heaving the annual big sigh

19 Apr
The view from the trenches. Photo by Gianluca D. Pompili

The view from the trenches. Photo by Gianluca D. Pompili

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.


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2 responses to “heaving the annual big sigh

  1. jennyrecorder

    April 20, 2015 at 22:02

    I too have no connection to the Gallipoli campaign apart from being a proud Aussie. But my maternal Grandfather fought on the Somme and died relatively young as a result of being gassed twice and my Father grew up in fear and hunger as a child in an occupied country. I used to love ANZAC Day as a child, the marches and especially the pipe bands were so exciting. Nowadays I cannot go to a march or service as I find myself sobbing loudly and publicly, thinking of the dreadful waste of life that goes into a war (of any description).

    • Felicity from Down Under

      April 22, 2015 at 19:35

      The waste of life is always dreadful, you’re quite right. I had forbears involved in other WW1 battles and, like you, it brings me to the verge of tears thinking of how young and vulnerable they were.


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