My maternal grandfather fought and was wounded at Gallipoli. It was not his first armed conflict. 15 years earlier, he had joined a Highland unit that had been raised by his brother to fight in the South African War.
Grandfather had several sons, two of whom fought in WW2 and were awarded the MC. He also had some nephews who distinguished themselves. One became a notable commando who was involved in numerous military excursions, including the disastrous Dieppe Raid, the D-Day landings, at which he was piped ashore, and the capture of Pegasus Bridge. Churchill said of him, ‘the handsomest man who ever cut a throat’. Another nephew, also my mother’s cousin, founded the SAS. My own father was in the SOE and was parachuted into Albania, so that side of the family did not do too badly and that is without mentioning the fact that his grandfather fought in the Peninsular War and was wounded at Quatre Bras, shortly before Waterloo. There were other brave men from countless other families, from around the world, especially so from Australia, New Zealand and other colonies. There was a better generation of women in those days as well; one whose members sacrificed their own wellbeing for the good of the nation.
All this is not to say that I am an advocate of war. I am not. What I am saying is that the men of past generations appear to have considerably more courage and moral rectitude than the current lot who seem to be terrified of a disease that poses minimal threat. Those men took huge risks and were prepared to sacrifice their lives to protect their freedoms and the freedoms of their kinfolk. This generation is prepared to sacrifice its freedoms to protect their lives from a disease that has almost no chance of killing them.
I think the real ANZACs along with my ancestors, would be truly horrified by the craven behaviour of their descendants and those who now lead them. For this generation to celebrate their heroics, is an insult to their memory.
As for that wretched New Zealand woman….
9 thoughts on “ANZAC Day. What would that generation think of this?”
I don’t dislike Scott Morrison. By most accounts, he’s a genuinely pleasant and well-intentioned person. The problem is that he, like so many soft, centre-right political leaders, doesn’t know how to fight the contemporary left. This isn’t the world of twenty years ago. The Australian left under leaders like Latham and Beazly were very, very different. They were of the left, but they were more pragmatic. Howard, at the top of his powers, was a formidable leader. The ALP didn’t always win, but they weren’t hostile to outer-suburban and provincial Australia, either. A good many ALP MPs were, in fact, from the outer suburbs and there were some from the provinces. It isn’t that the ALP are winning that many battles of ideas, either. Since 1996, The ALP really only “won” a single election: 2007. Arguments can be had as to whether the ALP won that election on their own merits or if Howard, at that point well past his prime, should have simply stood down. In any case, the ALP won many provincial seats. There needed to be a change of government and there was one. In 2010, they barely eked out a minority government. In 2013, they imploded. Arguably, they would have fared poorly in 2016 if Turnbull hadn’t been PM. If anyone is a media creation it’s Turnbull. Nobody likes him. He was an awful opposition leader and an even worse PM.
Since then, the ALP have made so many bad decisions that they arguably shouldn’t have a shot at power. Like so many other centre-left parties, they’ve been torn as to which path they should take. They’re under pressure from the Greens in the inner-cities and have increasingly come under pressure from the Liberals in the outer suburbs and regions. (The Nationals should be doing better in the provinces, but they’ve really lost the plot in recent years. Michael McCormack has been an extremely weak leader on the federal level. The Nationals have also been struggling at the state level. In New South Wales, they’ve moved so far to the left that there’s not always much difference between them and the Greens) But Morrison has thrown them a lifeline. He’s buckled to inner-suburban Liberals on a number of issues, especially the climate cult. It’s the Matt Kean effect. Trendy inner-suburban Liberals have almost no concept of life in the outer suburbs or provinces, yet there’s no way that any Coalition government can be formed without the backing of the outer suburbs and provinces — those are the Coalition heartlands. One reason why the Coalition won in 2019 was because of regional mining seats changing hands, especially in Queensland. If Morrison isn’t offering them a clear alternative and security, what’s the point of regional Queensland voting LNP? The Australian left aren’t really doing all that well on the federal level and they haven’t been, but they’ve learnt the toxic politics of the American left. The identity politics, the politics of personal destruction, etc… There’s not much audience for their views more than 10 KM from the CBDs of the state capitals, but they’ve learnt how to scream loudly and dominate media and social media. ScoMo isn’t really pushing back against them all that much and he’s buckling to a number of their demands.
