Images of War

 

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Sometimes you have to scratch your head and wonder

What are the chances on a battlefield hosting opposing armies that two bullets fired through the air at the same time from rival soldiers would hit mid-air, one becoming lodged in the other?

The two enmeshed bullets in the photo above were found in 1916 in Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli which raged for nearly ten months during World War I.

On Wednesday of this week Australia commemorated ANZAC DAY. In recent decades this day of remembrance has been used to pay tribute to those who have given their life in the service of their country in armed conflicts and wars around the world. ANZAC DAYS’ original meaning was intended to honour Australian and New Zealand soldiers who had died in just one battle – Gallipoli.

Australian school children are taught that this decisive conflict of World War I, in which an estimated combined total of nearly 400 000 soldiers on all sides died, was a defining ‘coming of age’ moment in our nation’s history (as it was in Turkey‘s).

All wars are extreme experiences that shape and test the will of a country as well as altering its trajectory into the future.  Quotes about war abound but who ever first said –

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left.”

was definitely punching above their weight in the philosophical stakes that day. To mark the occasion from Wednesday I’d like to chronicle this collection of personally curated memorable images from major armed conflicts over the last seven decades.

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A line of soldiers march in British Columbia on their way to a waiting train as five-year-old Whitey Bernard tugs away from his mother’s hand to reach out for his father.

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Flames and smoke surround the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral which was left unscathed during the start of a German incendiary bomb “blitz” on London.

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Mass paratrooper drop in the snow during WWII.

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British troops examine captured Nazi mini-tanks. The allied troops nicknamed these German weapons ‘Doodlebugs’. They were run with a joystick operated by a controller. Each mini-tank had coiled within its compartments 650 metres of cable leading back to the controller. ‘Doodlebugs’ were meant to slide under Allied tanks and deliver their explosive payload to the vulnerable undersides of their much larger machine cousins.

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Using overhead targets, a North Vietcong militia company practices firing ahead of speeding aircraft in Thanh Tri. Even using antiquated WWII rifles such as these, the Vietnamese were able to cripple or down many U.S. aircraft.

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An improvised operating room in a mangrove swamp on the Ca Mau Peninsula in South Vietnam. Ethnic Cambodian guerrilla Danh Son Huol is on the stretcher.

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Activists meet in the Nam Can forest, Sth Vietnam, wearing masks to hide their identities from one another in case of capture and interrogation.

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After spending more than five years in a North Vietnamese POW camp, Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm is reunited with his family at Travis Air Force Base, March 13, 1973.  This Pulitzer Prize winning photograph came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and the prevailing sentiment that military personnel and their families could begin a process of healing after enduring the horrors of war. Three days before this photograph was taken the Airforce Colonel received a letter from his wife saying she wanted a divorce.

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Combat boots litter the road on the outskirts of Saigon, abandoned by ARVN soldiers who shed their uniforms to hide their status. “I’ll never forget the shoes and the loud ‘thump, thump, thump’ sound as we drove over them,” recalled the photographer.

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British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher poses with troops during the Falklands War.

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A British Royal Marine from 42 Commando fires a Milan wire-guided missile at an Iraqi position on the Al Faw peninsula, southern Iraq.

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Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein moments after his capture by US forces in a farm house outside Tikrit, December 14th 2003.

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Heavy artillery fire among low-lying mist in Afghanistan.

Thankyou for visiting the SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK War Memorial.

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Ps. Not often does SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK willingly dip it’s pasty-fleshed toe into the troubled waters of controversy (ok, there was the not-too-distant-past headbutt directed at ParkRun and we probably shouldn’t forget last year’s outrageous McDonalds worker meltdown either) but this week’s hoo-ha surrounding the timing of the release of the new Marvel Studio‘s movie AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR has prompted some serious Billy Idol style involuntary lip twitching on my part. (Not sure who Billy Idol was/is? Then CLICK HERE)

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The noise and fist-shaking has all been over Event Cinema‘s decision to bring forward by one day the release of AVENGER’S: INFINITY WAR to coincide with the public holiday for ANZAC DAY (Cinemas in Australia release new movies on a Thursday).

