STORIES THE HISTORY BOOKS NEVER TOLD - WW1 CENTENARY - MARGARET TANNER
WORLD WAR 1 CENTENARY - MARGARET TANNER
As this is the
Centenary of WW1, I thought this would be appropriate.
In a few days time, it
will be April 25th. April the 25th is ANZAC Day,
commemorated in Australia and New Zealand.
On the 25th
April 1915, Australian and New Zealand Forces (later to be known as ANZACS)
Landed on the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey. It was our baptism of fire, but
no-one could have envisaged the sheer carnage, the bravery, or that this place
would be embedded in the minds of Australians and New Zealanders for a hundred
years. Without exaggeration, ANZAC Day is one of our truly sacred days. It is
said we won our nationhood on the bloody beaches of Gallipoli, where the Aegean
Sea turned red with our blood.
A few years ago my
husband and I also visited Gallipoli, a place I have always wanted to see, and I
wasn’t disappointed. ANZAC Cove was different to what I expected, much smaller.
At the Lone Pine memorial we found the name of one of my Dad’s relatives, as this
boy has no known grave. It is really
quite a sad story. He came out to Australia from England with his two older
brothers in about 1910. When the war broke out, he wanted to enlist but was
under age. His older brother refused to give his consent, so he approached his
other brother who signed the consent papers for him. A few months later he was
dead. How sad is that? It tore the family apart, the older brother blaming the
other brother for signing the consent papers which turned out to be a death
We also visited the
battlefields and cemeteries on the Western front with our son.
Our pilgrimage commenced in Amiens where we
were met by our guide Colin who runs tours of the French and Belgium
battlefields. Colin is an Englishman, who with his wife also run a B & B
situated on the battlefields at Pozieres. We stayed there for 2 nights, while
we told him what we wanted to see.He
was virtually our private guide.
It was an eerie feeling sleeping on the
battlefields. I didn’t see any ghosts but I am sure there were some restless
spirits floating around.
Colin had a wealth of knowledge regarding
the battlefields. You would have to say he was obsessed with it. Using war time
trench maps, and the information we gave him, he was able to point to within a
hundred yards or so, where my grandfather’s cousin (on my mother’s side), was
wounded, on The Somme battlefield in April 1917. Chills ran down my spine, I felt
as if a hand was gripping me from the grave.
After being wounded this soldier was picked
up by a field ambulance unit, taken to a Casualty Clearing station, and then
put on an ambulance train and finally he was admitted to a large military
hospital in Rouen where sadly he died a few days later.
We made our own way up to Rouen and found our
relative’s grave. He left behind a wife and two small children. And here is a
really sad thing, in about 1920, his little girl was killed in an accident. I mean, how could that woman bear so much? Husband killed in the
war, and her child dying a few years later?
These are the stories that the history
books never tell so they are all the more poignant in my opinion.
Margaret Tanner writes historical war time fiction as well as historical romance.
THE LOVES WE LEFT
BEHIND – SPECIAL WORLD WAR 1 CENTENARY EDITION
A three novel collection,
depicting the tragedy and triumph of three different women during World War 1.
A hundred years ago,
from the far flung corners of the British Empire,
young men rushed to fight for Mother England. They left their wives and
sweethearts behind. Many of these brave women waited in vain for their men folk
to return. How did they cope with the loss and heartache? Could they ever hope
to find happiness with another man? Three full novels, each telling a brave
young woman’s story of triumph over tragedy and adversity. Allison’s War,
Daring Masquerade and Lauren’s Dilemma.