As usual, my position vis-a-vis the koof falls somewhere in the middle. It has a fatality rate broadly in line with a more aggressive strain of influenza and other coronaviruses that cause influenza-like symptoms. It is, however, vastly more infectious. A bad ‘flu year can bring medical systems to their knees. I remember the 2016-’17 season in the UK. People were dying in hospital corridors. Hospitals rarely operate with much spare capacity to begin with. It’s too expensive. I can’t argue that hospitals and medical systems should be 100% prepared for 100% of potential issues. That is not feasible. I would, however, argue that running medical systems with skeleton crews and on a shoe-string budge is begging for trouble. I rather suspect that a good deal of official reaction in countries like Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, the UK, Germany and Poland has been to obfuscate just how poorly prepared medical systems are. In the mid-to-long-term, the lock-ups will cause more harm than good. Even the WHO, compromised as it is, was correct in pointing out that lock-ups should not be used as they have been as the negative consequences outweigh the positive. The United States, Brazil and India have large populations. The smallest of them, Brazil, has over 210 million people. If their numbers look high, it’s because their populations are large. I’m also wary when other causes of death magically went down to compensate for koof-related deaths. For example, there was a Texas Congressman who passed away earlier this year. Officially, it was because of the koof. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2018. George Floyd was officially counted as a koof death because he tested positive post-mortem. People who were killed in car accidents, in motorcycle accidents, people who killed themselves, people who had had a long history of strokes and heart attacks were listed as koof deaths. PCR tests, the so-called “gold standard”, are hyper-sensitive and very often lead to false positives. So while I understand that certain restrictions and alterations were and are necessary they could have been better calibrated. Texas has not done badly since all restrictions were lifted. South Dakota which never had any restrictions was never overwhelmed. Sweden has outperformed the lock-up Mafia: Hungary, Czechia, Spain, France, the UK, Italy, etc. by a country mile. I’ll fly to Sweden next month. The Swedes I’ve spoken to are far better-balanced and much less scarred than people in Germany or Italy where societies are on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Excuse me Sipu if I don’t think that your family’s experience of previous wars is particularly relevant to the millions of men that they led into the hell of war. None of them were acquainted with Churchill – or any one of his status.
They were drafted into the armed forces, and used as fodder. No one piped them on arrival or departure. In WW1, those who broke under the strain were denounced as cowards – and shot. And in both WW1 and 2 they were discarded when they returned home, especially if they returned home damaged.
You are clearly unaware that many 1914-18 soldiers’ records in the UK National Archives were destroyed so that the full extent of the casualties can never be known. Yes, that destruction has since been put down to ‘other causes’ – but I worked there when that was well known and attested.
Churchill might have done well had he walked along the Embankment, as I did as a four year old, and told the many ex-soldiers trying to eke out some sort of livelihood by being pavement artists how well they had done. Did he? No he did not – nor, as far as I know, did any of the upper military. I cried when it rained and their chalk drawings were washed away. Where was Churchill or the Commanders then?
The men, and women, of that generation were not necessarily brave – they were certainly less well-educated than the present generation, and they were certainly full of enthusiasm for what they saw as ‘their duty’ and an adventure. And there was social pressure to ‘Go and do your bit’.
I watch the recruitment adverts for the armed forces here – and they are still promoting the same rubbish: ‘Join up, learn a trade, have an adventure, and travel the world’. Nowhere do they mention that they will learn to kill or do they hint that they might be killed. I am delighted that many of the younger generation don’t fall for it. Especially since, all too often, they face prosecution for what doing what they have been trained to do. They are no less brave – just better informed.
The death-rate for Covid-19 might not be that high – but it is high even in those countries with an adequate medical system. We only have to look at India now where the medical system has broken down to have some insight into how it might be if no efforts had been made to contain it.
The present situation regarding the restrictions of certain ‘liberties’ is NOT cowardice. It is, in fact, an expression of being willing to put the ‘Good of the Many’ above the desires of the individual.
I’m very grateful that the pretty severe limitations on my ‘freedoms’ established at the beginning of this pandemic have allowed me to live a pretty normal life for a long time hereafter – courtesy of those who, like me, agreed to relinquish our personal freedoms for the ‘Good’ of others. That is true ‘service’.
I am as p**d off as the next person that my freedom to travel abroad is still curtailed – but where, in all honesty, would I go?
In your analysis of Australian politics you have left out one vital point… and that’s an Ozzie saying which is giving people ‘A Fair Go’. And it applies to many things:
In around 1911, the Cost of Living Index included the price of a visit to the cinema – a small point maybe but indicative of the fact that ‘leisure’ activities were sufficiently important to be included amongst essential items.
When I came here everyone had ‘leave loading’ an additional 17% of one’s wages for holiday pay – in recognition that one needed more money whilst on vacation. Moreover, every job was ‘classified’ with a set minimum wage. I got a huge increase in my salary once I informed the education Department of my qualifications.
