Hello everyone! It's again been a little while since I blogged and that would be because I had another baby! Yes baby number 4 arrived Valentines Day and our world has of course happily been turned upside down as we traverse the world of being parents to 4 children.
I unfortunately wasn't able to march with the 2/29th Battalion this year in the ANZAC Day parade but my thoughts were with them today as they made the journey to the shrine. It certainly was a beautiful day for it.
Since we have had the baby I decided it best to stay closer to home and attended our local dawn service here in Pakenham. My older children have since joined scouts and guides and so I proudly watched on this morning as they assisted their troupe in laying wreathes on the cenotaph. I was even more impressed that an 8 and 6 year old had the fortitude to wake up at 5am!!
But seriously I think its extremely important that the young people have a complete understanding of what ANZAC Day means and that they also see the importance that other people in the community place on the solemnity of the occassion. I was also happy to see such a large cross section of the community out so early this morning, young and old.
A big thank you to Akela and Wattle the leaders for my children who took the time as volunteers to educate my children before today and guide them in the occassion of this mornings ceremony. It's truly appreciated!
May we always remember their supreme sacrifice!
Once again I have been distracted from my path of researching my family military history and the time has just flown by! Can you believe that it is almost time to start writing Christmas cards already?
The last few months have seen me very busy domestically. Baby number 3 just turned 1 (where did that year go?) and we are expecting baby number 4 in February!! Yes, I do like to keep busy!
We also took the children away on a trip to the US to see Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was a welcome escape into a childlike state for a few weeks but sadly it is back to reality. So I have been well and truly off the beaten track as far as military history research in concerned. In fact my research work prior to the holiday was doing some research for people who work in health. I truly am a jack of all trades!
Time to get back to work though ... and hope those Christmas cards don't distract me too much
Well what a busy time it has been! I haven't had a chance to blog as often as I would have liked due to research commitments and family fun ... didn't the school holidays fly?? I have been able to slip in some reading however, in particular two books written by Gilbert Mant. These books were quite a find and once I found the first on Ebay the lovely lady who sold it to me found Mr Mants second book.
Gilbert Mant was a journalist serving with the AIF and he spent most of the Second World War as a Reuters war correspondent. He also was an eyewitness to the unsuccessful campaign of Malaya. His first book which my copy was published in 1953 was called "Grim Glory". The forward is written by Gordon Bennett.
The second book that I am reading now is called "Massacre at Parit Sulong" and is basically a retelling of Luitenant Ben Hackney's amazing escape from the Massacre, using his own memoirs. This account however is written after the death of Hackney, but makes for revetting reading nonetheless.
What are you reading at the moment? Please share ...
I received from mum a package of information from my Uncle Brian in Ballarat about the Uncles (thanks Uncle Brian!) and there are some photos in there. The pictures of Allan George who was in the ambulance at the Parit Sulong Bridge, does not match a photograph that the War Memorial has on file for Allan. This intrigues me as the photo still shows a strong family resemblance (infact eerily looks like my brother Anthony), but it is clearly not Allan? Who could it be?
Our theory is that it may in fact be one of the other 2 brothers who had enlisted along with Kenneth and Allan. But who? Is it Victor James the older brother who became a POW in Europe or Cecil who was the youngest but whom no one knows whatever happened to him? A mystery ....
Did you know that I am on Twitter? I'll be tweeting everytime I see something of interest during y research - for example did you know when the Japanese invaded Malaya they had fifth columnists place piles of logs near rivers so that the Japanese could easily cross with their bicycles.
What is a fifth columnist? Its a spy essentially - someone sympathetic to the invader who has been preparing ahead of time for the invaders impending arrival unbeknowest to the people about to be invaded.
Can you guess how long the Japanese had been preparing for their invasion of Singapore .....?
A week ago today I was happily meeting with members of the 2/29th Battalion Organisation who is made up of family members from the original battalion. It was a great day and an excellent experience.
I was busily reading the night before the Anzac Parade and had read about a medic called Vic Brand. Vic was the last surviving member to see my Great Uncle Allan who was injured in an ambulance waiting to be evacuated at Parit Sulong.
The Japanese were not letting the injured go through under the protection of the Red Cross unless the Australians surrendered. Allan along with the other injured in the accompanying trucks of the convoy later perished at the hands of the Japanese.
At the parade last week I was very chuffed to meet Vic's son Andrew. It really was a profound moment for me.
In front of the Battalion Flag, Ed Burton, his daughter Jacqui Toohey (in the hat) and myself. Ed's father was William "Lofty" Burton.
Ron Lovett and his son Simon and grand-daughter Katie.
Marlene and Brian Connors
Getting ready to march outside the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road.
Andrew Brand whose father was the Medic Vic Brand.
Peter King and his wife Janelle and son Brad.
Marching up toward the Shrine.
What an absolute privilege it was to march with the descendants of the 2/29th Battalion in yesterday's Melbourne Anzac Day Parade.
The weather was wet on and off but not overly cold. Even if it was cold I would not have noticed as I was greeted with such warmth by many of the organisations 'key personnel', direct descendants of those who fought off the Japanese in Malaysia prior to the fall of Singapore.
I also met an author who has written and has extensive knowledge on the topic, Mr John Lack. His book is "No Lost Battalion: An oral History of the 2/29th Battalion AIF" published by Slouch Hat Publications 2005. Please look out for it.
There were no original diggers with us yesterday as I believe that the youngest of those left is a sprightly 89 years old, however those who were there proudly sported their black and gold Battalion pins and ties.
A particular highlight of the day was getting to spend some time with Ed Burton and his daughters Jacqui and Mandy whose father was in B Coy with my Great Uncles. What a coincidence as Jacqui and I work together!
Finally I will remember with fondness the feeling of pride that I myself felt as I ascended the steps towards the Shrine with Peter King and his family, it was as though the Battalion was smiling down on us, as just at that moment the sun came briefly out of its hiding place to illuminate those who will always remember the 2/29th!