Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November poppies

It may be November but there are still a few poppies flowering along the edges of fields nearby. They are rather bedraggled but probably no more so than those that grew up and bloomed in the decimated and muddy battle fields of the First World War.  
November is the month we remember those members of the Commonwealth's Armed Forces who have fallen as a result of war, terrorist attack and in times of turmoil and violent struggle over the last almost 100 years.  My post of 12 May shows a photo of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne (http://www.shrine.org.au).  It is an awesome edifice and a memorial to the men and women of the state of Victoria, who served Australia in both armed conflict and peacekeeping operations throughout their nation's history.  
The entry courtyard to the visitor centre, underneath the Shrine has the words 'Lest We Forget' etched into one wall.  The form of the courtyard was inspired by a bomb crater.  
In one corner of the 'bomb crater' some poppies have sprung up.  
As you enter the Visitor Centre there is a display of 4,000 service medals,
and inside a mass of written information as well as photographs, newsreel and artefacts to record Australia's history of service and sacrifice in times of war and peace.

In the days following the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 rescuers recovered some 300 men from the 5th Australian Division, lying wounded in no-man's-land.  As one soldier carried a wounded companion from the field he heard a call for help "Don't forget me, cobber".  In one night at Fromelles the Australian casualties were equivalent to those they lost in the Boer, Korean and Vietnam wars combined.  This bronze, Cobbers, was sculptured by Peter Corlett.  You can really feel the dead weight of the wounded soldier as he was carried to safety by his fellow soldier.  The image, all it conveys and stands for, stays with you for a long time.
The Australian poppy of remembrance is delicate and more like the real thing than ours!  I've got mine and I will be wearing it this year.