HUMANITY UNDER PRESSURE OF WAR
in memory of those who sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy our freedoms.
this is personal…
I come from a long history of family military service, including myself for a brief stint (see below). For fear I forget, today, yesterday, tomorrow and on Anzac Day, I remember and honor all that served. Lest we forget. For fear none of us forget.
ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is recognized globally by Australian & New Zealand citizens on the anniversary of the landing of troops from Australia and New Zealand on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, in World War I on April 25, 1915. The bravery of all military personnel on both sides, who participated in the 260 days of the Gallipoli campaign, and the lives of those who died in all military actions, before and after, are remembered.
In the early months of 1915, World War I was raging in most of Europe, including the Ottoman empire in the geographical area that is now Turkey. Russian troops were fighting on many fronts, particularly against troops from Germany and the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires. At dawn on April 25, 1915, forces from France, Great Britain, and the British Empire, including Australia and New Zealand, landed at a number of places on the Gallipoli peninsula with an aim to open up new fronts for the Allied forces and a trade route to Russia.
In the ensuing battles, many lives were lost on both sides and the Allied forces did not succeed. The last ANZAC forces withdrew from the Gallipoli peninsula by December 20, 1915. The retreat was just about the only successful operation with very few casualties. In spite of their losses, the ANZAC servicemen and many Australians and New Zealanders saw this battle as the start of the ANZAC spirit. This is an Australasian ideal based on the “mateship” and cheerful suffering the forces showed during this campaign.
Ceremonies, parades, the wearing of red poppies, reunions of current & past military personnel, memorial services and other activities are held on ANZAC Day with a heightened sense of nationalism to solemnly remember the lives of those who participated or died in military action, particularly on the Gallipoli peninsula in World War I. Dawn prayer or church services are a particularly important aspect of ANZAC Day. These represent the comradeship that the soldiers experienced as they woke each morning to prepare for another day of military action. After the services, ‘gunfire breakfast‘ (coffee with rum in it) is often served.
The fourth stanza or verse of a well-known poem, known as The Ode, is read aloud at many ceremonies. The poem is called “For The Fallen” and was written by Laurence Binyon in 1914. It commemorates those who died and can never grow old.
For the Fallen
BY 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.
For more information visit: Anzac Day traditions from the Australian War Memorial
For a film that gives a glimpse into the ANZAC spirit, I recommend Gallipoli (1981)
Simkin Family Military History
Remembering my family
- my Great Grandfather, Henry Walter Simkin fought in WWI at Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele after enlisting in the Australia Imperial Forces (Australian Army) in 1915.
- my Grandfather, Roy Simkin enlisted in the Australia Imperial Forces (Australian Army) at age 18 (with parental consent) on July 5, 1915. He was gassed by mustard gas in WW1 on August 23, 1918 near Le Havre, France, medically evacuated to England, refused to be discharged, literally jumped return ship, and went back to the front lines in France only to be shot in the right shoulder on December 13.
- my Mother, Irene Marshall, a Royal Air Force Warrant Officer served in WWII as Assistant to Marshall of the RAF, the Lord Tedder at Whitehall, England, Malaya and Singapore and met my father while teaching him how to parachute in England. She was awarded the rare King George VI Malaya Medal for service in the Malaysian theatre of war.
- my Father, Brigadier General Maxwell Byron Simkin, CBE KStJ started Army Aviation in Australia and fought in the Middle East and South East Asia during World War II. He fought the Japanese in hand-to-hand combat in Malaya and New Guinea. He commanded both 49th and 11th Australian Squadron Air Liaison Sections, and was staff liaison officer with Headquarters Morotai Force in 1946. He served as a parachute instructor, with the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, The Royal Australian Regiment, and Commander of the 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Awarded the MBE on September 25, 1959 for military service in Malaya. He was Director of the Australian Army Aviation Corps. As Colonel, he was awarded the CBE for his service as Commander, Logistic Support Group in Vung Tau, South Vietnam, and awarded the US Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces in Vietnam. He was promoted Brigadier in 1971 and served as Chief of Staff, Northern Command, until 1973 when he was appointed Australian Army Representative and Military Attache in Washington DC and made Brigadier General. He was promoted to Knight of the Order of St. John by Her Majesty the Queen on December 8, 1994.
- my Brother, Colonel Tim Simkin was the Australian Military Adviser to the UN and served in East Timor and Iraq.
- my Sister, Mandy Jeanroy managed procurement for all Australian Defense (Army, Navy, Air Force and civilian) at the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C.
- and I too, for a brief time, was in the Australian Army Reserve forces.
lest we forget