall. This is where I presented our second Nasho Plaque to the Town Mayor.
After this we moved to another area for refreshments, where I met several French Nashos. Badges and my tie were swapped, it was a great event as none of us could understand each other and it was all done with sign language, it was hilarious.
We moved on to a town called Reincourt and they gave us a lovely lunch.
We stopped off at a school where we met about 30 school children who sang "Advance Australia Fair" it was very touching, we gave them each a gold kangaroo that had been obtained from the Australian Embassy in Paris earlier.
Saturday May 8th 1999
Todays excursion to Flanders, Tyncut, Passchendaele, Polygun Wood, Hill 60, Messines Ridge and the Menin Road the scenes of battles in 1917 which cost some 38,000 Australian casualties. Enroute a stop at Vimey Ridge we saw the well-preserved trenches and dugouts of W.W.I.
I keep saying each day is very special, the start of the day was at Lille and then onto Flanders Fields where we passed over into Belgium. What a beautiful country it is.
We went into Messines where all 35 of us dropped into a local hotel for a very welcome cup of coffee, we filled the hotel bar completely, we were made very welcome. All the villages were totally flattened in World War One and now you would not believe how well they have restored them. They looked great. You still see the odd place with evidence of the shelling and bullets about.
We were also told that during the first war, Cpl. Adolph Hitler hid in one of the houses during a shelling period. The population is only about 900. We saw very few people in the streets, it was strange, they must have known that those bloody Australians were coming back?
The first part of the day was in North France where we saw the TGV train, the one that travels very fast. 300+ km/h we were told.
We arrived in Ypres about lunchtime and it was a great place, it was totally devastated during the shelling but it has been fully rebuilt.
It is so sad to see graves with "An Australian Soldier of the Great War Known only to God" A poor soul they were unable to identify, there were hundreds of them in each cemetery.
This is where we collected the piece of shell I have in my possession and where I bought the nose cone of a shell that was later identified as an 18 pound British shrapnel shell.
We visited "Hill 60" where there was the "Great explosion" where the allied engineers dug a tunnel right over and under the German trenches and then blowing the Germans sky high.
As we travelled in the bus we started singing all the old war time songs. Our only young member of the group, Kate sang a special song and I recorded it, she was great.
The finale of the day was at Menin Gate in Ypres, what an experience. By chance it was the anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe in 1945 and the ceremony was a little more elaborate than usual.
This Ceremony has been conducted nightly since the end of WWl with the exception of the period of WW 11 when the Germans were there.
The ceremony was very moving with the buglers, bagpipes etc. I have a record only of the Last Post as my video camera had failed the day before.
We passed close to Albert and through Armentiers where we all sang "Mademoiselle from Armentiers" the old war song.
This where the Allies were first issued with tin hats in 1916.
We passed into Belgium at about 11 am and we were back out again the same day, a very short trip to another country. We passed through Nieppe where Dad had visited several times, 19th May 1916 and again on 27th June 1916 .
The French people in the World War Battle areas are very conscious of their debt to Australia and really show this with their welcome to Australians.
Sunday May 9th 1999
Today was our last day of the conducted tour. We started with a visit to Fromelles. The Battle of Fromelles l9th - 2Oth July 1916 was the AIF's first action on the Western Front. After arriving from the Middle East and Gallipoli, the 5th Division formed up in Egypt suffered 5,500 casualties in 27 hours.
A new Memorial dedicated on 5th July 1998 depicts the story of Sergeant Simon Fraser of 57th Battalion who risked his life to answer a cry from one of the wounded "Dont forget me cobber". For three days and nights after the battle, single men and parties continued to go out in no-mans land to answer appeals for help from the wounded.
The Mayor of Fromelles and the local townspeople welcomed us. I presented our last Nasho Plaque and our tour leader; Ron Austin received a nice plate in remembrance of the incident that is mentioned above which he later passed onto me.
We visited V.C. Corner memorial and the Museum in Fromelles.
After a fairly long drive we boarded a ferry at Calais to cross over the English Channel.
I left France with many mixed emotions as it is now so
very peaceful and I am sure now that
"Alls quiet on the Western Front"
The ferry was very large and was like a floating city, food, all sorts of shops were on board, and this is where I bought another Video camera.
We landed at the White Cliffs of Dover. It was a very pleasant trip. What surprised me was that at one time you could see from the ship both England and France by looking left and right, I had never realised how narrow the English Channel was.
After a very long bus ride from Dover where we travelled through the area where in World War Two the British fooled the Germans with a great fake army built of timber tanks and shop dummies dressed up as soldiers. We eventually arrived in London where we settled into yet another hotel and we went wandering about the streets of London until we found a nice small restaurant where we ate some good English food (Pizza Ha, Ha). Watched some of the footage I had taken with the video, not bad, not good.
Monday May 10th 1999
To start with I spent some time with Philip and friends at Harrods but soon realised that their interests were not mine, so I took off on my own.
I spent most of the day wandering around London and the first place I found was Buckingham Palace where I was able to witness the last 20 minutes of the Changing of the Guard and also the Household Cavalry in action in Green Park near the palace.
I had my lunch at Buckingham palace, a hot dog at the gates and moved onto see Jeremy Lilly of the British Legion and we made arrangements to have lunch together the following Wednesday. The last part of the day was spent at the War Cabinet Rooms near Number 10 Downing Street. I started to walk home but it started to rain so caught a London cab back to the hotel where I crashed.
Tuesday May 11th 1999
A quiet day today as we had to move camp as our original tour had finished and Philip and I were on our own now. The new hotel was not as flash as we had been used to but clean and rather small.
We had a nice lunch in an English Pub, went for a short walk and then rested for a couple of hours. We ventured out and saw the outside of Westminster Abbey but of course it was closed at this time of night.