All these things have since been eroded and ‘incorporated’ into salaries. Howard lost the 2007 election quite simply because he wanted to bring in ‘individual’ wage-bargaining. That was one step too far for Ozzies who still believe in a ‘Fair Go’. Both Bearsy and I voted him OUT!
You are, of course, quite right – the ALP (like the Labour Party in the UK) are seen as Urban Champagne Charlies with little, if any, understanding of Rural Australia – and there is a lot of Rural Australia!
Boadicea: Yes, you are quite right. When Howard was talking about individual wage-bargaining, it was clear that he’d jumped the shark. There are times that politicians run on that and people are willing to accept it. If that’s the case, so be it. There are parts of the US where that’s normal — Texas, Arizona, Nevada, etc. Working conditions there aren’t necessarily bad and there are many good employers, but there are also toxic employers who have the mindset “Oh, you’ve got a fever? That’s your problem, we’re short today and if you don’t come don’t bother coming at all”. There are also some politicians who aren’t particularly bright or intellectually dextrous who come up with things like this. Howard was far from that. I quite liked Howard, but when he came up with things like that, I knew it was over and rightfully so.
There’s been a downward pressure on wages and living conditions. Australia hasn’t been exempt from that. Germany has become absolutely awful. People are paid less and less. In the past, people who would have worked entry-level jobs such as shop assistants or at bakery counters would have earned enough to pay for at least shared accommodation and their contributions to pension schemes and health cover. But for the past twenty years, no. Employers were given the option of hiring people on the “mini-job” basis which means they can earn up to 450 euro a month. They are not taxed, but their employers do not have to make any contributions to pensions or health cover. They realised that rather than having, say, 2 full time employees and 5 part time employees, they could just have the two full time employees and 8 people working on the mini-job basis to save money.
As for war… It wasn’t that popular a hundred years ago, either. Initially there was the hype and zeal that came with the hype, but as the war dragged on with no discernable progress and growing body counts, people were increasingly fed up with it. The working class were especially getting fed up with it. One reason why George V did not evacuate his cousin, Nikolai II, and his family from St Petersburg was that British society was on the brink of revolution. If he had been seen rescuing someone who was (rightfully) seen as a heavy-handed, reactionary autocrat who led his country to ruin, the UK could very likely have gone the way of Austria, Germany, Russia or later Italy and Spain. (The Second Republic, the current constitutional set-up is sui generis Spain) A lot of those I knew who went to war learnt their lessons. Those younger than us grew up in the shadow of brothers, cousins, neighbours and uncles with PTSD. They often have grandfathers or uncles who fought in Vietnam. They were exposed to three generations of people whose love of country and desire to serve was badly abused. You can, on the streets of London, Weymouth, Glasgow, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Phoenix, Austin and Atlanta find countless men who were badly used and abused by their government. Once they were no longer useful, they were thrown away. This happened to three generations. To hell with war and its mongers.
Boadicea, I am glad to have stimulated such passion! My family, as I mentioned, was just one of countless others, whose menfolk volunteered for a cause or causes as the case may be. These were men of courage, virtue and integrity. Yes there were many who were drafted against their will whose lives were taken from them. On the other hand, had they not been drafted the consequences may have been worse. Soviet Russia and Communist China did a pretty good job of killing millions of their own without the need for going to war. Who knows what may have happened if Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler had not been stopped?
In the course of my very varied career, I have encountered a range of disparate entrepreneurs who were sufficiently poorly informed as to understand why their businesses would fail. As a consequence, their businesses did not fail but succeeded way beyond the expectations of their very clever and educated accountants who had try to dissuade them of their foolish ambitions. I suspect the “Sod it, let’s do it!” approach to life is one with which you are not familiar. Sadly, that appears to be the case with a rapidly growing section of the population, especially in the West. Almost anything worth doing carries a risk of failure and even death, whether it be growing a flower or climbing Mount Everest. You might laugh at the former example, but I actually know someone who contracted septicaemia and died as a result of his gardening exploits. My point being, that if people were as well informed as you propose they should be and considered all the risks of doing anything remotely exciting, nothing would be done.
I wont bore you with details of my own life, but suffice it to say from an actuarial perspective, I should have died a long time ago as a result of my adventures. I have survived and am extremely grateful for the life I have led thus far. and if I had died, so what. People die for reasons unrelated to their risky exploits or Covid. What the world needs is a healthy dose of stoicism.
