Tuesday 26 April 2016

Brooweena artwork

Thanks to the children of Brooweena State School for getting involved in the Anzac Bridge project.

Here are just some of the lovely drawings and writing they produced about their war memorial bridge at Brooweena and why it is so special.

Message from the Brooweena community

At the Anzac Day service at Kaiparoro war memorial bridge, the names of the nine fallen from Brooweena were read out, and a wreath was laid for them. 

We also read out this lovely message from the Brooweena community to the people of Kaiparoro. This is what it said:  

Dear Friends of the Kaiparoro Bridge,

Today is a day on which we remember all New Zealand and Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. The Spirit of ANZAC with its qualities of courage, mateship and sacrifice continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identities.

Mateship continues with this link between our two unique Bridges in a bond that was forged on this day so long ago. We remember those who served our countries and reflect upon their selfless sacrifice and also acknowledge the losses and sacrifices of their families.

Our bridge, of wooden construction with concrete piers, though not so grand as yours, is the only privately erected War Memorial in Queensland.

It is situated 19 km south of Brooweena, a very small township in South East Queensland. It was designed by Laurence Stevens Smith then the owner of historic “ Mount Joseph Station” which is situated opposite. It was constructed by Frank Fallon along with Station hands from Mount Joseph and a number of returned servicemen from the district. It was officially opened on 21 May, 1921. The Fallen of WW1, 9 local men,  are listed on one pier and directly opposite are the names of the Returned Soldiers. It is uncanny that the number should be the same as your bridge and that both bridges were constructed with the help of the Returned.

The bridge carried traffic on the Woolooga Road for over fifty years, ceasing on 16 June 1972 with the completion of a new adjacent road. Restoration works were carried out in 2008 by the staff of the Woocoo Shire Council together with invaluable input from several local residents.

Today the bridge is cared for by the “Friends of the Bridge” in conjunction with the Fraser Coast Regional Council. Each year since 2009 on Anzac Day we hold an informal service followed by a picnic lunch. We remember our fallen and returned, children recite poetry, we tell stories in relation to our fallen, raise our flag with pride, lay wreaths to the eerie sound of bagpipes by our lone piper, and give thanks for the freedom we enjoy.

The Anzac spirit exists in each of us so therefore let us be guided by that ANZAC spirit in facing national and personal challenges ahead and let us strive to be worthy of the memory of those we honour today!

We will include the names of your fallen in our Service and remember the friendship between your country and ours and the link that has now been “bridged”. We look forward to strengthening that bond and continued correspondence in the future!

God Bless

Best Wishes

From the Brooweena  District and “Friends of the Bridge”

Monday 25 April 2016

More about Anzac Day at Kaiparoro: "it' s just such a lovely spot."

Why the Anzac Day at Kaiparoro is special:

  • It's out in the country, surrounded by beautiful farmland and green hills. I'm not used to Anzac Day services where you can see cows and hawks. 
  • You also get to see a flyover by the Vintage Aviation Collection!
  • It's a true community event. People bring their dogs. Someone had handpainted poppies onto the rocks in the field beyond the fence. 
  • It's for the wider community as well. Some people had travelled from as far as Hawkes Bay, Wanganui, Horowhenua and the Kapiti Coast.  
  • It's very personal. The roll of honour is read out for the nine names on the bridge, and after each name, family members go forward and lay wreaths for that person. Each year, one name is chosen and a relative gives a short biography of that person; this year it was Charles Harvey. 

At yesterday's service, the Deputy French Ambassador, Clarisse Gerardin, gave a very moving speech about how her family had been caught between the front lines in World War One  and eventually had to be rescued by the Red Cross and relocated to Switzerland. When they finally returned to their farm, it was to find the land almost unrecognizable. For years they worked at restoring it, but they were constantly ploughing up remnants of old shells and even mangled human bodies.

The service was also extra special this year for the new links forged between the bridge communities at Kaiparoro and Brooweena.

