The Lucky Ones

My husband was a Signalman in the Australian Army for 22 years. He served as a Peacekeeper with the United Nations in East Timor but thankfully he never came under direct fire. He was lucky. My mother tells the story of how her father was unhappy because he was too young to serve in the First World War and too old for the second. With the benefit of hindsight, we know now he was lucky. This morning I talked with an elderly gentleman who was called up for National Service when he was just a lad. After training in Sydney and at Puckapunyal, his unit was ready to go to Vietnam but at the last minute their call to service was cancelled. He was one of the lucky ones too.

Today, in towns and cities across Australia and New Zealand, at Gallipoli and in France, we remembered those who weren’t so lucky as we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in Turkey. The landing on 25 April, 1915 was the beginning of eight months of battle between the Allied Forces and Turkey. More than 44 000 allied soldiers and 80 000 Turks died. Those who attended the first ANZAC Day service in 1916 thought this was the Great War, the war to end all wars. Sadly, they were wrong and now, every ANZAC Day we remember not only those first brave Australian and New Zealand soldiers but all who have served to defend our country. Freedom is not free.

We will remember them.

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21 thoughts on “The Lucky Ones

  1. It always sends a shiver down my spine when I read of all these incredibly young men dieing on foreign battlefields, and their sacrifices to fight for our freedom today. It is indeed well to remember them. Thanks for this article Carol.

    • It was my conversation with Bill that sparked this post. He said at the time, when their deployment to Vietnam was cancelled, they were all so disappointed but it didn’t take long for them to feel an enormous sense of relief. His brother served there twice and was killed in action in 1968. Such sadness.

  2. It is very sobering to think just how young some of these men were. My father was pilot in the RAF during the second world war, and luckily was spared any direct action. He started his training when he was only 21 – but I suppose that was quite old compared to some. Thanks for this post, and the very moving photos of the commemorations.

  3. The more I hear about the war(s) the more I wonder why so many young men were sacrificed in this way. Why on earth didn’t the powers that be retreat instead of sending more and more young men onto the bayonets? I shall never understand war. My youngest son is in the British Army and done tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am so grateful that he returned home each time.

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