It is not until April 15th 2015 that we will commemorate the famous landing of the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) at Gallipoli on the peninsular of the same name in Turkey. However, August 5th 2014 is very much the start of the Centenary of the Commemoration of WW1 as it was on this day in 1914 that the first shot was fired in anger anywhere in the British Empire. This occurred right here in Melbourne when Australian gunners at Fort Nepean, at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay, fired across the bows of the German cargo steamer SS Pfalz as it was attempting to leave the city with the German Consul on board.
A few weeks ago I was invited by Robert Bruce, one of my fellow Vietnam Veteran colleagues, to attend a War Veterans Group Lunch at the Melbourne Cricket Club. The speaker was The Honorable Ted Bailieu – previous Premier of Victoria and the Chairman of the Victorian Anzac Commemorative Committee. He spoke about the various commemoration activities and the importance of communicating the stories of soldiers of WW1 so that they were known and understood by as many people in the community as possible.
My grandfather, Walter Edgar Wilson fought with the 57th Battalion in France, Belgium and at the Somme. He was wounded twice and returned to Australia after the war concluded in 1919. I have researched a good deal about his history and experiences at war.
The Returned Service Associations and the Victorian Cemetery Trusts have combined to issue a small poppy tile that can be fixed to the headstone of soldiers of the Great War who returned home and died later. I have ordered one for my grandfather’s grave and members of our family are meeting at the Box Hill Cemertery where he is buried on September 28th at 11.30 am to attach it to his headstone.
I spent some time at the Box Hill cemetery at the weekend to find his grave – the essential first step. It took some time as the electronic map on the cemetery website is rather poor and does not load very well. Eventually we found it and I was pleased to see that the grave is in quite good condition. It was all interesting to see many other WW1 veteran’s graves in various other parts of the cemetery and I assume that this says something about the time that the cemetery was opened and began operating.
I am looking forward to seeing some of my family who I have not seen for a long time.