Kandos and Rylstone History P.15
Remembering Two Uncles
Jack Ferguson remembers two uncles who fought in WWI:
When I went to school, World War I was called The great War. When the 1939-45 conflict started, the name was changed for obvious reasons. We hold ANZAC Day in remembrance of the men and women who gave their lives in service for their country in all theatres of war since 1914.
I sometimes think it is a pity that when speakers give a talk on ANZAC Day, they always seem to highlight Gallipoli. ANZAC stands for Australia & New Zealand Army Corp, but they fought in many other theatres of war, such as Belgium, France and Rabaul, New Guinea.
Gallipoli was perhaps the greatest error ever made in a war. The chances of success were nil. No one was a winner. The Gallipoli landing was on a narrow beach below high hills. The Turks were camped on the top and were well established. They had their guns ready before our troops arrived. There is a painting of the landing at the beach that shows many men died before they even got to the shore.
More people were killed in WWI than in WWII. In an attack on the Somme in 1916, the British troops lost 60,000 troops in one day and nearly 500,000 in the whole campaign. Many of our troops returned home in terrible health conditions. The enemy used gas, particularly Mustard Gas that ate into the lining of the lungs. These men were very sick people who had no hope of recovery and many passed away very young.
I will now try to explain some of the symbolism of ANZAC Day:
The Dawn Service:
After the war a minister of religion based in Albany in WA decided to hold a dawn service there because it was the last piece of land that the troops saw when sailing away to war. The idea has now become an Australian custom. Rylstone and Kandos hold dawn services.
The Bugle Call:
In earlier times when men were fighting at war, they used bows and arrows and spears. Of courser these were useless after dark, so they stopped fighting. To signal to the enemy that the fighting was over for the day, they played a tune on the bugles that we now call The Last Post. Next morning to start the battle again, another bugle call was sounded and that tune was Reveille. As a soldier’s coffin is being lowered in the grave we play The Last Post and people bow their heads in silence for two minutes. I believe the Reveille was to represent the release of his soul, (or the awakening of his soul to eternity).
Another indication of the stop and start again of the ancient war was the flag. In the morning the flag was raised and the war began, at sunset the flag was lowered indicating the fighting had ceased for the day. In the Navy we still have ‘colours’ as they call it in the morning and evening. It is considered a disgrace to fly the flag after sundown.
The verse used on ANZAC Day was from a poem called For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon.
They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
The whole poem:
For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
331,780 troops took to the field
152,171 were wounded
Australia had the highest casualty rate 64.8 per thousand.
New Zealand had 58.6 per thousand.
Canada had 47.1 per thousand.
Britain had 49.7 per thousand.