Remembrance Day, 11 November 2010
With Remembrance Day yesterday I became extremely intrigued by war itself, something that I’ve never really thought much about before. I am 24, therefore I have had 24 Remembrance Days (obviously the fist 15 or so would not have meant much to me), but I find it extraordinary that it wasn’t until this year that this day really hit me. That it wasn’t until yesterday I really thought about what Remembrance Day was all about and when I thought about it all I wanted to do was to find out more.
I remember History classes at school talking about WWI and WWII but they never went into detail and it never really felt like it was connected to me in any way…after all they fought and lived decades before I did, so what they did couldn’t possibly be connected to me in anyway, right? WRONG!!! Yesterday during a moment of silence at 11am I thought about my friends Uncle, who he had told me about several times, and I thought about the men that would have been with him when he was fighting all those years back and it made me wonder, my friend has this connection to something greater that what we are here today….is it possible that I do too?
I asked my father about it. I knew my Grandfather had travelled hours away from his home to enlist in the Army, hoping that his mother wouldn’t find out, but as all mothers know, so did she. And so she rang around to the Army bases in the area searching for her youngest son, as she needed him to help her with the farm, which was essential to the war effort supplying food for the Army, and since her husband (my Great Grandfather) and her other sons were already off fighting. My Grandfather, from what my father says, never forgave his mother for not letting him go off and fight, to do his duty along with his father and brothers…apparently serving and doing his duty is all he wanted to do, but wasn’t able to. He was in basic training when his mother had him pulled back home to help her.
His father and brothers however went off and fought. His father came back after a while and the two of them went to Tamora and Cootamundra to cut up wood for the war effort – I am not really sure why they did this or what the Army needed the wood for, but I do intend to find out. Anwyay his brothers, Mick and Alec, however stayed to fight. Both ended up in Papua New Guinea, and Uncle Mick through circumstances unknown to us ended up working with some of the local people. Uncle Alec however ended up in a Changi Prisoner of War Camp. Eventually they both made it home and both with sealed records by the Army, which is why we know very little about their time in the war. I would like to know what they went through, what they did, but since their records are still sealed some 60+ years later I am having to rely solely on other soldiers experiences and stories. One day hopefully their records will be unsealed and I will find out about their time in the war but until then I plan to find out as much as I can about the war itself.
My father told me that once my Uncle Mick and Uncle Alec came home, that Uncle Alec had quite a few run-ins with Japanese sailors. You see they lived in Eden, a fishing town and the Japanese, some years after the war would come into port there and when they did it was, I can imagine quite a sight. My Uncle Alec, obviously from his experiences in the Changi POW camp, disliked the Japanese with a passion. Anyway on a few occasions the Japanese sailors would come into the bar where Uncle Alec and his brothers would drink and on more than a few occasions Uncle Alec started fights with the Japanese sailors, only to be joined by Uncle Mick, my Great Grandfather and my Grandfather. Eventually the local police got sick of the Fulton men starting fights with the Japanese sailors and decided that whenever the Japanese sailors would come into port they would take Uncle Alec into protective custody….for the safety of the sailors rather than Uncle Alec.
It’s interesting to learn these stories from my father, and I guess I am documenting them now so that I don’t forget what my Grandfather tried to do for his country, what he wanted to do for his country and what his brothers and father did for all of us. In some ways I feel sorry for my Grandfather, that he wasn’t able to serve like he so desperately wanted to, but I am also very thankful of my Great Grandmother and the fact that she wouldn’t let him go…after all if he had gone and not come back, my Grandfather would never have met my Grandmother, they never would have had their family and my father and in turn I would not be here.
I endeavor to learn more about WWII especially considering I have such a connection to it and I will be waiting for Uncle Mick and Uncle Alec’s records to be unsealed, something which I hope happens in my lifetime, so that I can learn about what they really did for us…for me.
So to all those who have fought, or are still fighting, who died fighting and those who so desperately wanted to do their duty but were unable to, I admire you all and I thank you all, because if it weren’t for you our lives today wouldn’t be what they are.
Lest We Forget.