Saturday, 15 November 2014

Remembrance Day 2014 - some thoughts

Wreaths at Bayswater RSL
This year I attended the Remembrance Day service at Bayswater RSL. As it was a school day children from Bayswater Primary School were seated on the lawn when I arrived. They were soon joined by adults who either sat on the chairs provided or stood on the footpath near Mountain Highway. During the service wreaths were laid in memory of conflicts in which Australians have served. The local members of the State Parliament and Federal Parliament also laid wreaths. The school choir sang two songs and at the end of the service each child put a poppy near the wreaths.
Talking to a friend afterwards, she said that when she had been at Bayswater earlier in the morning she noticed that she was the only person wearing a poppy. Later at Knox City the lady who served us at the chicken shop remarked that we were the first customers she had seen wearing poppies. She was wearing a poppy. She also told us that she was disappointed that there had been no observance for Remembrance Day at the shopping centre. In previous years there had always been an announcement for those who wanted to observe Remembrance Day. Now that Westfields has taken over the shopping centre, this practice has been discontinued. We had purchased our poppies outside the supermarket two weeks before. However as we shopped I saw probably only half a dozen other people wearing poppies.

The schools obviously still observe the day. A school we pass on the way to the gym had a notice on their notice board about their observance of the day. Unfortunately Remembrance had been spelt incorrectly but they immediately amended this when I sent them an email. The gym we go to uses the P A system to ask members to observe a minute of silence at 11 am on 11 November. I am sure that other organisations also do this. However generally there appears to have been less notice taken of the day by much of the population. It would be a pity if we become too busy to give up a few minutes of our time once a year to remember those who have died during wars. The lady who pushed through the people standing to sing the national anthem at the Bayswater RSL service was hopefully part of the minority and not a symbol of general apathy in the community.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Poppies in London part 2

7 August 2014
When we visited London in August we visited the Tower of London to view the display of ceramic poppies that was being assembled in the dry moat around the tower.
7 August 2014
The first poppy was planted on 17 July by Crawford Butler, the longest serving Tower of London Yeoman Warder. The installation was opened on 5 August 2014 to commemorate the beginning of World War I. The final poppy is to be placed in the moat on Remembrance Day making a total of 888,246 poppies - one poppy for each person from Britain and the Commonwealth who died during the First World War.

During the past three months the exhibition of poppies has become a focal point in London. The display was created by Paul Cummins and staged by Tom Piper. A large team of volunteers have been involved in making the poppies and assembling the display around the tower. The exhibition is entitled Blood swept lands and seas of red. A video showing how the poppies were made can be found on the Tower of London Remembers webpage. Each evening, from 11 August, at sunset the names of 180 Commonwealth soldiers were read as part of a special ceremony ending with the Last Post. The Roll of Honour archive, providing videos of each night's ceremony, can be located on the Tower of London Remembers website. At night the moat was floodlit so the poppies could still be viewed.

The dismantling of the display will begin on 12 November 2014 but parts of the display, including the weeping window and the wave, will remain until the end of November. After the exhibition ends thousands of the poppies will be part of a touring exhibition in Britain until 2018. The poppies will then be on display at the Imperial War Museum. The rest of the poppies have been sold at £25 each and will be distributed to the purchasers. The funds raised will be divided between Service welfare organisations.

Tower of London Remembers

First poppy planted in Tower of London - Royal British Legion

888,246 poppies - Designboom

Thousands of poppies to go on tour - BBC News London

The red sea - The Daily Mail 12 September 2014

Final poppy laid - BBC News London 11 November 2014

Drone view of poppies - BBC News London 

A postscript:
In 1914-1915 the Tower of London was used as a recruiting depot for the 10th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). They called themselves The Ditchers as they had joined up in the Tower moat or ditch. Arms and munitions were also stored in the Tower. The Tower of London was also used as a prison and place of execution for 11 spies arrested in Britain.

During the Second World War the dry moat was used as a vegetable garden.

Remembrance Day 2014

November 11 is Remembrance Day commemorating the end of the First World War when the armistice between the Allies and Germany came into effect at 11 am on 11 November 1918. The website - First World - contains information about the signing of a number of armistices including the one commemorated on 11 November.
A series of display windows at Nunawading Library commemorate the sacrifice made not only during the First World War but also in the Second World War and subsequent military conflicts in which Australian soldiers have been involved.
The Diggers Database listing the names of those from Whitehorse and Manningham who served during World War I is one of the local history databases that can be accessed via the Whitehorse Manningham Libraries' library catalogue.
Red poppies have become a symbol for remembrance and knitted poppies form an effective part of the display along with the poppies sold each year by the RSL.
The 5000 Poppies project encourages people to knit or crochet poppies to form part of a mass display of poppies at Federation Square on Anzac Day 2015. Doncaster Library is a collection point for hand-crafted poppies for this project.


