It’s that time of year again only worse than usual this time: Anzac Day approaches and it’s the centenary version. I don’t involve myself in matters relating to Anzac, as it’s such a tricky, emotional subject that has become tightly entwined, rightly or wrongly, with ideas of national identity. I can’t agree with the nationalistic fervour, so I find myself out of sympathy and out of step with many of my fellow Aussies. Because there is little to be gained by haranguing those who don’t want to hear, and because the actual campaign was a very long time ago and anybody who wants facts can access them easily and without my input, I find it better to say nothing.
I note only, as I have done previously, that in our particular household, the Gallipoli campaign – in which none of my direct ancestors was involved – and none of my indirect ones that I know of; and certainly none of Dr B’s – is a minor consideration by comparison with the campaigns that Dr B’s grandfathers were waging: his maternal grandfather as an Austro-Hungarian cavalryman fighting for Emperor Franz Josef against the invading Italians, amongst whose infantrymen was his paternal grandfather, trying to regain some of the Italian homeland. That is personal.
YoungB’s somewhat spine-chilling photo is not from an allied war memorial in France or Germany, or for that matter Gallipoli, but near Dr B’s hometown of Gorizia and in the general region where those warring grandfathers fought each other. Both survived, though neither particularly well, and the shadows of that warfare have been long indeed; as, I agree, they would have been for those involved in the Gallipoli campaign or any armed conflict throughout history. Let me stress that I am not in any way denigrating the personal sacrifices made by soldiers doing what they firmly believed was the right thing.
My avoidance technique this year? I’m fighting my own battle, carrying out some surgery on a knitted beanie that requires lengthening and tightening.
PS: I specify Gianluca D. Pompili to distinguish YoungB from another Gianluca Pompili whose Antarctic photos you might encounter here and there.