I have watched from the dirt ramparts of the base at Tarin Kot…
I have heard the noise of battle in the distance; taken the radio call…
I have awaited their return and tended their wounds…
I have worn their blood.
So many of us have worn their blood.
(excerpts from an address given by Wing Commander Sharon Bown before the Anzac Day Dawn Service, 2014)
A few months ago I visited the Australian War memorial in Canberra to see an exhibition of paintings by Ben Quilty based on his visit to Afghanistan as an official war artist. https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/quilty/
Near his work was an exhibition of sculpture by Alex Seton, commemorating the Australian servicemen who lost their lives in the Afghanistan conflict. https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/seton/
Also during that visit I came across a quote very similar to the one above, taken from a speech given by Wing Commander Sharon Bown. The evocative sentence “I have worn their blood” stayed with me afterwards and I tried to find where it came from.
I found it in a transcript of the speech, found here: https://www.awm.gov.au/sharon-bown-anzac-day-2014/
Through the combined effects of Ben Quilty’s paintings, Seton’s sculptures and, Sharon Bown’s statement, an interest in the human cost of warfare was stirred, as well as a desire to learn more about those who deal with that cost.
I started by read a couple of military autobiographies from participants in the Afghanistan conflict. I wrote about the first of them in my previous blog post.
I’ve also been reading about the events behind the Australian commemoration of Anzac Day.
April 25th this year will be the 100th anniversary of those events .
I’m sure that few Australians know the reality behind those legendary Anzacs (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) so I’ve decided to deal with my own ignorance and will try to share some of the journey in the weeks leading up to that approaching centenary.