Verandah Magazine’s Political Potter, Richard Jones – remembers his grandather, and the terrible after-effects of the war, and wonders if our glorification of Anzac Day serves any purpose.
My Grandpa Bombardier Barwick was buried in mud at Gallipoli, clawed his way out and ended up on the killing fields of the Somme. This giant of a man was well suited to hurling missiles at the enemy while his mates were ordered over the top, by safely ensconced generals in immaculate uniforms and glasses of cognac and cigars, to trudge through churning mud right into German machine gun fire.
Churchill thought it was a great idea to open up lines of communication with Russia to supply them with weapons, but didn’t reckon on the tenacity of the Turks. Over 40,000 allied lives later and double that for brave Turks, the catastrophe came to an end.
Imagine, 1.25% of all Australians fought at Gallipoli and over eight thousand died – for no reason at all. That’s the equivalent today of sending 275,000 young Aussies to fight in Iraq and 40,000 dying in a matter of months – and then retreating.
Life was cheap then. Our teenagers were expendable.
Today every time a professional soldier dies, the PM and Opposition Leader turn up at the televised funeral. Imagine if they had to attend five thousand funerals a month.
My grandpa, who died before I was born, aided by the demon drink, would I am sure be bemused by today’s massive commemoration – one can hardly call it a celebration- of those ghastly days one hundred years ago.
Maybe it’s now time to finally let them all lie in peace.