We stood under Big Ben as it struck 6pm, walked along the Thames river, up past the Houses of Parliament, saw Nelsons Column, some of the British Theatres and then finally some English Fish and Chips for tea. All very nice food, well prepared and plenty of it. There are street after street of apartments, about 4 to a building, they are all very posh.
The British TV is awful, nothing very interesting at all. Crashed early and had a good sleep in our now tiny room. It was 2.5 metres by 4.5 metres.
We have found in Europe and England that renovation of old buildings are done in preference to new structures. This maintains the nice Old World look.
All the shops seem to be operated by non English people; mostly coloured from all over what was the British Empire.
Wednesday May 12th 1999
Walked up to Buckingham Palace and filmed the guards rehearsing then went for an open topped bus tour of London. It was very good and informative, we saw Shakespeares pub, Cromwells statue and many more of past Kings and Queens, Nelsons Column and the Tower Bridge. Later in this day, Philip and I went for a walk around the area of our hotel and on return I looked up Dads diary and would you believe he had walked the same area back in 1917-18.
I returned to have lunch with Jeremy Lilley from the British Legion, a very pleasant hour in one of Londons oldest pubs.
Went and collected Philip at the War Cabinet Rooms and caught a London cab to the Imperial War Museum. Wow! what a place, we experienced a simulated air raid in a bomb shelter during the London blitz during World War Two and then travelled through some very dark and creepy World War One trenches with a simulated battle going on only a few feet away from us. There were hundreds of very interesting displays. On leaving we had a pizza then walked down towards Victoria Station. This amazed me as up until now we had not seen any major shopping centres and here it all was at Victoria Station, just like Australia fair here in Southport.
Nearly all shopping appeared to be small private shops and street vendors etc. But when we entered Victoria Station as if we were in one of Australias major shopping centres. Walking back we got a little lost but it is amazing how you get the feel of a district no matter where you are in any city of the world. We were now in the last hotel of the trip after staying in 9 different hotels in 3 different counties. We have had to handle 5 types of currency, Australian Dollar, Turkish Lira, French Francs, Belgium Francs and British Pounds sterling, all in 4 weeks.
Thursday May 13th 1999
We started with an attempt to visit Westminster Abby but found it to be closed to tourists till 1 PM. We walked along the Thames river a long, long way and visited HMS Belfast, Europes last big gun armoured warship of World War Two.
Our next adventure was to walk across the Tower Bridge until we stopped and called a cab. Philip stopped off to visit some medal collectors shops. I am afraid the pressure was at last starting to get at me as I was totally exhausted and could not keep up.
We were unable to visit Westminster Abby as the queues were so large and the entry fees were so high. It was a great pity but neither of us had the stamina to sit the queues out. We are both approaching total exhaustion and will not be sorry to get home; we are both dreading the long flight home.
Friday May 14th 1999
Up very early to go to the New Caledonian Market. This is all antiques etc and this is where I bought the bugle. Next stop was the Tower of London where we visited the Bloody Tower, the Crown Jewels and where various members of the Royal Family lost their heads. We spent time in the chapel of the Tower of London where many famous people were buried.
Wandered around more of London till we got to St. Pauls Cathedral and had a look inside, not as impressed as I could have been. Still cannot get into Westminster Abbey.
Saturday May 15th 1999
A visit to Madame Tussauds was our aim for today and we caught a cab across London only to be confronted by a huge queue waiting outside to get in. After a long wait we eventually managed to get in but it was so crowded that it was very difficult to see many of the exhibits clearly.
The crowds outside the major tourist places indicate that London is doing very well in the industry. The afternoon was spent getting organised for our long flight home.
We only saw two computer stores and no Internet cafes on the whole trip.
Sunday May 16th 1999
On the move again, we are off home to Australia.
We filled in some time at Hyde Park; we saw the spruikers etc, mostly religious. We then
went to Piccadilly Circus, bought a few small souvenirs. We must have walked many
Kilometres around London. Late in the day the trip home started.
The long and weary flight was reasonably comfortable as both planes were half empty, this giving us plenty of room to lie down and at least try to sleep.
I would like to finish off with the passage that Dad closed his diary with in 1919.
"Thus my diary ends after relating some of the most enjoyable, interesting, and some of the saddest times of my life. One has a clear conscience though, that he, at least, tried to do a little for those at home we love better than all the things on this earth.
After nearly four years I now close this diary and enter civilian life a very much wiser man, thanks to the Army and to "Kaiser Bill and his cobbers "
Signed, Ivor Alexander Williams, Civilian (Not Army now).
I felt very much the same way, so here is my modified version of the same final page.
Thus my diary ends after relating some of the
most enjoyable, interesting, and some of the saddest times of my life.
I have shown my dedication to my Father whom I loved dearly.
After 28 days I now close this diary and re-enter my normal life a very much wiser man, thanks to Dad and to "Kaiser Bill and his cobbers".
I wonder what the world would have been like if Germany had won World War One?
An explanation of the title
"The Pilgrimage of a Shadow"
When I started to write my life story in November 1995 and after completing Dads story I realised how much of my life had been influenced by him.
Thus the Title of my life story
"In his Shadow" and so the word Shadow in the title of this book.
We made several movies called:-
|"Turkish Delight"||What we saw in Turkey|
|"The Price We Paid"||Ceremonies and Memorials in Turkey and France|
|"Hell on Earth"||The Battlefields|
|"Living History"||The Sights of London|
|"A Gallant Foe"||The Turkish Story of Gallipoli|
|"Pilgrimage of a Shadow"||The full trip as it happened|
Return to Hugh's Page
Up dated:- Sunday, May 23, 1999
ANOTHER AUSSIE AT ANZAC