Australian DNA in Fromelles

June 26, 2009

ltsimonfrazer290.jpgI have just finished reading the book by Patrick Lindsay which tells the story of the discovery of Australian soldiers buried in a mass grave at Fromelles. But it is more than a story of that discovery – remarkable in its own right, and poignantly achieved by a Greek born Melbourne school teacher who clearly has Australian DNA well and truly leached into him. It is also a reminder of how poorly our troops were utilised in France. After surviving Gallipoli many of who had survived that madness were killed and wounded in a feint which Haig and his staff believed would distract the Germans from the main Somme battle. Trouble was the Germans knew it was a feint and paid it scant attention – only sufficient to rebuff it. Fromelles remains today our worst military disaster. Read more

Long in the tooth Desert Rats

June 17, 2009

desertrats_reunion1.jpgI love stories of reconciliation and forgiveness. Some of the most powerful are those of soldiers imprisoned and treated in the most appalling way by the Japanese, yet travelling to Japan after the war to convey their forgiveness – in words but also in deeds. (I do too understand those who can never stomach the thought of having anything to do with any Japanese culture whatsoever). But reconciliation and forgiveness is a powerful and poignant story wherever it is set. Reconciliation of former combatants happened recently in the home of my brother (picture here refers) who has done a great job of pulling together the story of foes who once faced off at Tobruk. Their story is told somewhat in this story in the Daily Mirror, and there is a rather compelling podcast here of an interview of two of them courtesy of the BBC. And of course, here is his book.

p.s. there is a fascinating follow up BBC interview with Rudolf Schneider here. And a piece in The Independent which is an interesting read too.

Perfect Sydney Light

June 14, 2009

chris_early-morninglight290.jpgAnother shot from our early morning excursion which turned into a half day affair. There were no others out when we started but the fishermen soon appeared on the wharves, a couple of flashes went off from between drawn curtains in the hotel windows behind and five pedestrians shuffled past pretending to be enthusiastic fitness enthusiasts.  Ha, no bounce in their step at all. Circular Quay is not known for such a sedentary pace. But we sketchers and photographers sure do appreciate it. As for the chap who was supposed be writing, (the third part of this cultural triumvirate) well, he just stood around appreciating the view. It was all just too good for words. Lame excuse but I am sticking to it!

He is a bit sketchy early in the morning…

June 14, 2009

michael_sketch290.jpgHe sure was.  Just a bit after six in the morning and while Chris got the cameras working Michael started on the sketching – while keeping the hand from shaking too much in the early morning chill. The rising sun was starting to catch the Opera House and the glass of the city. But it was still dark enough to make a black and white pencil sketch entirely appropriate!

Smithy Flies Again…

June 9, 2009

peterfitzsimmons290.jpg … in vaulting stories and in our imagination as author (and former Australian Rugby rep) Peter FitzSimons regales us with anecdotes about Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, from the volume he is launching about the life and times of this Australian (and global) aviation legend.  The lunchtime crowd were mainly, well I think mainly retirees, who normally would be hiding in the newspaper section of the library. Ah, to be fair there were a large number of aviation buffs who were hanging off every word – most of them still 12 years old in their imagination. Heck, I think I was one of them. Though I groaned when one “old boy” shuffled up to Peter’s researcher and asked if she had used “this book” and thrust a blue cloth bound hardback under her nose. Looked like an early edition of Biggles I thought as I fled the crush of retirees angling for the orange juice and working themselves into line to get a volume signed.  (There never is a good sheep dog around when you need one).

While Sydney Lay Dreaming…

June 9, 2009

sydney-sunrise.jpgEach day this last week the fog has lifted off the harbour in early morning mists and the suburbs have been shrouded in rain. Seattle weather never sits well on a Sydneysider and even though we grumble at water restrictions when the dam levels drop, we do prefer our sunny days and sparkling harbour. But fog makes for great atmospherics under the bridge so we hauled out of bed at 5 o’clock and made for the harbour. Only to be greeted by a picture perfect winters day.  It was so darn good our hour of photography turned into a whole morning and we found ourselves down at the entrance to the harbour seven hours later having breakfast and lunch all rolled into one. Unusual view of Sydney Opera House – not often it is backlit by the rising sun.

Salute the Tank Driver

June 3, 2009

tiananmentank290.jpgRemembrances of events can be two edged. Was it really twenty years since Tiananmen? Hard to believe all right. Twenty years ago those of us in the various “China watchers” groups in governments around the world were starting to think that the winds of change in China were spring rather than winter zephyrs, and that the government was serious about changing its spots. Read more