There's a lovely article about the bridge here. It makes the point that the Anzac memorial bridge is the country's only bridge built specifically as an Anzac memorial. It also has some wonderful family photos, including postcards sent home by Charles Harvey, some of which were read out at the Anzac Day service by a representative from his family.

Only one of the WW1 soldiers commemorated on the bridge, Arthur Braddick, left any direct descendants. His granddaughter said: "I think it's just such a lovely spot, if you stand on the bridge and look down the valley you can see the land Arthur was brought up on, and left from... it's really beautiful."

Anzac Day at Kaiparoro war memorial bridge

Some photos from a gloriously warm and sunny Anzac Day afternoon:

Hand painted stones

Hand-made poppies

Guard of Honour from 21 Squadron ATC, Masterton

Vintage Aviator Collection flyover (against a perfect blue sky)

Masterton Mayor, Lyn Patterson, reads the names of the fallen from the Bridge Creek memorial bridge
at Brooweena, Queensland

Laying the wreath for the Brooweena soldiers

Reading the message from the Brooweena community to the people of Kaiparoro

Viva Camerata, the combined choir of Rathkeale and St Matthew's in Masterton

Inspecting the wreaths after the service

Display boards about the Anzac Bridge project at the afternoon tea, Pukaha Mt Bruce

Saturday 23 April 2016

Three different Anzac Days

Two years ago I was at Gallipoli for Anzac Day with the 2014 Gallipoli Volunteers - a great bunch of Aussies and Kiwis (here are some of them!)

Last year, we went down to the dawn service held for the first time at Pukeahu war memorial park.

And this year, I've been at NZ Pacific Studio for the last two weeks with another great bunch few people, and I'm looking forward to being at Kaiparoro war memorial bridge for Anzac Day 2016.

Friday 22 April 2016

Words on memorials

"They lie dead in many lands
That we may live here in peace."
(Tinui war memorial)

"On fame's eternal camping ground 
Their silent tents are spread 
Where glory guards with solemn around 
The Bivouac of the Dead."
(Brooweena digger statue)

Brooweena War Memorial (Digger) Panel. Source: Fraser Coast Regional Council

Thursday 21 April 2016

Anzac bridges to link commemorations

Thanks to the Wairarapa Times-Age for this article on the Anzac Bridge project. 

"At the Anzac Day service here, we will read out a message from Brooweena and the names of the Broweena soldiers and they will read out a message we send to them and the names of our soldiers at their Anzac commemoration."

I've seen both these messages and I think they are both going to be very powerful and affecting tributes. I won't divulge their contents yet, but will post the text here after the Anzac Day services. 

I'm also looking forward to posting some of the wonderful artwork and poems by the children of the schools,  both here and in Queensland. 
The Anzac Memorial Bridge at Kaiparoro in Wairarapa. PHOTO/FACEBOOK
he Anzac Memorial Bridge at Kaiparoro in Wairarapa. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

Visiting ANZAC memorial bridge

Recently I came across this lovely post about a family visit this time last year to the Anzac memorial bridge. 

This family stopped at the bridge, took a moment to stand there and "reflect on its significance", looked for eels in the swimming hole underneath and explored the bush walk in the nearby W A Miller scenic reserve. A week later, they returned so their children could take part in the Anzac Day service. 

"Having the chance to visit special memorial sites such as the ANZAC Memorial bridge helps to develop an understanding for them of what they are commemorating."

"Checking out the bridge" 

Monday 18 April 2016

The Anzac Bridge Felllows

One of the (many) special things about the Anzac Bridge Fellowship is feeling that you are carrying on a tradition of previous artists' or writers' work, so here are some links to previous Fellows from the last few years:

2015: Connah Podmore's Writing to History project invited members of the community to write a postcard to a war time ancestor (not necessarily a soldier - one boy wrote a letter to a donkey!) Her own postcard was written to Alfred Falkner,designer of the bridge, because of a feeling of connection to him as a fellow maker of memorials. The postcards were collected and featured in a video work and installation shown at Pukaha Mt Bruce on Anzac Day 2015.

