My memories and snapshots of Anzac Day 17



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When I think of Anzac Day, I see little vignettes:

  • My great Uncle Jack never marched on Anzac Day even though he was a Military Medal recipient; but he always listened to the march on the radio, tears running down his face.
  • Uncle Teddy had a drawer where he put every white feather he was ever given by the self-righteous who called him a coward because he was not in uniform. As the story is told, he always smiled and thanked the giver like the gentleman he was; he knew they couldn’t see his lungs were destroyed by mustard gas in the First World War.
  • Aunty Ethel who seemed to have lived a Girls Own Adventure, told wonderful stories of being in the Land Army.
  • My brother marched as a member of the school cadet corps band – they went around 5 times!
  • Leaving home in the dark to go to the Dawn Service with my friends in our late teens and staying for the march. We lived near the city so our home became the backpackers’ hotel for the night.
  • The special meaning the day took on when my nephew was serving in Afghanistan.
  • In 2000, I read The Shoehorn Sonata by John Misto and my wish to know more about women who served in all theatres of war was spiked. I read White Coolies by Betty Jefferies and now took the time to read more about these amazing brave women.
  • Listening with tears in my eyes to the Women’s Vocal Orchestra performing some pieces written by the women in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp in Belalau, immortalised by the movie Paradise Road.
  • Two further books sparked more interest, Horrie the War Dog and Bill the Bastard both by Roland Perry where I learned about the deeds of canine and equine heroes.
  • Bringing out the fold-up chairs each April 25 and finding our spot on the March route to honour the fallen and the returned.



Do you have memories like Karen of Anzac Day? What does it mean to you? Tell us below. 

Karen OBrien Hall

Karen O'Brien-Hall followed many careers in her life and loved each one! From accountancy to the hospitality industry, from managing an employment agency to Executive Assistant to the Chairman of a multi-national, when she retired Karen was in Public Relations. Whatever her career path at the time, Karen is a lifelong volunteer. Married to "the love of my life", John, her second love is community theatre where she enjoys acting and directing. Karen enjoys time in her garden and can always finds time to read, around 8 – 10 books a month. Her reviews appear on Starts at Sixty, Goodreads,The Reading Room and her own page

  1. No memories for me. I came from a very disfunctional family. I knew that my grandfather had lied about his age to go to war. I knew he was a light horseman and depending on how you look at it was one of the lucky ones to make it home. No-one seemed to talk about it. I knew my dad’s brother was a soldier. He died before I was born, but I know nothing else about him. In my teen years when I got to spend a bit more time with my grandad, I asked him about the war and his part in it. Only once he spoke to me about it and it was just a few sentences. He told me it was horrific. He told me he could never forget and he asked me not to ask him again. That day was the day I knew my grandfather was full of sadness.

  2. One of my uncles was in Changi. When I asked what was the matter with him( he was very sickly looking) nobody said much just”he was in Changi”.he wouldn’t speak very much at all.

  3. No one in my family really spoke about it. You just knew not to ask somehow, even as a child. They came home and tried to get on with life; some more successfully than others. No support for veterans until quite recently – except from each other.

  4. my family never spoke about it but I do remember sitting under the table..very quietly..listening to my father and uncle talk, both went to New Guinea and my dad was in Darwin when it was bombed. They were talking about mates that were shot in New Guinea and how their wives and children were not coping well. I was to young really to understand it..I wish I had been older I have so many questions I would have asked. My grandfather died not long after I was born and he went to war in the first world war

  5. Our family would go into town to see the March. No TV then and it wss held in the afternoon. Dad would go missing and when his unit , the 2/1 MAC, marched by there would be Dad proudly marching with his mates. He never talked of the war only of the larrakin things he and his mates got up to. He was another who lied about his age as he wanted to go with his mates. Tomorrow I will go and put flowers on his grave and tell him I love him.

  6. My granddad wouldn’t speak about the war, he was in the Second World War and my other granddad was the same and I think you will find a lot of the men and women who went to war were that way. My husbands father went to the Kokoda trail and would not speak of it.but we do remember them and pay our respects.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree Cheryl, my memories of the uncles are what I was told by other relatives because they never spoke about there experiences. I also worked with a man who was a POW in Indonesia and the only stories he told made it seem like a pleasure camp. However when Lord Montbatten was murdered, he cried in the office because his camp had been liberated by thr Mountbattens.

  7. My stepfather was involved in D day at Normandy, on the beach many were cut down, a badly injured man with no legs or arms asked him for help.For some reason I was the only one he told most likely enough time gone by, but he cried. He was a darling gentle man. My grandfather was in WW1 in Hill 60 was wounded and gassed, 11 years after the war he committed suicide, his wife Eddie and three kids adored him, he was a gentle soul too. My father WW2 he was luckier he was in New Guinea fighting the Japanese, he was fine and another lovely chap. So the day means a lot to me. They are always there in my heart. The war affects not just one the ripple affect is big.

  8. Brilliant Karen…love the humility of Great Uncle Jack, and Uncle Teddy…Teddy’s self-control was amazing.

  9. Think of my dads”older” brother, Charlie, 15 yo, took himself off to war, never came home and my Ian, a Vietnam Vet, came home a troubled man and died at 55 years of age. To them and ALL – LEST WE FORGET

  10. My grandfather didn’t march till he was in his seventies, and only then because I urged him to. I once asked him if he liked the sound of ‘The last Post.’ He just shook his head and said, ‘Not when you’ve heard it played over too many of your mates.’

  11. We lost our great Uncle Tom in the war I remember my grampie remembering him and my two uncles lived one had guts shot out and one who was a gunner and got bombed spent 3 years in hospital after war they very rarely talked about it also lost two great cousins. Xxxxxxmy brother found uncle toms grave in France and put an Aussie flag on it. I found his name in Canberra

  12. Hi Karen,
    A lovely article. It certainly brought back a few memories of my earlier ANZAC Days. We used to go to the march quite often, we used to stand near Flinders Street station, and Dad would sneak in there and join his battalion there. War injuries left him unable to march the whole way. We used to wear his medals to school for the service there, and we also took a wreath in memory of his brother who was KIA. Looking back, it was very poignant.

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