Critics adopted the moral high ground and attempted to paint the picture that this decision was a blatant cash grab that was somehow disrespectful to the memory of fallen Australasian soldiers that ANZAC DAY is supposed to commemorate. The objection was based on the idea that (A) AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is a war movie and it is not appropriate to present war as entertainment on a day such as ANZAC DAY  (B)  making money on ANZAC DAY that does not directly benefit war widows or veterans organisations is somehow contrary to the spirit of the occasion.

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The objections to the timing of the release of the movie came from numerous quarters including the host of Channel 9‘s TODAY show, Karl Stefanovic. While I somewhat agree with Karl when he says parents would have been better off explaining to their children the significance of ANZAC DAY and maybe taking them to a service or a parade marking the occasion, is there any reason why parents could not have done that AND taken their children to this movie on the same day?

As to the notion that this Marvel Studio film can be legitimately classed as a war movie, that is surely stretching the definition of what can be considered a ‘War Film’ beyond all reason.

Films that center their events on World War 1 or World War 2, the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan Wars or any of the other major armed conflicts of modern times are to most people what is generally understood to be a war movie. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR most obviously belongs in the superheros science fiction camp and to suggest otherwise is deliberately misleading.

Pss.  Staying on the war theme, comes this week’s book recommendation – DEAR MRS BIRD by first time English novelist A.J Pearce (Find Out More Here) published earlier this month.

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Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to make the most of things in Luftwaffe-strafed 1940 London, putting their best feet forward and all that.

In Emmeline’s case she’s desperate to become a lady War Correspondent. But with those jobs thin on the ground, instead she finds herself typing out the woebegone letters sent to Henrietta Bird, an agony aunt type columnist in the pages of Women’s Friend Magazine.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have gone too far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding.

As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.

DEAR MRS BIRD has been described as hilariously funny and a moving tale of friendship in a magically recreated London-during-the-Blitz era.

Psss. QWEEKEND MAGAZINE is a weekly insert in the Saturday edition of The Courier Mail newspaper. The magazine claims a readership of 275 000 people. Taking out a double page advertisement in it will set you back in excess of $42 000. Capture 2

Each week the magazine runs a caption competition. Winners names and their winning captions are published two weeks after each contest. You’ll likely recognize the name attached to this one –

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Pssss. And in the tradition of SWS celebrating success wherever it finds it, final words this week go in the form of congratulation to the Sydney based St George Dragons NRL Club who have successfully tendered to have a team included in the inaugural 2018 Women’s Premiership sponsored by Holden.

The Dragons will be joined by the Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors in an elite four team, month-long competition that will be played during the NRL finals series.

The AFL kicked off their women’s competition last year.

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12 thoughts on “Images of War

  1. Glen, excellent pictorial coverage of wartime events – there are no winners in wars – the second World War of 1939- — was the war to end all wars???

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Though usually attributed to the 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) I understand the description of World War I being ‘THE WAR TO END ALL WARS’ was originally coined by science fiction writer H.G. Wells (1866 – 1946).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess there is no shortage of those who want to express outrage no matter what. I too would suggest Infinity War is more a science fiction than anything serious to detract from the meaning of ANZAC Day. As with previous years, I was happy to attend a local ANZAC Day service, mainly to present to the kids a message that what we have today didn’t come “easy”, and may still yet need to be fought for, if we wish to maintain the standards and values so easily taken for granted.

    After the service by Forest Lake, Lauren suggested we go for coffee at Simple Bliss, which has coffee second to none, and an aspect on the lake which is truly delightful to say the least. The place was humming when we got there, so I suggested to Lauren she jump behind the counter to help out Astrid, who didn’t have any extra staff at that moment. Lauren does sometimes have morning shifts there after all. Stevie had no idea Lauren worked there, so the look on his face was awesome. He was dumbfounded by his sister’s brazen behaviour in stepping up to take orders in a coffee shop he had never been to before.

