Canberra War Memorial – 4th February 2019

We started the day with speaking to Simone and Joannie back in Calgary who were telling us it was -30c there and also that our hot water system was leaking. Fortunately, the cistern is in the basement and we have a sump pump down there, so should it decide to collapse, the water will be contained.  We have given the guys some guidelines and have left it in their capable hands for now.

We then scurried off to the Canberra War Memorial which we last visited about twenty years ago or more. It has changed substantially since our last visit. On our walk from the car park to the entrance we came across this very cheeky cockatoo. These birds are very long-lived, and can live upwards of 70 years in captivity, although they only live to about 20–40 years in the wild.

You have been seeing photos taken from the Parliamentary buildings over the last few days but none from the position of the War Memorial. The road is called ANZAC Parade which is lined by Eucalyptus trees representing Australia and the low Hebe bushes representing New Zealand.

Entry was as per a donation. We were surprised as to how many international tourists were there.

We were met at the entrance by two lions that had originally stood on plinths on either side of the Menin Gate at Ypres. This gate was one of only two entries into the medieval fortified city. It was through this gate that allied soldiers, including Australians, marched to the battlefields of the Ypres salient between 1914 and 1918. We visited Ypres with Fraser’s mum back in 2009 as her Uncle Laddie’s name is on the Menin Gate.

We got to close that circle today as his name is on the Roll of Honour wall at the War Memorial.

With the assistance from the War Memorial who provided us with a ladder we were able to insert the poppy next to the name of SMITH H.M. (Harold Maxwell).

You’d have to agree that this causes for a very stirring sight. The practice of putting poppies on the Roll of Honour Wall only commenced in 1993.

1993 was the year the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created at the War Memorial. Many people queued for many hours to put their poppies on the grave and it resulted with many of them opting to put their poppy on the Roll of Honour Wall instead. Since then, it has grown.

There was so much to see there and they encouraged you to take photos, which we did, but unless you see them in their setting it looses the effectiveness of the story.

Some of you may know that more than 800,000 ceramic poppies were made as part of a display called ‘Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red’, and each one represented the death of a British or Commonwealth serviceman during WWI. This display was at the Tower of London in the moat area. The museum was fortunate to have one of these poppies given to them from the British.

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