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Sunday, 25 April 2010

TOO YOUNG

The drinking age in Australia was 21

He was too young to drink, too young to live the life of a man, yet he was old enough to enlist in the Army.
It was not a chosen career, it was not something he wanted to do but he thought that he should.
There was a war in Europe and we were part of the Commonwealth.
Our soldiers were going and they needed more.
There was no conscription, it was voluntary and he volunteered

He was a boy----not tall or robust. He had never seen a gun or owned knife. He hadn't finished his trade apprenticeship but he signed up---he thought it was right--he thought that he should.

He had never been lucky, things never seemed to go his way yet he was prepared to gamble with his life.

Basic training was over and he was heading for the war---the last day in Australia, and it could be the last day he ever saw his country.
His luck did not improve when he and a mate were placed in charge of loading luggage onto the troop ship---the rest were allowed to have time with family and friends and even drink---yes, they were now soldiers and the age law did not apply to them.
A little luck turned into the luckiest day of his life.
They had finished loading the luggage and supplies, so his mate convinced him that they should have a drink for a good job done ---why not---there was two hours til departure time and they were legal---the wharf workers directed them to a local hotel and away they went.
They weren't gone that long but it was too long---departure time was an hour before what they had thought and back at the wharf they saw their ship sailing away---they were quickly reassigned and and sailed three days later.
What they didn't know til after the war was that their original ship sailed into Singapore Harbour not knowing that Singapore had fallen to the Japanese---the troops were prisoners without firing a shot in anger.

He saw action in North Africa and the Middle East and survived to be sent back home to Australia but his war was not over.
He didn't get back to his State or his family before his battalion was posted to New Guinea.
He never told me but I know he walked and crawled the Kokoda Trail, I know that he suffered badly and that he came home with mental images and memories that no one should ever have.
He never spoke of the war in terms of battle
He found no glory in anything that had happened.
He would talk of the wonderful people in Palestine and how beautiful he found the country to be---how wonderful the jungles of New Guinea smelled and how friendly the natives were, but no more.
He had no hate in him for the men he fought---they were doing no more of a job than he was.

Today is Anzac Day in Australia---a day we remember all of those who have fought to protect the liberties of this country and it's allies.

But I remember him every day---he is my hero.

I miss you dad, I love you

19 comments:

Fanny said...

He was a very lucky man who had some horrific experiences, but he had a loving son in you.

mapstew said...

It doesn't matter our age does it? Or how long they are gone.

You've made my eyes more than a little moist with this pal.

Clyde said...

Fanny
It has always bothered me that the soldiers who come home, bring baggage that they don't need or want or desreve---
They were brave to go, but how brave are they to carry that around in silence

Clyde said...

Stew

It's not a good week---a week of memories---and 18 years since my brother died
That beach is a great place to remember them.
My eyes have been moist a few times--I feel more lonely than usual

Sister Christian said...

I think it's great that he only spoke of the things worth speaking about. Everything else is the ugly side of war and there's enough carnage in the mystery of it.
Like Tupac said, "Keep yo head up".

UBERMOUTH said...

A loving tribute to your Dad ,Clyde.

Clyde said...

Sister Deb
It was amazing that a fairly simple man could see the people outside the conflict and found no need to share what no one should ever see

Clyde said...

Macy
It will never matter how long they are gone, they will always be in a heart somewhere

Clyde said...

Uber
A lovely man

fingers said...

I guess it was different back then, pre-television, before the ugliness of war was there for all to see.
It must have almost seemed like a grand adventure, apart from being a necessity for the continuation of a democratic world.
I go the ANZAC service to pay tribute to those people, from both sides, who must have believed so strongly that what they were doing was right...and I stand there and wonder what I would have done...and I thank them for making it possible that I've never had to make a decision like that...

phishez said...

He's not just a hero to you. He's a hero to all of Australia.

Clyde said...

Fingers

Yep, I think people had different priorities.
I'm not sure that I would have been the first to volunteer.
I'm guessing there was something to the adventure thought, having been a boy scout with some outback training and having spent two seasons living under two sheets of iron while fruit picking.
My greatest lessons came from his lack of animosity towards the German and Japanese people.
His greatest dislike was for those alies who claimed to have won the war ---he never wanted to visit their country in his retirement.
Yes, all rememberance days are for all who gave for a cause that they believed in

Clyde said...

Phish

He never thought of it being heroic.
He thought he did a job that needed to be done

Spiky Zora Jones said...

This is a wonderful post, Your dad would be proud of you sweetie. It's wonderfully written.

(((MWUAH))) hugs going your way sweetie. you still have wonderful memories honey.
xxx

Dutch donut girl said...

Wonderful tribute to your dad.
Thank God for heroes like your dear father.

Thank you for sharing your memories of him with us.

Clyde said...

Miss Jones
I was never sure if my father was proud of me---and that never worried me
He deserved my respect and he always got that
He desrved my love and got that
And in the end he deserved my support and he got that

Clyde said...

Donuts
It is funny that men of his era never saw what they did as heroic.
But men of a later generation seem to think that they deserve our eternal gratitude

Just telling it like it is said...

Oh my heart goes out to you...My father was a marine in Vietnam...and I hold on to those memories of strength that I have yet to come into

Clyde said...

Just
WE seem to appreciate those who represent their country at sport more than those who represent their countries by risking their lives for our freedom and the freedom of others