The story of the ANZACs is an important chapter in our country’s history. As Australians, it’s a period in time that we have all grown up learning about, April 25th in particular being a day we observe with respect for the soldiers who; as part of the first ANZAC expedition landed on the shores of Gallipoli, with the objective of capturing it to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. After the eight month campaign ended, many Australian soldiers were redeployed and enlisted to fight campaigns on the Western Front and in the Middle East.
The enlistment statistics were astounding, with a total of 416,809 men signing up, over 60,000 of which were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner (statistics taken from the Australian War Memorial). It’s scary to think that boys as young as 14 enlisted to fight for our country’s freedom. I have cousins around that age, the thought of seeing them off to war is a sickening one. In fact, I can’t really envision it at all, as it’s one reality we don’t have to face as a free country. For that, I am thankful to all those who served.
Like many Australians, I have family members who served in both World War I and World War II. My Nan (Mum’s Mum) had three uncles serve in World War I, and my Pa’s (Mum’s Dad) father served in World War II. Lately I have been doing some research into my family’s involvement in both these wars, and I have come across a great deal on one of my Nan’s uncles, Norman Way. He was a Corporal in the 1st Australian Infantry Battalion, 12th Platoon and was killed in action on the 23rd of August 1918, at only 21 years old. We are lucky enough to still have his personal effects from the war, including his wallet with photographs and letters from his family–his sister, my Nan’s mother managed to keep everything together and passed it down to her. I have spent these past few weeks going through all these photos and letters, and photographing them. The next goal is to find out more about my Dad’s family’s involvement in the war (another instalment is therefore pending!).
You may have noticed a small hole in the top right hand corner of the wallet in the first image…we are not 100% certain that it is a bullet hole, however the hole goes right through all the images and letters as well as the back of the wallet itself.
I’m slowly making my way through Great Uncle Norman’s (or Nugget, as he was apparently referred to by his comrades) letters and diaries, we are lucky to have them as reminders of the great sacrifice he and so many others made for our country, in all wars past and present. Today is their day.
Lest We Forget.