By Bruce Scates
Australians were making pilgrimages to the battlefields and cemeteries of worldwide warfare because the Forties, from the jungles of latest Guinea and South-East Asia to the mountains of Greece and the deserts of North Africa. They commute looking for the tales of misplaced household, to mourn the useless and to return to grips with the earlier. With attribute empathy, Bruce Scates charts the background of pilgrimages to Crete, Kokoda, Sandakan and Hellfire go. He explores the emotional resonance that those websites have in case you served and people who take note. in response to surveys, interviews, huge fieldwork and archival study, Anzac trips bargains insights into the tradition of loss and commemoration and the starvation for that means so pivotal to the event of pilgrimage. Richly illustrated with full-colour maps and pictures from the Nineteen Forties to at the present time, Anzac trips makes a massive and relocating contribution to Australian army background.
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The pieces can still be found in a yellowing file of papers held by the Mitchell Library. In one line a Chinese servant’s account of ‘a heap of bodies’ butchered a few yards from the track; in the next, Simpson’s graphic capitalised notation, ‘I HAVE SEEN THIS SPOT, FROM WHICH 49 PRISONERS BODIES WERE RECOVERED. ’28 Simpson’s first broadcasts home anticipated the later narrative style of Six from Borneo. There is the same attempt to situate the listener in place, the same mixing of narrator voices, the same lure of the journey.
Now we were on the actual track of the Death Marches. When the sweat ran into our eyes on steep climbs we thought of the prisoners the Japs used as white coolies carrying 40 pound bags of rice between Ranau and Paginatan. I carried only a waterbottle, a service revolver and a camera. We were well fed, they were starved. We were healthy, they had beri-beri, malaria, dysentery, tropical ulcers. We stopped at creeks and had a smoke, they were driven on by the guards. At night when the insects shrilled [RECORDING: INSECTS] we slept in a hut, under mosquito nets … They slept in the open or huddled from the rain under trees … Alongside this storytelling technique, the sounds of the jungle and the voices of POWs engender a sense of what Jackson called ‘authenticity’ to the text.
The Red Cross map expresses a deep desire to locate a missing loved one but, in truth, the numbers in each camp, even their location, were often a mystery. Members of Australian forces were also taken prisoner by Axis troops in Europe, but their experience has not loomed quite so large in national mythology. ‘locating a missing loved one’: a Red Cross map identifying prisoner-of-war and internee camps in the Far East. V. ’1 Misfortune was an understatement, as Britnell knew full well. Families who lost loved ones in Japanese POW camps suffered a terrible ordeal.
Anzac Journeys: Returning to the Battlefields of World War Two by Bruce Scates