Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship 2016

Tour Report

On the bus past the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, 4:03 pm on a Friday afternoon, the 25th of April, Mel took little notice of the site that her grandfather, a veteran of World War 1, appreciated so much. Headphones in, face plastered with a cold stare- a veteran in warding off commuters looking for a seat. Mel never did understand the fuss around Anzac Day. She’d always been a part of Anzac Day commemorations up until now, but her family were more involved than her… more understanding. She’d studied their sacrifice in school, the journey to France, Belgium, Turkey… but never fully understood what compelled those men to enlist… never really cared.

On the tram past Hyde Park, 4:03 pm on a Friday afternoon in July, Mel took little notice of the bus buzzing with news of success from Australian troops at the battles of Fromelles and Pozieres, tears streaming down her face as she recalled the moment she received word her husband had been died after a bullet wound became infected. A member of the 1st division, he died at a field hospital not far from the place in Pozieres where he was shot. He’d been one of the first men to enlist, traveling to Egypt before being assigned to the first division of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, almost two and a half years ago.

On the Gascon off the shore of Gallipoli, 4:03 pm on a Friday afternoon in August, Mel took little notice of the smell of blood and metal, the sound of shells and cries of pain, focusing instead on the wounded soldier needing dressing in front of her. The lack of water around the hospital made dressing shrapnel wounds like this difficult. The sparsity of bandages didn’t help either. A convoy had arrived earlier that month without enough supplies for the makeshift hospital, most of the nurses ripping their clothes to use as bandages. The resources had run dry months ago, the same day 557 soldiers arrived wounded to the Gascon, shared between four nurses… the water and dressings were used up fast.

On the ground at the field hospital near Pozieres, 4:03 pm on a Friday Afternoon in July, Mel’s fingers moved quickly, ripping sections from her apron, dressing the bullet wound, trying to prevent the infection from spreading. It was times like these were the lack of resources prevented her from being any real help, that she found it most difficult to keep a smile for her patients. She knew this soldier, a member of the 1st Division- shot at Pozieres, wasn’t going to make it, there wasn’t nearly enough medicine to nurse this man back to health. One of many deaths she’d seen that day, he asked her to send word to his wife Mel in Sydney, before drawing his final breath. Mel had enlisted as an army nurse with the Red Cross, departing Melbourne on the HMAT Euripides in May 1916, 14 months ago.

On the road with his mates, family and friends, 4:03 pm on a Friday Afternoon, the 25th of April, Mack walked slowly. Knowing full well this would be his last Anzac Day parade, he took little notice of the crowd and focused instead on his new grand-daughter, Mel. Praying that she would continue this tradition in years to come, on his behalf. So many of the men he’d fought beside had people carrying their medals now. Every year on this day. Mack could do nothing but wish for the same.