You mention India. Yes, the infection rate has grown dramatically, but the daily death rate is put at 2,800 which may seem high until you realise that 26,000 Indians die every day. The 2,800 figure assumes that you truly believe that Covid was the cause of death rather than being coincidental. But in any event, I think you are being entirely disingenuous to compare the Indian situation to that of Australia which has a population of 25 million as opposed to 1.4 billion. Less than 2%. You also have to consider population density, and GDP amongst a host of other factors.
Incidentally, did you know that George Floyd tested positive for Covid at the time of his death? Of course it does not suit the narrative to say that Covid was the cause of his death as would have been the case had he not been deified.
The problem with society is that it has become too feminised. Women are naturally far more risk averse than men, understandably so, since it is their role to nurture the young who need to be protected from creepy crawlies. But if, historically, women had held sway in society to the extent they do to day, man would never have gone into space, he would never have climbed Everest, he would never have sailed the oceans, or mounted a horse. He would never have crossed a river or caught a fish, or hunted an antelope . Goodness, he would never have learned to use fire. “Now look here Zog, if you continue to experiment with that, dangerous, hot, orange thing, my feminine sensitivities will be deeply outraged and you will gain a reputation in this commune as being a member of the patriarchy. You would not want that, would you?” Thankfully Zog had enough testosterone to give Zag the middle finger and the rest as we say, is history! Unfortunately, over the past 100 years, men have lost their bollox and have handed over power to women and the West has gone to hell. Of course, they will come to regret things as the Muslim hordes, who are less in touch with their feminine side sweep across the world and restore the gender gap to its rightful place.
Sipu, you did indeed inspire passion… and I stand by every word I said. I will maintain to my dying day that if the likes of Churchill, the military elite and their families had to stand in front of a horde of snipers they might think more carefully about where they positioned their ‘disposable’ pawns.
I know I’m coloured by my experiences: the ex-servicemen on the Embankment and studies on individual ex-soldiers.
When I came here, I got a lot of flack about Britain dragging Australia into its wars… until I learnt a bit more. The only war Australia has ever fought with conscription was in Vietnam. And then I learnt that the Vietnam Veterans were ostracised in the RSL clubs and had no memorial on Anzac Parade or anywhere else for that matter. I knew a some of those Vets. I was in Canberra on Anzac Day the year that Australia finally recognised their Vietnam Vets. They came to Canberra in their thousands to celebrate. It was, without doubt, the most emotional and moving day I have ever experienced. Grown, grisly-haired men happily crying in the streets because they were finally being recognised. It did colour the way I look at how we treat and think about war.
If we took more care of those who we (me, you and everyone else) send to fight when they return, and didn’t start prosecuting them when they come home for doing what we have trained them to do, I might be less passionate. But it is only the generals (like your family) who get the acclaim while Mr John Smith is left to fend for himself and Mrs Smith and their family who pick up the pieces.
Your comments re Soviet Russia and Communist China are irrelevant, That’s Governments against their own people. Certainly it was necessary to stop Napoleon, et al. But I look at things like the ‘Charge of the (b**dy) Light Brigade’ and read about soldiers being ‘sent over the top’ – and know that they only happened because those in charge didn’t give a damn about Mr John Smith. I have the feeling that things were somewhat better in WW2 , but ‘I could be wrong’.
Don’t misunderstand me – I am well aware of the proverb that if you want peace you must prepare for war – and agree wholeheartedly. I hope the West has not forgotten that – as it did inter bellum 1918 to 1939 – but I fear it has. I look with some horror at how China has, today, threatened Australia regarding Taiwan. I hope that the Rest of the West will support us. But, I’m not that certain that they will. And since most of their governments are ‘male dominated’ I don’t think that anyone can blame the ‘feminisation’ of society for their lack of will.
I’ve had some insults in my life but never one quite like this:
‘I suspect the “Sod it, let’s do it!” approach to life is one with which you are not familiar.’
All the female side of my family, including me, have done just that. My father’s side were the wimps who took ‘safety’ before trying anything new. Not surprising, therefore, that I come from a multi-divorced family.
Your analysis of women is quite preposterous. Some time ago I went to the Caribbean and on the dock was a statue of a negro woman – the inscription read “To the women of these islands without whom we would never have survived.” And neither would have most cultures.
I’ve always maintained if Mrs Cavewoman hadn’t been so pushy and demanded that hubby didn’t do something about their living conditions, we’d still be living in caves. You not only underestimate us – you also insult us. The ‘female of the species is (definitely) more deadly than the male.’
I’m not going to discuss our different opinions re Covid management – we must agree to differ.
Yes I was aware that Floyd was Covid-positive. I have the feeling that we probably agree about how that incident was perceived around the world.
