mission

Lest We Forget

Anzacday_2013_webheaderIt’s 4.20am.  No sign yet of first light.  The birds haven’t even given their first hint of welcome to a new day.  But Maddy (9), Ashley (7) and Kellan (4) are greeting it with gusto  – they’re enthusiastically getting ready for an early start.

It’s ANZAC day, that one day of the year, where 2 young nations get a day out to honour those who fought and sacrificed that we might be free.Ashley with Grandpa Conroy's medal and Madelyn with Grandpa Wights.

And the great thing is, that 98 years after that military blunder that squandered young lives and impoverished us of talent for a generation, we forget the blunder, and honour those sacrifices that gave the 2 young Antipodean nations identity.  Maddy, Ashley and Kellan wanted to go to the Dawn Service to remember.

Bert astride his US Air Force Indian motor cycle.

Bert astride his US Air Force Indian motor cycle.

Maddy got up and carefully pinned on Great Great Grandpa Bert Wight’s replica medals.  She’s honouring Bert who served in the RAAF.

He joined the air force in 1942 after working in the Australian Air Force Factory.  Bert was seconded to the US Air Force.  They had a major base at Batchelor in the NT.

Bert carried intelligence, wore black arms, packed a pistol and was able to go through all checkpoints without being stopped.

One of his jobs was to get the film for the photos taken during bombing raids.  He took the film directly from the aircraft to take them to HQ, so that nobody could interfere with them.  This was for intelligence purposes for effectiveness of the mission but also to ensure that bombs weren’t dropped over the sea instead of on the targets.

Bert told stories of going out to retrieve planes that crash-landed and his most graphic story was of seeing a tail-gunner’s remains hosed out of the rear gun turret of the  plane.

He admitted to soiling his britches when he was an observer on a raid over Indonesia.  Fortunately Bert didn’t actually sustain any physical  injuries during the war.

Keith with his daughter Valerie taken in Hyde Park in 1943 whilst he was on leave.

Keith with his daughter Valerie taken in Hyde Park in 1943 whilst he was on leave.

Ashley carefully pinned on Great Great Grandpa Keith Conroy’s replica medals.  She’s honouring Keith who served in the Army in the supply and resupply area.

Even Teddies get tired at ANZAC.

Even Teddies get tired at ANZAC.

He mainly served around Sydney, which also took him to Muswellbrook and Holsworthy.

He actually did sustain 2 injury’s whilst serving his country.  He was in the back of a truck which  lurched forward and he was thrown to the ground and broke his wrist.  Friendly fire?

After 6 weeks, he returned to service and found an army horse tangled in wire.   As he tried to free it, the horse kicked out and broke the other wrist.  Unfriendly fire?

Our intrepid little patriots headed off toward the Cenotaph at Redlands RSL at 0450 hours, after being dropped off by Nana.  They were amongst thousands who wanted to snare a close spot, but not even 4.50am was early enough to get a place where you could see everything.  But all things considered our spot wasn’t too bad.  We were right beside the Air Force Cadets and saw them begin their march.

Everybody held together really well, but the Teddies did tire at one stage.

 

Ashley and Maddy standing next a WW2 motor cycle like Bert Wight used to ride.

Ashley and Maddy standing next a WW2 motor cycle like Bert Wight used to ride.

After the service, we looked at the tributes on the cenotaph and then had a look around and saw some old equipment from WW2.  Some of which reminded us of some of Grandpa Wight’s experiences.

This is like the WW2 Willy Jeeps that Bert Wight repaired during the war.

This is like the WW2 Willy Jeeps that Bert Wight repaired during the war.

Bert really ingratiated himself to his Yankee boss by getting his Jeep going.  Bert was a motor mechanic by trade.

The Jeep hadn’t started straight off the boat.  It turned out that grease had been placed in the distributor to prevent rust during the sea voyage to Australia and as a result it had no spark.  Bert had it figured in no time flat.

Bert made this favour count for all it was worth!

So Bert was able to make 2 things from his civvy life work for him.  He was a mechanic and used his skills to get in sweet with the boss.  He raced motorbikes and got to ride one as one of his main jobs.

Tears at ANZAC as Kellan strives to reclaim favourite snuggling place next to Mum.

Tears at ANZAC as Kellan strives to reclaim favourite snuggling place next to Mum.

