The some of the cast of what Anzac Day means to them. asked
My grandfather, who I knew well, had his 19th birthday in the trenches of Gallipoli.
He was wounded twice and sent back twice. He was told he could go home after the retreat from Gallipoli but he wasn’t done. He reenlisted and served for the rest of the war on the Western Front.
At the outbreak of WWII he tried to re-enlist but at 43 he was too old and was probably considered more useful to the Kiwi war effort as a successful farmer. He was used as a drill sergeant major for the initial training of men at a camp in the Wairarapa.
I have been given his dress medals of service – he wore them every year to Anzac Day parades. Tim Carlsen Anzac Day for me is about remembrance of those who fought and suffered for freedom and for the many who never returned home.
It’s a day that continues to reveal stories of intrigue and mystery of what war was really about and how the human spirit persevered such extremities. It’s also a reminder that even today war is still an ongoing ‘‘event’’ that takes place and affects millions of people worldwide – from soldiers to civilians.
Bill McGechie, served in WWII in the RNZAF. Being in the air force made sense for him at the time – it looked glamorous, you get to fly and of course the uniform looked good.
Being completely new to flying, this fresh recruit trained for several months in New Zealand before serving abroad. He had a close call in Gisborne when his aircraft, a Harvard trainer, struck trees on an airfield boundary during a night flight. The plane was destroyed and he was seriously injured.
I can recall him showing me a piece of the parachute that he had kept since the incident in 1943 and would still manage a laugh or two as he described his brush with fate. Kevin Keys My most vivid memories of Anzac Day come from the services in Wellington where I used to play in the air force band as a music student. This meant standing on parade for long stretches as the service went on at the cenotaph and I was always admiring of the army sentries’ stillness and stoicism – especially in the pelting rain and wind of Wellington. I was definitely more fidgety than them.
It was the moments of stillness and reflection during those ceremonies that had the most meaning for me – a bubble of time to think of the heroism, the sacrifice and the incredible waste of life represented by those being remembered.
Family connection: Actor Stephen Lovatt’s grandfather celebrated his 19th birthday in the trenches of Gallipoli.