Monday, 3 November 2014

First convoy leaves Albany

On 1 November a Commemorative Day Service and Ceremonial March was held at Albany, Western Australia, to mark the Centenary of the departure of the First Convoy in the Great War.
Photo from National Archives of Australia Facebook page
The march was one of  many events held between 31 October to 2 November.

Discovering Anzacs has a panoramic photograph showing some of the 19 ships in King George Sound. To view a larger image of the photograph, right click on the image and select View Image [Firefox Mozilla].

Thirty-six ships made up the convoy that left King George Sound on 1 November and they were joined by another two ships that left from Freemantle. The troopships consisted of merchant ships carrying troops from New Zealand, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. There were also three cruisers - HMA Ships Melbourne and Sydney and the HMS Minotaur. The two ships from Freemantle carried troops from South Australia and Western Australia. There was also a Japanese cruiser, HIJMS Ibuki.

ABC Great Southern WA contains a series of stories about the makeup of the first convoy. The names of the ships in the convoy and part of a log written by Arthur Read can be found as a pdf on this website.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mapping our Anzacs replaced

Mapping our Anzacs, a major project of National Archives Australia for many years, no longer exists but has been incorporated into a new National Archives of Australia online resource, in association with Archives New Zealand - Discovering Anzacs.
"Explore a growing selection of government records about Australians and New Zealanders in World War I and the Boer War. Enhance a profile dedicated to the wartime journey of someone who served. Uncover the personal stories of service men and women through original archival records".
Searching Discovering Anzacs is easier than searching the previous resource and you can still view the files relating to each person who enlisted.

You can also add relevant stories and photographs about servicepeople listed in the database.

If you register on the site you can fill in the blanks from the official documents on to the summary screen for people who may be part of your research.

People you are researching can be added to your Favourites List.

Documents relating to servicemen can be exported or printed.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

First convoy leaves Melbourne

In October 1914 seventeen troop ships left Port Melbourne for Albany, Western Australia. The ships were  A1 HMAT Hymettus, A2 HMAT Geelong, A3 HMAT Orvieto, A4 HMAT Pera, A5 HMAT Omrah, A9 HMAT Shropshire, A10 HMAT Karroo, A15 HMAT Star of England, A18 HMAT Wiltshire, A20 HMAT Hororata, A21 HMAT Marere, A22 HMAT Rangatira, A24 HMAT Benalla, A25 HMAT Anglo Egyption, A26 HMAT Armadale, A27 HMAT Southern and A28 HMAT Militiades. Sixteen of the ships left between 17 and 21 October.

Although the departure of the ships was kept secret family and friends still flocked to Port Melbourne to farewell the troops. The ships departed from three piers - Town Pier, New Railway Pier (Princes Pier) and Railway Pier (Station Pier). The ships carried troops, nurses, supplies, weapons and horses.

See Anzac 2014-2018 Centenary for additional information:
HMAT Orvieto embarkation

Port Melbourne - First Convoy

Troopships to move a nation

First World War Embarkation rolls - Australian War Memorial (In advanced search search for name of ship)

Troopships - Adopt a Digger project

His Majesty's Australian Transports - Desert Column (photos and information about the ships

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Battle of Britain monument

The Battle of Britain memorial was opened on 18 September 2005.
It is located on the Victoria Embankment and overlooks the Thames River. A series of bronze panels depict scenes from the Battle of Britain during the Second World War. The image above shows the impact of the German bombing of London, beneath which is one of Sir Winston Churchill's famous statements: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
The Battle of Britain Monument website contains information about the project and detailed images of the monument as seen during the day and at night. It also has a list of allied aircrew during the Battle of Britain.
Other panels show the pilots scrambling to reach their aircraft to take on the German planes.

The panels mounted both sides of two granite walls measures 25 metres and is a most impressive site. The names of the 2,937 men - pilots and ground crew from 14 countries - who served in the airforce during the Battle of Britain are also listed in panels on the monument.

Additional information about the monument:

Bravery in bronze - the Battle of Britain Monument