But at least (I hope) we may discuss our differences with some decorum… and accept that there are some things on which we will never, ever agree!
The problem with Howard was that he eventually got what I call the ‘God Complex’. So many successful pollies start to believe in their own hype and think they are indispensable. In Oz, it’s called ‘drinking your own bath water’. We thought he was great – until he started to undermine the ‘Fair Go’ principle.
One of things I really loved here was the incentive to look after oneself, while still believing those who fall on hard times should be cared for. I’d describe in British terms as a Conservative with a Social Conscience. We are encouraged to make provision for ourselves without being overly penalised if we do. But that is slowly changing.
You are quite right – wages have stagnated here – and, guess what! It’s suddenly become apparent that some of our industries (most notably the agricultural mob) have been dependent on migrant workers who come here, live in appalling conditions, are paid a pittance but are more than happy to work so that they can send money home. They can no longer come in the numbers they have previously and we are threatened with tomatoes costing $50 a kilo. It’s time to rethink how our economy is run – and no bad thing.
I believe that the UK is facing similar problems – too reliant on cheap foreign labour.
Yes, I know that Britain grew tired of WW1- and that Nicholas and his family were left to their fate. because of fears that it would damage the RF’s reputation. My mother once said that at the outbreak of WW2 many people committed suicide because they couldn’t face the prospect of war. I wouldn’t be surprised.
I loved your last comment – but we do have to realise that some countries are determined on domination and it may well be that we have to resort to war. I hope not.
Boadicea, thank you for your eloquent response. It was wrong of me to tar you with the brush of wimphood. As you say, I hope that we can continue to discuss our differences with decorum.
Boadicea: Perhaps the toughest person I know is a 5’1″ retired Israeli Defence Forces commander with significant combat experience. Needless to say, she’s very much a woman. Valentina Tereshkova went to space on a solo mission in 1963. Another cosmonaut, Svetlana Savitskaya, was also an early space pioneer. I found it interesting that some would accuse women of being the ones to potentially hold back human endeavour. More often than not, women were the ones who had to toil to get things going. The person who laid the foundation for Imperial Chinese meritocracy and supported the spread of Chinese philosophy through Buddhism was Wu Zetian, China’s only reigning empress. The first novelist was Murasaki Shikibu, a court lady of Heian Japan. That Japanese and Korean became literary languages is because of women. The men summarily ignored those languages in favour of Classical Chinese, women, broadly denied access to the “classical education” of their time, developed their own indigenous languages. Elizabeth I managed to diffuse potential civil wars and set the foundation for England to become the world’s greatest power — something that Queens Mary II, Anne and Victoria all furthered. The first monarch to cede absolute power without being pressured was Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden. The first great Nordic federation, the Kalmar Union, was the brainchild of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe I. Queen Nzinga was one of the greatest diplomats and rulers of her era. Russia’s 18th century “golden age” was because of the capable rule of Catherine I Alexeyevna, Anna Iaonnovna, Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine II Alexeyevna. The American space programme wouldn’t have been able to function without the formulae developed by African-American female physicists. Men who assumed that women would be too weak and hesitant to fight learnt some harsh lessons from Olga of Kiev and Margaret Thatcher.
The arguments made about $50 tomatoes, etc. are the same ones made in the USA. The USA’s ultra-strict immigration laws enforcement under Trump didn’t lead to $25-per-pound tomatoes, but it did lead to greater mechanisation. I saw so much abuse of migrant field workers in the Central Valley. That’s an area I knew well. People in the tone suburbs of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, etc. might wring their hands in anguish but they don’t want to hear where their organic salad came from.
I understand what you mean about Australia’s precarious position vis-a-vis China. Ardern is a Chinese puppet and Trudeau gets it wrong more often than he gets it right. Some rebalancing would have been inevitable. There will be two Asian superpowers: India and China. The liberal alliance will be led by India and the United States, with the United States having to cede more influence and say to India over time as the power differential ebbs. Biden is quite probably the weakest, most ineffective US president since the 1850s. The EU run roughshod over him, the Iranians, Russians and Chinese constantly humiliate him. At the same time, he’s antagonistic to India and he has terrible relations with that country in no small part due to some of his terrible decisions as Senator that negatively impacted India. Those could be more easily forgiven, the Indians are pragmatic and forward-looking enough to let things go, were Biden to show that he has learnt anything and he hasn’t. I fear that Biden’s weakness will lead to conflict as China and Russia are more willing to force points and the US cannot be seen as being too weak. Brinkmanship is nothing new, but brinkmanship spiralling out of control and resulting in bloody conflict is also not exactly new.