No ditch can divide Anzac nations
GYMPIE’S trans-Tasman mates, John Newman and Kevin Hughes are living proof there’s little truth to claims that Aussies sometimes forget who put the “NZ” in “Anzac”.
And, as one New Zealander said in response, maybe New Zealanders sometimes forget where the “A” came from.
Brothers and sisters since colonial times, New Zealanders, like John, and Australians, like Kevin, regularly prove one little ditch is not enough to divide Australia’s closest international friendship.
With Anzac Day tomorrow, they linked up at the Gympie RSL this week just to make that perfectly clear.
New Zealand academic researcher Ken Hyde attracted some attention on both sides of the Tasman this week, when he said Australians commemorating the landing at Gallipoli may sometimes forget what the “NZ” in Anzac stands for.
He and Turkish researcher Serhat Harman interviewed 400 New Zealanders and Australians at Gallipoli last year.
He said Australians, seeing Anzac as a day of national pride, often overlooked New Zealand’s role.
“It’s sad but true that often when Australians use the word Anzac they’re talking of their own people and their own soldiers,” he said.
But New Zealand Returned Services Association president Robin Klitscher said his fellow New Zealanders might look at themselves before pointing the finger.
“We complain sometimes that Australians seem to forget there’s an ‘NZ’ in ‘Anzac’, but do we acknowledge the first ‘A’ stands for Australia?”
On our side of the ditch, Returned Services League national president Ken Doolan insisted the tradition of trans-Tasman co-operation had never faltered, particularly with regard to Anzac Day commemorations.
New Zealand was always represented at national commemorations in Canberra, he said.
But none of that matters to mates like John and Kevin.
John served in the New Zealand Navy for 10 years to 1960 as an Able Seaman armourer, doing maintenance on the ship’s weapons.
“I was 16 and single when I joined, and 26 and married when I came out,” he said.
His ship took him to Japan, which was still undergoing post-World War II reconstruction in 1953 and was still under military occupation.
His ship was accidentally rammed by an American landing ship near Korea and was cut to the waterline.
“I was on port lookout duty. I bailed out as soon as I could read the numbers on the side, so I’m still alive,” he said.
Kevin was 28½ years in the Australian Army.
“On my Signals File, which they give you when you leave, they called it 10,420 days of undetected crime.
“I was in the Corps of the Royal Australian Engineers and went from the rank of Sapper to Warrant Officer Class One.
“We built, maintained and demolished roads, airfields, bridges, field defences, water supply system and worked in mine warfare,” he said.
He went to Rhodesia with the Commonwealth Ceasefire Monitoring Force.