ANZAC Day is an odd time for me, full of mixed emotions and muddled memories. My best friend wrote on her FaceBookpage the other day “When I was as school, many years ago, I was the only student whose dad had been a prisoner of war. Close family and friends didn’t usually know dad had been a POW. And my best mate and I were the only ones (I am 99.9% certain) whose dad’s had been to war. The joys of being born to older parents” and then later “watching the news and seeing the different ‘children’ of those who went to war reminded me how young Cath and I are. At 49/50 respectively, it is unusual that our dads were in WWII”.
Dad was 40 when I was born, Mum was 41, so my parents were much older than those of my peers, except for Sandra, whose parents were the same age. I have Dad’s wartime photo album, a diary he kept against all rules and regulations and his medals. As a kid I really understand what they meant, and he didn’t want to talk about it. As an adult, I realise he had nightmares sometimes and was claustrophobic due to his particular role in the Navy.
So why is ANZAC Day an off time for me? On the one hand I am proud of Dad and the fact that he served, but also ashamed that I don’t know more about what he did, and where he went. Glad that he came home safe, sad that it changed, and even sadder that he had to fight in the first place.
I’m with Bruce Springsteen on this one:
War – friend only to an undertaker
War has shattered many young men’s dreams
Made them disabled bitter and mean
Life is too precious to be fighting wars each day
War can’t give life it can only take it away.
These photos are from Dad’s wartime album; he did mine sweeping duty and managed to capture the moment a mine blew up, and the large ship is the HMNZS Achilles, which he served on for a time. We have a lot of old photos in the museum for people to browse through, and are happy to help you look for photos around particular subjects. Cath