Friday, April 25, 2014

Lest We Forget - ANZAC Day

Thought I would do a blog post on ANZAC Day and why it is important to my family.  It is important for my children to know their family even though they have never met some of them.
"Lest We Forget"

What is Anzac Day?

ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

What does ANZAC stand for?

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

Why is this day special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.
The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

My Grandfather (father's side)
Sydney Rupert Johns
Service Number: 6103
Rank: Private
Roll title: 12 Infantry Battalion - 13 to 23 Reinforcements (January-December 1916)
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
Date of embarkation: 8 August 1916
Place of embarkation: Hobart
Ship embarked on: HMAT Ballarat A70
I don't know very much about my Grandfather Johns.  I don't have a photo.  All I know is word of mouth, so I am not sure how correct it is!!  I was told that when he came back from serving in WWI, he was suffering from "shell shock."     He died in 1948.

My Grandfather (Mum's side)
James George Bricknell
I don't know much about my Grandfather Bricknell's time of service either.  I remember a photograph of him in uniform.  He seemed very young and handsome.  I have 2 little elephants that he bought back from his time overseas.

My Dad
Eric Sydney Johns

Service Number: TX10873 
Date of birth:  23 Oct 1921 
Place of birth:  ULVERSTONE TAS
Place of enlistment:  BRIGHTON TAS
Next of Kin:  JOHNS SYDNEY
Dad served during WWII.  I have his ration book and a few other items that he had during this time.
I think Dad was still in training when the war ended, so he never was sent overseas. 
My Uncle
Wilton Tasman Bricknell
Service Number: TX8415
Rank: Private
Unit: 2/40th Battalion (Infantry)
Service: Australian Army
Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
Date of death: 24 June 1944
Place of death: At sea (South West Pacific Area)
Cause of death: Presumed
Cemetery or memorial details: Singapore Memorial, Singapore
I do know a bit about Uncle Wilton's service to his country.  I will probably do a blog post about him in the future.  I have to dig out the newspaper clippings, etc., that I have.  Uncle Wilton forged his birth date and his father's signature so he could enlist.  He was a Japanese POW when the ship he was on was torpedoed by and American submarine.  He was below deck and did not survive.

TAMAHOKO MARU (Saturday, June 24, 1944)
Part of a convoy sailing towards Japan with 772 Australian, British and American prisoners of war on board. With the lights of Japan in sight, one of the ships in the convoy, exploded after being torpedoed by the US submarine USS Tang. Nearby, the Tamahoko Maru was almost blown apart and water poured in through a gaping hole in her side. On top of the main hatch cover 80 men were sleeping. Not one of them survived. As the Tamahoko (6,780 tons) settled in the water, hundreds of prisoners jumped into the sea and soon a Japanese whale-chaser appeared and started picking up survivors. The final count was that 560 POWs had died. Of the 267 Australians on board only 72 survived. Fifteen US soldiers and sailors were killed as well as thirteen merchant seamen rescued from the sunk freighter "American Leader". Next day, 212 survivors of the Tamahoko Maru were brought into the harbour at Nagasaki to spend the rest of the war in the POW camp, Fukuoka 13.

My Mum
Dorothy Madeline Bricknell
My Mum signed up for the Australian Women's Land Army.  With so many of the men away at war, there was no one to work on the farms.  My Mum was only 17, so she had to get her Dad to give his permission.  She worked on several farms all over the state of Tasmania.  Mum was very proud of her service and she received a medal which I now have.


This is just a snippet of why ANZAC Day is important to meI hope that I can share more of my family history with my children, and all who care to read it!!


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