Sunday, April 27, 2008

Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It

I missed Anzac Day at our park this year - a shame because I find the ceremony very moving and poignant, especially the small local gatherings which have strong connections to the names on the memorial stone.

As I was driving to work that day I listened to Philip Adams talking with author, Peter Ewer and 93 yr old veteran Frank Cox, about a group of Anzacs that I, and probably a lot of other people, never knew existed.

The Forgotten Anzacs were Australian and New Zealand troops that fought in the Second World War under the umbrella of the "Anzac Spirit", in another battle that proved disastrous for the soldiers involved and which reinforces my low opinion of the British Military Command of the time.

"The campaign in Greece turned out to have uncanny parallels to the original Gallipoli operation: both were inspired by Winston Churchill, both were badly planned by British military leaders, and both ended in defeat and evacuation. British bungling at Gallipoli was one thing; but in Greece, Churchill authorised his commanders to leave the Anzacs to their fate if their rescue compromised wider British interests.

Just as Gallipoli provided military academies the world over with lessons in how not to conduct a complex feat of arms, Churchill’s Greek adventure reinforced fundamental lessons in modern warfare — heavy tanks could not be stopped by men armed with rifles, and Stuka dive-bombers would not be deflected by promises of air support from London that were never honoured."

Frank Cox was one of those soldiers and spent 3 yrs as a prisoner of war after he and thousands of other troops were left on the island to fend for themselves. Despite his very advanced age he tells his story with a clarity and sureness of memory that I envy.

The Late Night Live episode is still available on line and is well worth a listen.

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