Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ANZACs close to home

I took Dear Boy to the local library yesterday and the Council's historical centre had set up a display case outside the front doors featuring letters from local boys who'd volunteered to serve in the war.

The paper they wrote on was stamped with reminders: 'Write home first'... 'Revealing missions and troop movements will lead to your letter being mutilated or delayed'.

There were five or six letters addressed to the town clerk, all from different men but all written in almost identical copperplate with perfectly sloped and formed letters. One letter was written, with thanks for the canteen stores and well-wishes, just 15 days before he was killed.

The same day that soldier died, Winston Churchill gave this speech just across the water:

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and b~ their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few...
...The course of world history is the noblest prize of victory. We are still toiling up the hill; we have not yet reached the crest-line of it; we cannot survey the landscape or even imagine what its condition will be when that longed-for morning comes. The task which lies before us immediately is at once more practical, more simple and more stern. I hope-indeed, I pray-that we shall not be found unworthy of our victory if after toil and tribulation it is granted to us. For the rest, we have to gain the victory. That is our task.

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