    I personally was very proud of her. She was wearing her Great Grandfather’s WW1 service medals after all, as she served behind the counter. It added an extra touch to ANZAC Day for me. I learned later, when things were quiet enough for her to leave her volunteer post and join us at the table, some were not so inspired as was I.

    It was probably best I wasn’t there. I don’t suffer fools too well after all. Someone had the audacity to say to my beautiful daughter that wearing someone else’s medals was disrespectful. I wonder if they would have made such an inane comment if they knew they were the service medals of her family line. What was even weirder, was the next person in line said they agreed.

    Yes, it probably was still best I wasn’t in ear shot of these absurdities. I was wearing my father’s WW2 service medals. I could have asked them if I was disrespecting my father by said action. I was lethal with an L1A1 SLR, and wasn’t shy with an M60 either, when I had opportunity during my service in the Reserve Army over 3 decades ago now. Still, I may have found an accuracy with the sharpness of my tongue that may have even made the day for Dirty Harry.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The situation you’ve described could be viewed as having multiple layers of meaning – to the extent I’ve been moved to consult the brains trust (wife) on it.

    The suggestion has come back that perhaps it’s the setting (coffee shop) in which the medals were being worn is what these ladies were objecting to and not the act of a non-service person wearing them in itself.

    There are plenty of children in parades around the country who are seen wearing their grandfather’s medals on ANZAC DAY in April and REMEMBRANCE DAY in November so that aspect presents as nothing unusual. Some people really are busy bodies aren’t they?

    If those coffee shop patrons wanted to air their opinion, rather then spoil a young girl’s morning, all they had to do was get on the hallowed comments page of SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK and I would gladly have sent a couple of verbal uppercuts their way (joking! …sort of….).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s good to see that the NRL has introduced the inaugural Women’s Premiership this year because the World Cup tournament last year showcased some amazing talent, but I wish they had made it a 6 team competition. South Sydney and particularly the Sharks were upset that they missed out this year, as they started it in 2016 (against the mighty Dragons).

    Still a giant step in the right direction.

    Even going to be an origin match.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that tip-off about the NRL Women’s State of Origin match on Friday June 2nd at North Sydney Oval.

      I’m slightly embarrased to admit a fascination at watching whenever a female footballer crashes over the tryline, and like the men, executes an eye-candy swan dive to boost the occasion to the next level. The fascination is how they don’t damage their chests, which lets face it, are built less to withstand that type of impact than a man’s.

      The door to the beehive’s just been prized open folks if anyone wants to take that one on…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Terrific piece, Glen! I loved the section with all the iconic images from wars throughout the years.

    Being a school teacher, I am constantly impressed that Anzac Day services are conducted at schools as they were when I was a kid.

    What Roger said, certainly struck a chord with me. I march proudly with my father who served in Vietnam and have done so for many years. The whole family does, including the kids. We all wear medals to honour family members who served their country.

    Initially, when I was younger, I felt a little out of place. Was I worthy to be marching with veterans? I even questioned the idea of young kids marching. Did they really understand the true significance of this occasion? What I’ve come to understand is that the vast majority of veterans absolutely embrace the youth of this country marching. They actually embrace it! There will always be people who question it, but I feel a little bit sad for them. I know that I have never served this country in the forces, but I know it means a hell of a lot to my Dad and family and to a lot of people. It’s a special day for the Richos! The two up at the Yeronga RSL isn’t bad either.

    On the topic of showing the Avengers movie on Anzac Day. I don’t have a problem with it. The kids in my class loved it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Great work, Glen! Very thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad to see you back in the SWS commenting fold, so to speak, Geoff.

    The occasion of ANZAC DAY for as long as I can remember has always been a yearly catalyst for discussion and debate on a whole range of topics of national and cultural importance (everything from immigration to multiculturalism to accusations of glorifying war to now the bloody Avengers!) and this year has certainly been no exception.

    I for one enjoy the annual gaze into the national consciousness.

    Like

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