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Lest we forget: In memory of New Zealand’s Anzac

April 23, 2010

It’s a small old house almost frail in appearance, wooden and weather-beaten. It sits on the rise of a gentle slope overlooking golden fields pastures, like an old shepard. In its heyday this house shone, a modest home for modest people. A palace for a newly wedded couple to live and bring up a family in. That was the plan.

Now the house is derelict. Its collapsed roof sinks further with each year, paint no longer protects the wood from harsh UV rays and broken windows invite rodents and rain to a dance on its once polished floors.

by Cate

To the unknowing this house can be easily mistaken for an abandoned farmhouse with a few old memories, but this place has never been lived in. It sits on the rise of the gentle slope untouched but not forgotten. A monument to a fallen solider who never returned from Europe, 95 years ago.

The story goes how the young man fell head over heals in love with a sweet young lady and so they got engaged. He then built a fine home for his bride to be, but before they were to wed something happened — war broke out in Europe.

Like many brave men, he signed up as part of the New Zealand Army Corps and was shipped off to Gallipoli in Turkey, along with a convoy of Australian troops, these men were sent to fight the Turks in a battle known as Gallipoli (the Dardanelles) as part of a British-French led campaign. These brave soldiers from Australia and New Zealand joined together to form the ANZACs — Australian, New Zealand Army Corps. The year was 1915.

Thinking the war wouldn’t last beyond one year, the young couple postponed their wedding until after the war, deciding to live in the  newly built house once he returned. Sadly this solider didn’t return, like many ANZACs, he fell in Gallipoli, one of the bloodiest battles ever fought during World War 1.

The impact on New Zealand was enormous. Like Australia, hundreds of men never returned: brothers, sons, uncles cousins, fathers, and hundreds of relatives mourned, vowing never to forget as people, as a nation.

New Zealand is scattered with public memorials cenotaphs, monuments, statues, public gardens and church windows dedicated to the fallen Anzacs who along with all soldiers, are remembered on April 25 — ANZAC day.

by Cate

Small towns planted avenues of poplar trees for their local heros, a betrothed lover left her new home untouched, and a gum tree was planted and left to grow in peace.

by Cate

At dawn on Sunday April 25th, trumpets will play towns and cities across New Zealand, Australia and at Gallipoli. Crowds of people, the frail and the young, will wear a red poppy and remember while wreaths will be laid in honour to those who fell at Gallipoli including the Turks, and to those who gave their lives in all wars — Boer, Crimea, Europe, Africa, Korea, Vietnam, East Timor, Bougainville.

This story of the young man and the old house has been kept alive in my family through the generations since the war. It is a link to a past I never experienced, a link that has over time, begun to grow cold. Whenever I pass the old house, I think about the loss and the fading memory of my aging relatives and try to keep this link warm through my storytelling.

In time the old house will fall down, its story will fade like the paint on the walls, but the soldier’s life will never be forgotten as long as ANZAC Day continues, Gallipoli trips continue to thrive and the sole trumpet plays the last post at dawn on April 25th.

by Cate

I shall never forget.

Caffeinated Traveller

P.S this is part of photo Friday with Delicious Baby

  1. April 23, 2010 5:53 pm

    And now this story has been passed on to countless other travelers. May that love continue to inspire others, family and stranger.

  2. April 24, 2010 12:47 am

    I’ll never forget about what the war has taught us. And everyone of us will never as well.

  3. April 24, 2010 2:09 am

    Very moving post, Cate. That house is quite a forlorn reminder. Very sad. We just returned from a trip to Flanders Fields in Belgium and learned quite a bit about WWI…WWII seems to get most of the notice in movies, books, and public monuments, while WWI seems to be overlooked…glad that isn’t the case in New Zealand.

  4. April 24, 2010 7:29 pm

    All the unsung heroes, may God bless their souls, may they rest in peace. I think there was a movie on Gallipoli starring Mel Gibson, if I’m not mistaken.

  5. April 25, 2010 4:20 pm

    Thanks everyone for you thoughtful warm comments. We all remember.

    Lucia – Flanders would have been an education, a sad one at that.

    Lora – stories like these need telling I guess, although I’m not a great storyteller.

    rainfield – likewise!

    suituapui – not sure about that movie, will have to investigate.

  6. travelforaircraft permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:09 am


    We all learn to honor sombre, historical occasions — but it’s just as important to recall the tens of thousands, if not more, of individual sacrifices that were made in the making of the history.

    I do remember seeing so many monuments to WW I in New Zealand and they were located in almost every town I went through (large or small) as well as on private lands.

    I found it humbling and impressive.

  7. April 27, 2010 6:30 am

    Cate – that photo at the top of the post really says it all. I find these small but significant memorials to those who died ever so touching. They really make me stop and appreciate how lucky I am that the country I am living in is at peace.

  8. April 27, 2010 6:52 am

    wow, an amazingly moving post. thank u for sharing!

  9. April 27, 2010 7:03 am

    On love we build. Upon deaths we remember.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us HIS-story. More the reason why we should celebrate life wherever we are today. Have a peaceful ANZAC day Cate.

  10. April 27, 2010 8:39 am

    Thanks for your all comments, I too am thankful that I can walk outside and not run for cover, sit in my home in relative peace.

    Enjoy your day.

  11. April 27, 2010 8:41 am

    Excellent post on an occasion to honor those who died in war and cherish the peace between those nations now.

  12. April 27, 2010 12:20 pm

    Incredible photos, and poignant story. Very moving – thank you for sharing.

  13. April 27, 2010 8:16 pm

    Thanks Anil and Andy for your comments, and THANK YOU Andy for the stumblelove!!

  14. April 30, 2010 6:17 pm

    That’s a touching story and I’m sure one that’s got a similar story in every town in NZ & all over the world where the allies fought- in the UK we remember on 11th November

    • May 1, 2010 5:35 pm

      Armistace Day right Heather? All sad stories on these days.


  15. June 14, 2010 8:36 pm

    If only I had a nickel for each time I came to! Great post!

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