Long Tan Cross

Because I live in Canberra and have a former military father (and love history!), I spend quite a lot of time at the Australian War Memorial.

I went with my father today, half because of the occasion (one hundred years since the First World War ended) – to see the thousands and thousands of handmade poppies in the garden out the front (today was the last day for the exhibition), and half because I’m currently working on the memoirs of a Military Cross-winning Vietnam veteran (my father’s commander in the war), and he was heavily involved in the Long Tan dedication ceremony.

Long Tan is by far the most famous (infamous?) battle in Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, and my father knows people in the iconic photograph.

The cross arrived at the War Memorial not all that long ago, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in its special new room. Unfortunately that room – as they tried to make it a quiet place for reflection – is practically hidden, and I think most visitors will miss it…

mde

The Week: 13th – 19th August

What a week. I am very busy at the moment.

In the world? We’ve had about 120 bushfires in the region in the past few days. To people who deny climate change: it’s WINTER here. Canberra’s kangaroo plague is getting worse (also due to climate change!). Then there was another terror attack in London, and that horrendous bridge collapse in Genoa…

Then there was the shock death of Soviet gymnastics star Yelena Shushunova. She was the 1988 Olympic Champion and a five-time World Champion. I still have video tapes of her. She died so young that one of the gymnasts she trained with still competes.

Happy Birthday to the National Library!

Enlighten Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 11th March 2017 National Library of Australia Canberra Women's History Reflection Night

Out Now: Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears by John McNamee

Pie Comic by John McNamee Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears

On this day: the Australian Women’s Army Service was formed

Awas_in_wa_1943Northam, West Australia. 1943-04-20. The Minister for the Australian Army, the Honourable F.M. Forde, inspecting personnel of the Australian Women's Army Service at the We

Vietnam Veterans Day

Binh Ba 1 - Copy

One Year Ago

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On this day: the Australian Women’s Army Service was formed

AWASwithOwengunsAWAS with Owen guns. Members of the Australian Women’s Army Service being instructed in the use of the Owen gun at Belmont in Queensland.

Instructions in the use of the Owen gun. Belmont, Queensland. X

The Australian Women’s Army Service, created to release more men into forward positions in the military during the Second World War, was formed on the 13th of August, 1941.

AWAS_-_poster Australian Women's Army Service Recruitment poster

Recruitment Poster

Lae, New Guinea, 25 December 1945. The Right Honourable J.B. Chifley talking to Sergeant Pritchard, AWAS, the only woman interpreter of Japanese in the Australian Army.

Sergeant Pritchard (right), the only Japanese translator in the Australian Army. X

The AWAS was preceded by the Women’s Australian National Service in 1940, where women proved they were capable of performing traditionally male roles.

Awas_in_wa_1943Northam, West Australia. 1943-04-20. The Minister for the Australian Army, the Honourable F.M. Forde, inspecting personnel of the Australian Women's Army Service at the We

The Minister for the Australian Army, the Honourable F.M. Forde, with AWAS members in Western Australia in 1943.

24 026 women were enlisted over the course of the war, and several hundred served in New Guinea.

The AWAS was disbanded in 1947.

On this day: the Battle of Amiens

In Times Gone By...

The iconic Battle of Amiens, later to be known as the opening chapter of the Hundred Days Offensive that ended the First World War, took place from the 8th to the 12th of August, 1918.

This painting, by Australian official war artist Will Longstaff, is titled 8th August, 1918. It shows a column of German prisoners of war heading in one direction, while horse-drawn artillery heads in the other.

The painting can be found in the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

8th August, 1918 (oil-on-linen, 107 cm x 274 cm, 1918-1919) by Will Longstaff, Australian official war artist. Depicts a scene during the Battle of Amiens. The view is towards the west,

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Travel Reads

I’ve had a review copy of this one for a while now, but have to finish it! Originally published in German, I find it interesting it is about colonial Australia. For some reason books set in rural Australia are HUGE in Germany.

The Convict’s Mistress: A heart-breaking tale of forbidden love in a new land by Inez Corbi

Australia, 1800: Moira, a young Irish girl, arrives in New South Wales with her much older husband, a doctor who has been sent to work at the penal colony.

Locked in a marriage of convenience, the blue skies and sunshine do nothing for Moira; she is miserable, far from home and her beloved horses. A future in this land of red earth seems bleak. But things change after she meets Duncan, one of the convicts, who she saves during a camp raid. As the two get to know each other they grow closer and Moira realises she may have a chance at happiness.

But how can she escape her controlling husband? And Duncan, imprisonment? Together they dream of a future that may never be possible . . .

This epic, sweeping tale of forbidden love and new beginnings is perfect for fans of The Tea Planter’s Wife.

V-J Day!

Celebrations in Australia 1945, after six years of war.

I was stunned the other day to come across a group of Americans didn’t even know we were involved. We joined right at the start, in 1939, thousands of us were there with everyone else on D-Day, more bombs were dropped on the Darwin than on Pearl Harbor, and Australia saw the war through to the end.

The problem might partially be that we fought many wars in history as part of the British Empire, and all of us – Australians, Canadians, Kiwis etc. – got lumped in as Brits.

However, I also think Hollywood has a lot to answer for. They’re always portraying the US as singlehandedly fighting and winning the war. It was, after all, a *WORLD* War.

Twenty Years…

Thredbo Landslide. 2nd August 1997. This photograph was taken moments after Stuart Diver was freed from the rubble after spending 65 hours buried in the rubble. Mr Diver lost his first w

Today is the twentieth anniversary of Stuart Diver’s rescue from the rubble of the Thredbo landslide. While people outside Australia probably know little or nothing about this event, it was a Big Deal in Australia at the time, and this image of the moment he was carried out became iconic.

The landslide happened at the New South Wales ski resort on the night of the 30th of July, 1997, killing eighteen people. Diver’s wife Sally drowned when the space she was trapped in filled with water, but he survived sixty-five hours in freezing conditions.

Afterwards, Diver became a national celebrity, wrote a book about his experience, and was even the subject of a movie.

Sadly, his second wife also died, in March 2015.

The Week: 26th June – 2nd July

Saturday evening in Canberra. We had literally just sat down at the new Hawaiian restaurant when we were evacuated because of a smoke alarm! I think there were four fire engines that came.

Walt and Burley Sunday Afternoon 25th June 2017 Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Oksana SUnset

Poachers Pantry Hall near Canberra Australia Sheep Farm Nature Sonya Heaney 25th June 2017

The end of last week: lunch in the country (weird sheep!), and after that drinks next to the lake in Canberra.

We have something of a sulphur-crested cockatoo plague here!

Happy 101st birthday to Olivia de Havilland for yesterday. Perhaps best known for Gone With the Wind, she did a lot more than that over her long career.

Fascinating story about the discovery and restoration of Australia’s first flag.

This week, charges were FINALLY brought against Cardinal George Pell. An Australian, and one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, he has been making news headlines here for years. The levels of victim-blaming have been staggering, and some of the conservative media spokespeople ought to be ashamed of themselves.

And – the less said about Trump’s latest Twitter attacks (the lowest he’s ever sunk?), the better.

Speaking of Christmas books already appearing for review, I read my first of the year this week.

New Cover for Anne Gracie

R.I.P. Michael Bond

Twenty Years of Harry Potter