Monday, 11 November 2013

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.. the guns fell silent!

Remembrance day! Did you pause for 1 minute at 11:00 AM to remember the fallen? This morning outside our local Bendigo Bank in the middle of a fund raiser for breast cancer research.. we stood silent for that one minute.

And as usual.. I teared up. For every rembrance day at 11:00 AM I think of my late father. In 1914 in London he left school to join the army. He wanted to serve. At the barracks the recruiting officer asked him how old he was. "I am 16 sir!" he replied. Well then said the officer.. you had better come back when you are 18! In my father's own words… "So I walked around the quadrangle and came back to the same officer. Hello Sir.. I am 18 now!" He said good.. sign up here and here is your shilling. My father finished the war as a Captain.. because in his worlds.. "Everybody else got shot!"

Including his schoolmate who signed up with him.

His parents were horrified.. but soon he found himself at the Somme. On the first day of battle over 40,000 troops died. While the British were at war with the Germans, they also had problems in India with the locals wanting independence.

Before the war ended in 1918, my father found himself in Poona in India running the dispensary for the British Garrison. In his spare time on leave he headed to the foot hills of the Himalayas.. and spoke about their magic all the rest of his life.

He went to war a mere boy at 16 in 1914 and did not come home until 1921 when he was 23 years old. As his sister, my Aunt Tilly told me.. the whole family went to meet him at the railway station. We were so amazed to see this young man of the world who could now speak 3 languages. He saw some bloody awful things in his time in the Army; and always had time for former soldiers who suffered from PTSD. Although back then it was called shell shock. He always told me to be charitable and never judge the behaviour of a returned serviceman as "War does terrible things to men." I still have one of his swagger sticks not unlike this one he is carrying in this picture. He had 2 legs then too!

Ron Taylor in Poona.