There was a thread about ANZAC day in the pit, but it didn’t seem right to say what I wanted there.
For the first time in many years my grandpa didn’t march in the ANZAC day parade. He is old, his memory is almost gone, and his war buddies have all died. So he stayed home. I know it broke his heart, so I say this for him.
ANZAC day is a time to remember those who didn’t come back, and to thank those who did. I want to tell you about the 2 heroes who I remember today. This may be of no interest to anyone else, but sometimes, the important thing is to say the thing that needs to be said, even if no one listens.
The first one, I never met. H. G. Watson. He is my great grandfather and he was one of the original ANZACs. On April 25, 1915, he landed at Galipoli, in an event that is legendary in Australia and New Zealand. He wrote a diary of his time in Galipoli - I have tried to read it many times. He was a soft and gentle young man, who saw countless friends die. And yet, when he was wounded at Galipoli, he refused to go home when they tried to send him, instead, he recovered and fought in France. Even when he was wounded there, he refused to return home, joining 4 Squadron AFC and becoming the most successful New Zealand pilot in the AFC, and fourth most successful overall. He came back a chnaged man. He married and had three daughters, one of whom is my grandmother.
The second hero is my grandpa. He is listed in no history book, not even any web pages. He put his age up in order to enlist. He flew with 547 Squadron of the RAF out of Cornwall, in a Liberator in WWII, to this day I don’t know exactly what he did, he will not say. The only thing he will ever say is in honour of a group of Canadians, whos names I will never know. They befriended this 17 year old boy who was far from home. To hear him speak, they were heroes. To those unknown Canadians, I thank you, not only for what you did for my grandpa, but also for your contribution to my freedom.
These two men risked everything in wars they knew nothing of. For countries that were not their own. They went as far from home as it is possible to go, risked everything with no thought for themselves. All because friends of Australia and New Zealand asked for our help.
So to Herbert and Max, thank you. Thank you for the sacrifice you made. Thank you for the freedom that I enjoy. Thank you for coming home, and ensuring that I didn’t forget, and for being my heroes.
To all the other ANZACs. Thank you. To the mothers who didn’t get their sons back. Thank you.
Lest we forget.