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Monday, April 26, 2010

Another year marches by

Another ANZAC day in Sydney for me. This year was more sad than previously. Four members left in Pa's Association, Z Special Unit (mentioned here ). My Pa is the handsome man holding the wreath.

My husband was again proudly with him in the march.

After the march we headed to The National Maritime Museum for lunch and a trip around the harbour in The Krait - a small fishing boat (not the submarine in the picture). Pa spent two and a half years on a boat very much like this - the The Tiger Snake.

He and his 9 (8?) mates served in Borneo, in their little junk behind Japanese lines. To be in Z you couldn't have any tattoos. They carried no dog tags. They did have suicide pills. He was not able to talk about this experiences for 40 years after the end of the war. I cannot even begin to imagine what he went through. Pa was the stoker on the Tiger Snake and spent most of his time in the engine room. I got a glimpse of the depth of emotion when he got on the Krait and looked in at the engine room (about 10 seconds after this photo).
He was overcome and got off the boat as fast as he could. He couldn't speak. He just turned to me and said - choked - 'all our mates' and then ran his thumb across his throat. I just squeezed his hand - what could I say? He recovered (with the assistance of two very healthy 'fingers' of rum). And then thanked us for being with him. He didn't go out on the boat around the harbour - my Mum and cousins did and were touched by the experience. My sister, my husband and I stayed with Pa, mostly just to be with him (but also because my sister and I suffer horrifically from seasickness - a story for another day).

I'm so honoured to have shared the ANZAC Day experience with my Pa - and my Nana - for the last 10 years. I'm proud of him and his service. I love you Pa. Thank you.


Michelle said...

I think it's pretty bloody wonderful that you get to spend Anzac Day with your Pa. What a special story he has been able to pass down through your family. Harrowing and horrific, yes, but he played such an important part in fighting an awful war.

My granddad and great uncle were soldiers, but they worked on the home base in Brisbane as they were farmers. My Opa (mum's dad) was in forced labour in Germany - building u-boats for the Nazis. It's not something he spoke of until Dad asked him straight out about it one day. I think as a proud shipbuilder, it hurt him that building something under duress could hurt so many people in turn.

RubyTwoShoes said...

Thanks for sharing this, I found it wonderfully thought provoking and moving. It can't be imagined, any of it...

Bianca said...

Thanks for sharing, and thanks to your Pa for his bravery and selflessness, what a man. I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for him and all the others. xxx