Ernest Stanley Porter, the son who did not come home from the war.
Ernest Stanley Porter, the son who did not come home from the war. Photo Contributed

LETTER: Anzac Day memories from childhood to adulthood

YOUR STORY: With the arrival of the month of April every year, in Australia and New Zealand we turn our thoughts to the commemoration of Anzac Day.

So many of our free citizens plan to take this public holiday and use it in the most enjoyable way they can imagine.
Others plan to take part in the actual Anzac Day activities.

Members of the armed forces plan to clean and polish their equipment to an even better condition for the big parade. Their shoes will shine, their uniform creases will be just so. Their caps or hats will be pristine. Their weapons will be like new.

Not how the original Anzacs would have presented on the original Anzac Day on April 25, 1915 at all. On that dreadful dawn of that dreadful day at Gallipoli their uniforms would have been wet, muddy or sandy and even bloody for some of these men.

Their hats and shoes would not have been pristine and the creases in their clothes would not have been so sharp at all…and their weapon would be their most precious possession no matter what its condition. There would be no relief from this condition for eight long months.

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From old newspapers and archives, we know that April 25 was officially named Anzac Day in 1916. Ceremonies and services were held in Australia, as well as a march through London streets. A sports day in the Australian army camp in Egypt was held to mark the occasion.

I have read, in archived newspapers, that in London over 2000 Australian and New Zealand troops marched through the streets on this day. An old London newspaper headline dubbed them "the knights of Gallipoli". Marches were held all over Australia; in some marches, cars carried wounded soldiers from Gallipoli.

My first memory of an Anzac Day, is of me sitting up late at night on the eve of the big day with my grandmother as she sat making her floral wreaths to lay at the cenotaph the following day.

In those days, just after the WW11, one did not order a wreath from the chosen florist with a credit card. These mothers and widows, and other grieving relatives, made their wreaths at home, lovingly, in memory of their lost soldier or, in my grandmother's case, lost soldiers - her son, her brother and her nephews.

For those who waited while the soldiers went off to "do their bit" the war never really ended, even with the declaration of peace.

Do the families of the soldiers in Afghanistan and other theatres of war now worry any less or hope for a resolution with less enthusiasm? Do those who wait in this modern day arena grieve any less? I think not.

Modern technology today allows families who wait to Skype, email, text and twitter the news from home, almost as soon as it happens. While this may help make the separation for war service more bearable, on Anzac Day the new generations of loved ones who wait, still take their family and watch the Anzac Day parade in their home town and miss their soldier.

Submitted by Heather Matson

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