Friday, April 25, 2014

For Anzac Day

I noted here a couple of month ago how very, very impressed I was with the Australian War Memorial, after visiting it last Christmas for the first time in perhaps 25 years.

I hadn't looked at its presence on the 'net til today though.  It looks like its loaded with good stuff.   It is probably the only government website in existence that would be popular with all Australians of all political persuasions.  (Well, not entirely sure about some Greens..)

Lets's look at a digitised official war diary at random...

Here's one talking about the return to Australia by No 16 Quota AIF in 1919.  A pretty happy diary, given they were returning.  I see that a heck of a lot of time in camp and on the ship was spent in organised sport:  a good thing I wasn't there, then.

I also see that before they left England it was Anzac Day and there is reference to a march - I wouldn't have thought it was even recognised in 1919, but there you go.  The diary entry notes:
 "ANZAC DAY as far as possible observed as a holiday for all men remaining in camp."
Apart from the relentless number of sporting competitions organised,  there are many concerts mentioned, even a "fancy dress promenade and ball" on the ship which was pronounced to be one of the most successful events of the trip.   I can't quite work out if women were involved, however.  I think there is earlier mention of nursing sisters, but I don't think many, and one would imagine they would be kept far apart...

They weren't allowed to get off at Port Said.  The reason - naughty soldiers that were there before them:
"I consider that the troops of the Wyreema should be punished by the fact of their larrikinism at Port Said being put before the Public in some tangible form such as the press pointing out the effect it had on all subsequent Australian troops being treated as social outcasts at the ports of call en route to Australia".
The trip met some very hot weather after that - so much so that the ship's chef died of heatstroke and was buried at sea.  Later, another person died of appendicitis.

They were allowed ashore at Colombo (just for the day, not overnight.)  The next morning:
"A parade and roll call this morning disclosed the somewhat surprising fact that there were none missing"
The actual arrival home is not described in much detail.  One other odd thing - there is mention of men getting "inoculation anti-influenza".  With what, I wonder?

Anyway, just one glimpse of war time life from a random diary...

1 comment:

nottrampis said...

I put this in Around the traps