2014: In the Harakeke Poppy Remembrance Project, Anna Borrie created a 10m long cloak made of white rata vine and featuring 800 harakeke (flax) poppies. People from the community helped to make the cloak, which was draped over the bridge at the Anzac Day service.  (Fabulous photos of the 2014 Anzac Day service here and here.)

The artist and descendents carry the cloak onto the Bridge

2013: Lucy Jerram Moore had already worked on a collaborative exhibition called War cry /Letters home. You can see her lovely water colour of the bridge here.

Just an orange for Christmas: memories of war

Chris Daniell is on the Board of NZ Pacific Studio and she was the one who took me over to Mauriceville School (including negotiating her way past a herd of cows going for milking with much more skill that I would have managed!)

Chris has written several wonderful books including Just an orange for Christmas: stories from the Wairarapa (HarperCollins, 2013).  I found a copy on one of the many bookshelves here, and was entranced by her interviews with ordinary people who often have extraordinary stories. One of the most captivating speakers was Evie, a centenarian born in Pahiatua who told stories such as walking to school along a track that her uncle marked with hatchet marks cut into the trees so she knew which way to go, and the instruction: “You must never speak to anyone who comes onto this track Go and hide.”

Evie could remember the outbreak of the First World War and told a story about it which I’ve asked Chris if I can reproduce here:

"I’ll tell you something: I remember the outbreak of the First World War. I clearly remember my cousin Charlie going away to the war when I was eight. I used to worry about which men and which horses would get shot. Now they just bomb everything, don’t they? Charlie was only eighteen. He put his age up so he could go. Well, all one night his dogs howled and howled - they didn't just make a noise, they howled.  I said, “What are the dogs making all that noise for?” All I got told was: “We’ll know tomorrow.” I remember that very clearly: “We’ll know tomorrow.” Next day the telegram came. Charlie had been captured. His dogs knew. Once the man came and delivered the telegram, the dogs shut up. You wouldn't think, across the other side of the world, they could know. But they did.

Yes, Charlie did come back in the end. The dogs? I don’t remember how they reacted when he got back home. It sounds as if I've dreamt it all, but I haven’t.

Evie was born in 1905, so she would have been about nine at the start of World War One. Hearing someone talk about the war like this seems to bring it much closer.  

Sunday 17 April 2016

"I hope this time next year I will be back in Pig Island, it will do me..."

On Sunday, I went to see the exhibition at Aratoi, Wairarapa's Museum of Art and History (what a wonderful mix) on the Featherston Military Training Camp. These are just some of the stories from World War One that stuck in my mind:

Dr William Bey, superintendent at the nearby Greytown Hospital, cared for the soldiers who were admitted there. He died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, three months after his son had been killed in France. I think this must have been his son: William Farquharson Bey who died at Bapaume on 25 August 1918 and is one of the soldiers remembered at the memorial gates and avenue of lime trees in Greytown.

Private Norman Christopher enlisted on 5 January 1916. He entered Featherston Camp and died there under anaesthetic at the dental hospital on 23 February 1916. (Many soldiers had work done on their teeth before leaving for overseas. Perhaps this was just a routine operation.)

The Featherston memorial panel for soldiers who died at the Military Training Camp
during World War One, 

Leonard James Aplin, who joined up in 1917 and wrote letters that give a very evocative picture of a soldier's daily life:

2 December 1917, Ocean wave: "On the afternoon we left, there was someone waving out of nearly every house in Wellington."

10 February 1918, Sling Camp: "I hope this time next year I will be back in Pig Island, it will do me... "

25 October 1918,No 2 NZ General Hospital, Walton-on-Thames: "Alex Gray from East Taratahi came in last night, we had been in a London hospital. He told me old Billy Bey was killed. What a lot of Carterton boys have gone out..."

I've just realised now, looking at the name and the date, that he must have been referring to William Bey, mentioned above.

Tinui: "They lie dead in many lands that we may live here in peace"

On Saturday I went to Tinui, a little village on the road from Masterton to Castlepoint. It's a beautiful drive from Kaiparoro, and a very special place to visit, because Tinui held the world's first Anzac Day service - an astonishing piece of history for such a tiny settlement (population 27, according to the locals at the pub).

