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  • Day55

    Anzac Day in Isolation

    April 25, 2020 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    With the normal Anzac Day services not possible because of the restrictions currently in place banning gatherings of people, everyone had been encouraged to conduct their own service before sunrise outside their own house. Maggie and I decided to set the alarm for 5.45 am and conduct our own small service.

    It certainly was cold outside and there was still no sign of the sunrise when we donned some warm clothes and walked to the end of the drive. Although the street was still deserted, I could hear someone playing the "Last Post", somewhere in the distance. We appeared to be the only ones in our street who had risen early, but it seemed to be the right thing to do. It brought back memories of my grandfather, so I thought I would take some time to include some of his story here.

    My grandfather, Horace Dawson, embarked for Gallipoli on July 16th 1915 on the HMAT Demosthenes. He was a 2nd Lt with the 23rd Infantry Battalion reinforcements. He had recently been married and left for Turkey only a few days after the wedding. My father was born nine months later. My grandfather did not get to meet his first son until he returned from the war in 1919.

    After the debacle at Gallipoli, Horace went to Egypt to play an important role as adjutant and second in charge of the Bicycle Battalion which saw extensive action in France and Belgium. This is something I only found out in 2012, as my grandfather would never talk about his war experiences. I do remember his eyes being permanently bloodshot, apparently as a result of being badly affected by mustard gas.

    In July 1919 he was Mentioned in Despatches for his exemplary work in the formation of the Bicycle Battalion and his commendation bears the famous signature of Winston Churchill, who at that time was the Secretary of State for War.

    My grandfather never got to see his son until he returned to Australia in 1919. After his return he had another 5 children and lived a long and productive life, living to over 100. His later years were mostly spent in Sorrento, close to where his grandparents had first landed in Australia on the famous plague ship The Ticonderoga in 1852. He passed away in 1989.

    I just wished I had the privilege to know him better. RIP Horace Dawson.

    The main picture shows my grandfather on the left. The other images show some of the other members of the Bicycle Battalion.
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