Samantha Wardle Creative Writing and Visual Artwork
PAMS scholars in replica AIF uniforms pause at the Passchendaele Trench Experience Museum in Zonnebeke, Belgium. Here pictured on the path across the Passchendaele battlefield between Zonnebeke and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Tyne Cot. The AIF fought here in October 1917.
Image source: PAMS 2016 photo collection
Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship 2016
Creative Text One
I was given the opportunity of a life time to take part in the 2016 Premier’s Anzac scholarship to the Western Front and I thought I would share a speech on the experience I have learnt on this trip that our ANZAC soldiers went through.
A story full of pain is a story I wish I could explain, what I saw on the battle fields which were full of flowers, butterflies and even the blissful hum of a tranquil scene
I wish it was like that back then so our soldiers could smile at one more beautiful thing before death gave them a grin, a smirk of disgust to a life so young and the infection of bodies that would line the soil. Today we learn of loss no greater than any other.
An adventure too grand to miss was what our soldiers believed. An idea so grand placed into our men’s heads, run boy or you’ll miss out on the chance to be a man, stand up and fight!
Is putting your life on the line for a battle where the chances of coming back are slim really worth it? But the answer from our troops bounced from wall to wall, YES was always the answer.
Rain and the burning hot sun putting our soldiers through hell and then having to pull themselves together, to get up and have another go the next day. Feet cold, bodies covered in infections the war was a shower of blood whether from its enemy or allies it all ran the same colour, red and still ground dug to create holes for the endless amount of bodies
I want you to close your eyes until you can only just see what’s around you close them until it’s all blurring, it’s like knowing only half the story half the information it’s like running over a hill not knowing if it will be the enemy waiting or a field of wheat, heads or tails it’s a flip of a coin.
The experience our men, women and boys went through was hell from the buckets used as toilets that were always over flowing to the endless amount of lice and diseases, puss ridden boils and oozing feet, calloused hands and ingrown toe nails.
How would you like it if you were constantly scratching or had influenza, typhoid, trench foot, trench fever or malaria just to name a few of the diseases that you could have encountered many of these would take 3 to 6 months to fully recover from or if you had trench foot caused by exposure to wet damp conditions and they are the conditions you are in 24/7 the likely hood of you recovering was extremely slim.
Just imagine being told that what was wrong with you was influenza which basically meant you had up to 3 days left to live maximum. In which you would be bed bound, stuck to live out your last moments in bed, not with family not with friends, alone so you won’t infect anyone else, left to die in a dirty unhygienic hospital tent if you’re lucky and not in a ditch.
Lying there so lifeless but yet you still have to get up to stand again, to fight a war,to put a bullet through a hill or a bullet through a heart to pluck a life in this war as simple as skimming a stone into a pond is that the right we gave our men ?
You went to rest with a friend but this morning you wake up with amongst murder, you friend is gone and you have stepped in what is left of his skull. How does this make you feel sick? like you want to vomit?
this is a sight that you were sorry to say you were use to, a sight that left you wounded, not wanting to continue on, some tried to take themselves out of the war, breaking down , running or self harming. Those that left for war and made the journey home they were different people, quiet people personalities changed forever from the horrors of war.
The nurses, the ones left in the shadows they hide behind a whisper, rarely recognised for their work and bravery the horrible smell of death marks their hands when they go to sleep and when they go to eat those same hands put bandages around the wounded, move the dead out of their beds, the smell haunted them until it was their time to leave
Have you ever wondered what it sounds like when rain turns to metal have you ever wondered what it sounds like when rain turns to gas keep on wondering as we will not truly know what our men and women at home and on the battle fields went through?
Creative Text Two
1 Frommel was a beautiful town enriched with beauty and history from the rolling hills and brick houses it was a town like the rest with house rules and chores it was like any old town until 6, 6pm
2 The 1st of July the soldiers marched off to fight what might have been the last days for their love ones to see them this is when it truly started but first attempts failed until the 19th they rose
3 As the shells of bullets rained down on our soldiers in their thin lined trenches in the cold wet days 1...2...3... Gone soldiers ancestors brothers fathers gone swept away with the war
4 Rain and the burring hot sun putting our soldiers through hell and then them having to pull themselves up and having to go another day feet cold with mud bodies covered in infections the war was a shower of blood British blood and German blood all ran the same colour red but still ground dug to create holes for the endless amount of bodies
5 The men and woman led into the war by two the side we call the enemy was run by a German soldier named General Lichtenfels (Gustav Scanzoni von Lichtenfels) our side was run by General Sir Haking (Richard Cyril Byrne) they led large numbers of men to hunt each other 30 000 to 25 000 the German outnumbered us by 5000 thirsty men but not heartless
6 They came in waves in a strike under the clouded sky for the battle was not a basic game of tug of war between one side Germany Bavaria Prussia Saxony and the second the British Empire Australia and the United Kingdom
7 and then they all started to pull the ropes on the first day by the timer of the 24 hours up 7080 British (Expeditionary) Forces men died (BEF) casualties of 5533 losses were injured by the Australian Division German losses were between 1600 - 2000 with 150 taken prisoner.
8 In the 24 hours you can say good bye to the over 14613 who pleaded their life to the war slaughtered and butchered they were indeed how long could their trenches hold them
9 As a tactical plan to keep the Germans from reinforcing there troops at the battle of Somme the British sent their troops our troops into the fire
10 as the German men took control of the front line our men walked no man’s land thy pushed and pushed backwards and forwards the pulling of the rope became tighter and tighter
11 the British always advancing passing the endless amount of empty trenches but more and more soldiers rose to flight from the opposite side
12 Many stories are told of our men being brave and strong many of their dairy entries we read aloud I have a passage written by Private Alexzander Noland
13 Today’s date I’m not quite sure but from this day to the ending of the world we in it shall be remembered we few we band of brothers for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
14 He continues to talk about a brother, one of my brothers Mathew said wise words “many men buried and torn to pieces by high explosive. For a mile behind the trenches it is a perfect hell of shell fire. Terrible sights. The stretcher-bearers are having a terrible time, some blown to pieces together with their living freight.”
15 Mathew kept me fighting for the lost brothers to my dearest Sophie I hope to see you soon love your dearest Alexzander
16 It came to a point where both sides had not come to any progress it became a pointless quest the British came up with a plan a plan to get it started again they started to pull and asked that the Australian troops to assist
17 by the time the British a banded the plan it was too late the Australians had set of to do the unthinkable there is no record of this happening there is only an unanswered number of Australian deaths occurred in a time that no longer exists
18 Men gone with the whispers it did not come within a week a spilt moment and gone
19 If the deaths were higher than the lie that could have been told well then it never happened
20 Cursed to be so far from home the Frommels almost 2000 of the men killed or died of their wounds and a some of 400 were captured with a bargain on their lives the Fromelles the most tragic event to happen in 24 hours
21 After the curse of the war was over still 1335 Australians still missing from the battle missing
22 The once lost man laid to rest the once lost men said goodbye to his best friend now they both lye in the fields with the poppies
Persevere, 2016. Mixed media on canvas
The impact of war was a horrific event and this is what I have tried to capture in my artwork. The lost men buried and the ones left to remain witness to the horrors of war. You cannot identify where this man is from all you can tell is he is mourning the loss of a comrade. The soldiers never stopped fighting no matter the cost no matter how unrealistic the orders. “To continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success”- a great definition of our men the definition of Persevere.