Sunday, April 25, 2010

ANZAC Day, 2010

Today, ANZAC Day in New Zealand and Australia, we remember our soldiers who died in War. The fathers of many of my generation fought in WW2: my father was part of a Railway Operating Company in the Middle East. His generation never spoke of the horrors that the war brought. And in WW1, a huge swathe of young men from the colonies lost their lives overseas, never to return to those who loved them back home. In 1998 I visited northern France and found the graves of two great-uncles who were buried there in WW1. It was my sad privilege to pay my respects to them at their graves in France.This morning I woke early and went to the Dawn Service in the Square here in Palmerston North. This city is home to many in the New Zealand Armed Forces today, with Ohakea Airforce Base and Linton Army Camp both nearby. Our army and air force are involved in peace-keeping duties in many places, and it isn't uncommon for children at local schools to have a parent away for months, in places like East Timor. Happily, they nearly always return home safely.
Families visiting the Palmerston North War Memorial
to see the wreaths laid in the two ANZAC Day services

The dawn parade was quiet and dignified. There was a little drizzle at times, but mostly it stayed dry. A helicopter from Ohakea passed over the stilled crowd at 6am. As the service proceeded, the birds were beginning their daily chorus in nearby trees, and the sky showed a tinge of pink as it lightened for the new day.
Unfortunately, this was to be a specially sad remembrance day here in New Zealand. Three young airmen in a helicopter from Ohakea, bound for the ANZAC service in Wellington, were killed when their helicopter crashed into a ravine.

Lest we forget.
Sunset at home, Anzac Day 2010


  1. Lovely post. Sad about the helicopter occupants. It was lead story here on the radio news. I could look it up, but would you care to elaborate on what the Railway Operating Company did in the Middle East?

  2. Rail transport was pretty crucial for transporting stuff around. They maintained the lines etc to keep things running- not sure if they built lines as well. (I think they did but would have to find my books!) Could be dangerous as they were targets for bombers. My father worked in the railways in NZ before enlisting.
    It was very sad about the helicopter guys. Our helicopter flew over us at 6am exactly, and my thoughts at the time were 'military precision'. Not always, sadly.

  3. Oh there were a few Railways Operating Companies.... but my father was in more than one so I never listed a number.

  4. I had a relative in the battle of Bersheeba. Tibby Cotter. He was shot by a Turk who had surrendered. He was also a great cricketer