On 25 April 1916, a year after the first landings at Gallipoli, Rev Basil Ashcroft held an Anzac service at the Church of the Good Shepherd and then, with others from the local community, climbed the hill behind the village to erect a cross on the top of it. The original cross was wooden and had to be replaced in 1965, but today the Tinui cross still overlooks the village, with its church and war memorial hall.

You can read more about the Anzac connection here, together with the plans for this year's Anzac Day commemorations. Rev Ashcroft's great grandson is going to present the Anzac address - that's pretty amazing.
The view from the village: the cross is at the top of Mt Maunsell,
just past the stand of trees on the left side of the crest of the hill, 

The Church of the Good Shephered

"They lie dead in many lands that we may live here in peace"

My favourite road sign at Tinui 

The Tinui cross

I've known about the Tinui memorial cross ever since writing about it for my book on the history of Anzac Day, but I've never been there before this weekend.

Tinui (population 27) is a small village on the road from Masterton to Castlepoint. The walk up to the cross is a steep one, as the notice at the bottom warns you, but the view at the top is totally worth it. You can click here to download a pamphlet about the walk.

The Tinui cross makes up another very special part of the Wairarapa's World War One history, and the people of Tinui take its place in history seriously. Next Monday, lots of then will be heading up there for the Anzac Day dawn service.

Lots of these on the track

More great signage

View of Tinui 

Friday 15 April 2016

The Anzac Bridge project on the WW100 site

The Linking Bridges project is now listed on the WW100 site. This is a great place to explore if you want to find out the huge range of commemorative activities and projects that are being worked on all around the country.

Volunteering for Anzac Day

Recently I read about the Student Volunteer Army’s idea to make Anzac Day a day for volunteering (it's called Serve for NZ: Anzac Dayand it made me think of the work of  the Friends of ANZAC Bridge and also NZ Pacific Studio.

When the main road was rerouted over the new bridge (and just as well, when you see the great trucks thundering past today) the old bridge fell into disrepair. Perhaps this had something to with the growth of anti-war sentiment through the 1960s and the Vietnam War, when Anzac Day services were fraught or largely ignored.

And it might have stayed like that, with the bridge slowly crumbling away. You can see how it looked in this photo taken by Glennis Austin in 2005.

But in 2006, the local community did something about it. They formed the Friends of ANZAC Bridge (FOAB), got funding, held working bees and restored the bridge, and they continue to look after it today, when it has become the focus of Anzac Day activities in the area and a much loved and valued structure.

In 2015, the FOAB won the Supreme Award in the Trustpower Tararua District Community Awards for their dedication to preserving the bridge  and this year representatives of the group travelled to Dunedin for the National Finals

"I understand the bridge is unique within New Zealand. We are lucky to have places to go in our country to serve and remember the men and women who died in wartime -- and we're even luckier to have folks like the Friends to help us hold on to those places."(Trustpower community relations representative Emily Beaton)

All this is a tribute to the power of community and the energy and dedication of volunteers. Something similar could be said for the work of NZ Pacific Studio, started by Kay Flavell with the dream of creating an artists’ residency. Since 2001, about 400 people have come here from around the country and around the world to work on their projects.

The house is full  of history (with the steepest staircase you've ever seen leading up to the loft) and it has become a “house joke” that anything and everything you would or could ever want is here somewhere. It’s crammed with books, tools, utensils, artists’ equipment, furniture and even a spinning wheel and loom. 

But it is a special feeling to walk through the front door and know that everyone here is immersed in their own artistic pursuits and often struggling with the same sorts of artistic problems. Someone made the comment to me that “everyone here is working on something new. Even if they are well established in their field, they have come here with a new project in mind.” Tracy Farr wrote a lovely post here ("time was on my side") about what her time at NZ Pacific Studio meant to her.  

Today there's a working bee here, again carried out by volunteers who are giving up a sunny weekend afternoon to devote some care and attention to the house and garden. So thank you all!!