Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The One Day

Today is ANZAC Day, the National Day of Remembrance both here in Australia, and in New Zealand. It's the one day that both countries pause, jointly, to remember particularly the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, Turkey, on 25th April, 1915, during World War One, and more generally, the sacrifice,and ultimate futility and horror of war.

At a more personal level, for most Australians, it's the one day they specifically focus their thoughts and memories on family members, or friends perhaps, who have served their country in times of international conflict.

Here is Frank John Chappell, serial no. 16181.
He's my grandfather, my mother's father, though I never knew him, as he'd died before I was born. He enlisted in the 1st Division AIF, 2nd Field Company Engineers, in October, 1916. He was a sapper, an engineer who built tunnels and trenches, and arrived as a reinforcement in France, in April,1917. He took part in the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt, which was successful in capturing German lines, and then the 3rd Battle of Ypres.This battle is possibly more well-known by a chilling single word .....Passchendaele, a small Belgian village whose name became synonymous with death, torrential rain and stinking mud.
In this photo, soldiers of the Australian 1st Div. negotiate duck-boards near Passchendaele.

Frank Chappell then went on to participate in the battle around Menin Road and then finally the battle at Amiens.

From a population of 5 million people, 300,000 men enlisted during WW1, over 60,000 were killed and another 156,00 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. Frank Chappell returned to Australia in 1919, but continued to experience poor health as a result of gas attacks in 1917 and died in 1945.



Anne said...

What a very moving post this is. The photos make the words in the poem so much stronger too.

Sally said...

Lovely Anzac Day post.

You would absolutely love the Anzac Day commemorations in France - the afternoon is at Bullecourt.

Helen said...

I think I'll have to introduce my cousin to your site as I'm sure she'd enjoy it as much as I do. I know she's love the beautiful poem and photo of your grandfather.