On Dangerous Ground

Over the past few days, I have been reading a book just released about Gallipoli.

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Obviously with ANZAC day just gone it is rather fitting (and no doubt the timing of the book launch on the 16th April was influenced by the significance of the 25th). It is by Professor Bruce Scates of Monash University, and it has a significant point of difference from his previous offerings……

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…….in that is a fictional story, rather than a non-fiction, scholary offering. In saying that, this is not just a bit of fictional whimsy, but has strong roots in facts. Written by someone who initmately knows the topic, the thoughts and influences of the men and women of the time, the language, the military hierarchy, the academic politics of that time and this.

While reading, it is well worth keeping in mind that you really are getting to experience the situations the people and locations as they really were through the eyes of someone who has walked the hills and land many many times while piecing together the true history of that time and place, rather than through the eyes of an author basing a story on a few photos and assumptions.

In a couple of years time, the world will be commemorating 100 years since the start of WW1, and days such as ANZAC Day are set to eclipse ones such as New Years Eve 1999-2000 as we take the opportunity to perhaps really begin healing from the collosal impact that The Great War had on the world. For Australia, the 60000 dead (not counting all the casualties that also resulted when soldiers came home with diseases from far off lands- 88000 came home sick), and 171000 wounded, POW or MIA came from a total population 1/5 the size it is today.

Bruce’s book also portrays another character, that of the historian, and the role they play both at the time of these major events, and when delving back through the flimsy threads of evidence to discover the truths that have been hidden and lost under the detritus of time.

Perhaps not your normal shed reading material (or perhaps it is!), but a story written by one of Australia’s leading historians gives voice to stories long muffled in slowly decaying boxes of historial material.

On Dangerous Ground: A Gallipoli Story by Bruce Scates.

Navy Days Memorabilia

Projects seem to take forever these days! The Navy Display Board that I started in January is still progressing….very slowly.

Found quite a bit more to include as well, and getting a bit of a layout together.

Lieutenant shoulder boards, some 50 cal cartridges, a 5.56 cartridge, (and to display to either side on a shelf, 2x 5″ cartridges and 1x 4.5″ cartridge!

The 5″ came from the ANZAC Class fridge TE KAHA, and the 4.5″ came from the twin gunned Leander Class Frigate WAIKATO.

There is also the torch I used for years, climbing over (and under) the steam pipes in the boiler and engine rooms, conducted boiler and tank inspections, and did many, many salinity tests of the water being produced by the dual evaporator water purifiers (that produced around 4 tonnes of clean water per hour).  On the other side is a valve spanner – a critical tool for opening and closing big steam valves, especially when they have become stiff.  Such a simple design, that works exceptionally well.  And in the boiler room, where it is 100F and 120dB, it can also be thrown to land on the plates (the metal floor) right next to someone who is dozing off.

Ah, the days of old before political correctness, OHS and all the other trappings of modern life wrecked the seagoing experience.

There are other things I want to display – commissioning parchment, various watchkeeping certificates etc that will be more traditionally framed.  The final item I have only just become aware of in the last month or so: turns out that I will be receiving a medal from my days in the military, which is very, very cool.

It is the New Zealand Defence Service Medal, and will definitely be in pride of place when it arrives (it will take 2-3 years, so patience is a virtue!)

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