There were some tears from our smallest intrepid patriot.  Kellan was all happy while he was snuggled up to Mum (Kylie).  But when he stood up during a little lapse in concentration, Maddy jumped into the vacant spot and he was out!

Kellan wasn’t happy and neither was Teddy.  Eventually, being the baby, he prevailed and sweated Maddy out to reclaimed home base.

Poppies for Maddy, AShley and Kellan at the Dawn Service.

Poppies for Maddy, Ashley and Kellan at the Dawn Service.

To add a really nice touch to ANZAC 2013, an official from the RSL noticed a Mum and 3 children (plus 3 teddies) leaving the ceremony and called them over.  He had a poppy for each  child.  Something to top off the Dawn Service experience.

 

As we walked over and waited for Nana to pick us up, we walked by the entrance to the RSL precinct, which spelled out the message that we came to hear.  LEST WE FORGET.

The message we really came to hear.

The message we really came to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topping the Teatotallers

DSC_0445 - Version 3

imgres

Bill had Sergeant Eiser’s ‘we’re watching you’ message confirmed every time he drove into town. The police had him absolutely bluffed.

Bill was absolutely bluffed about the ‘We’re watching you’ warning from Police Sergeant Eiser and Constable Stagg.  The cops were as good as their word. Every time Bill had to go into Tambo, he had it confirmed that they watching.

Billy & Johanne - 1957

All Oil Drilling and Exploration (ODE) vehicles available to Bill were clearly marked with decals like this one on the door of the International ute.

In the end, it just wasn’t worth going to the pub.  Every vehicle had ODE decals on the doors and stood out like a sore thumb.  If he went incognito in the Land-Rover, it would break down and consume more repair time and more money on parts.  In any case, it had Mineral Sands signwriting on it and would be readily noticeable.

Bill had been on a serious alcoholic slide for a couple of years.  He had drunk his way through much of the initial payment for the Fraser Island mineral sands.  If there were more options for single mothers in 1957, he would have been on his own.

But Bill’s slide was arrested with a jolt, after he weighed up some options.

He had no doubt that the Sergeant Eiser didn’t need much incentive to put him in the lockup.  With Val now at home, the Sergeant no longer had to work out what to do with the children.  There was nothing to stop a little ‘holiday’ happening.

Basically, there was no way he could have a drink in peace, so why bother?

Bill decided that he may as well give the grog away altogether.  So he did.

The pendulum swung to the opposite extreme.

Bill and Val  joined the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Adventists made teetotallers look like indulgers.  The Church embraced most aspects of the Temperance Movement of the mid-nineteenth century and took it a bit further.  “Moderation in the things that are good for you, and abstinence from those things that are bad for you.”  Hard to argue with when you think about it.

tmprnce15full

The Adventists had a religious genealogy that harks back to the reformers. And there was certainly something to reform. The title of this brochure borrows from that famous work, The Pilgrims Progress.

Good Adventists didn’t smoke or drink alcohol, didn’t drink tea or coffee, didn’t eat meat, didn’t go to the movies, didn’t work on Saturday, didn’t shop on Saturday, didn’t swim on Saturday…. and paid 10% of their income in tithe.

Adventists topped the teatotallers.

Tea and coffee hit the Adventist list of things that are not good for you and thereby made the ‘thou shalt not’ list.  In that sense, Adventist went further than the Temperance Movement teatotallers.

But that was just what Bill needed.

He could never have just one drink.

However, Bill never gave tea away.  He would have his tea, even if it meant being a Badventist.

All Bill’s pendulum opposite jolt took was a call to his father Bert, who was working on the Seventh Day Adventist Mona Mona Mission near Kuranda.  Before Bill knew it, Adventist Colporteur George Walker was on the case and on the doorstep.  Ironically, as an ex-detective, George was on the case.

So there we have it.  Some ‘Bossy Matron and Caring Cop love’ probably kept a family together.

Now here’s the thing about the ‘topping the teatotallers’ Adventist experience….  Bill and Val enjoyed quality family time and they never got on better together.

As for the tithing, that didn’t seem to do much harm.   They worked their way out of debt and were starting to save.

In fact, they could have had savings at the end of the Heartbreak Corner experience, except they had a hungry Land-Rover to feed, but that’s another story.

Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications when there are new posts

Login