Monday, April 26, 2010

Post Anzac

1) It is a pity Anzac Day was marred by the tragic deaths of three young air force men in their helicopter crash. This morning’s paper raised a thought I’d had yesterday.Why were they flying over misty hilly country when it was clear over the Tasman Sea?

2) I had a stumble yesterday which resulted in my having to go the doctor this morning. In stopping my fall I grazed a considerable amount of skin off my right forearm. My skin is now paper-thin and tears easily. Life keeps getting harder.

3a) Last evening Paul and Lesley came to dinner. We watched a documentary on Maori TV, the Swoop of the Cormorant. The title arises from the battle formation of the Maniapoto tribe. In the early 19th century Mata and Hori Hetet farmed at Otrohanga. They had forty grandchildren and great grandchildren who fought in the two World Wars.

3b) Some were killed. Some were maimed. Many came back. All bore some scars. Their descendant’s interviews formed the basis of the documentary. There were many sad tales but also recollections of camaraderie and bravery. It was a moving hour and a half.

3c) One descendant became an airman – bomb aimer in the flights over Germany. Not many of his contemporaries survived. I find it hard to conceive lying at the bottom of a plane, kept warm by electric clothing, watching flak coming up at you. What courage?

3d) The daughter of one veteran told of his disillusionment on his return home. He’d fought gallantly and married an English girl. Maori did not receive war pensions. The argument was that they had their land.

4) Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals are full of tales of wounded veterans from the Napoleonic wars trudging past begging for scraps. Elizabeth’s armada wounded sailors were reduced to penury. It’s been the lot of the soldier and sailor down the ages. In America there are still tales of ill-treatment of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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