It is a hundred years since the Gallipoli campaign. The adventure started on a rugged beach in south-western Turkey. But as Les Carlyon, author of Gallipoli noted, “Romance and realism met on the battlefield. As it always does, romance lost.”
It was a futile exercise, ill conceived and under resourced. The initial plan was to take the Peninsula in 11 days. It dragged out to 240 days and ended in defeat. It became patently obvious after the first 2 weeks that the allies didn’t have the numbers or guns to win.
Quinn’s Post was the most forward of the Anzac positions almost within touching distance of the opposing Turkish trenches. In his book The Spirit of Gallipoli: The Birth of the Anzac Legend Patrick Lindsay records the observation of a young digger who served at Quinn’s Post. He said, “The ground itself seemed to be wounded and bleeding.”
War is brutal and bloody. There were 50,000 to 60,000 Australians who served on Gallipoli. The casualties were high – 8709 killed in action and a further 19,441 wounded.
But it was in the dusty, blood spattered, maggot infested trenches that the Anzac Spirit was born – mateship, loyalty, courage, and the refusal to give up no matter how hopeless the cause.
Les Carlyon writes,
“The war was hard on the next generation of Australians. Men came home morose and bitter and sometimes violent, everything made worse because they couldn’t explain what made them that way; they had demons but the demons didn’t have names.” It is the future generations that see the Gallipoli campaign with ‘a gentler eye’.
It is 4 years since our son, Adam, took his life. In 2011 there were 2273 suicides in Australia. That equates to one death every 3 to 4 hours. Suicide attempts are considerably more, estimated at 200 attempts per day. Death by suicide greatly exceeds the national road toll and is the major cause of death among young people.
Recent media reports have highlighted the prevalence of mental illness in all age groups and the disturbing number of suicides in the military.
Suicide is a devastating occurrence. During the early stages of our grief, Adam’s death cast a long shadow over our lives. The sadness would not go away. But as the weeks and months pass there is a dulling of the pain and a growing understanding of the multiple factors that led to his death. Whilst we were initially burdened by the tragic loss we are now able to acknowledge and give thanks for his life.
Anzac Day is about remembering, reflecting on the courage and achievements of the diggers and honouring their sacrifice. Similarly, we use the anniversary of Adam’s death to remember our son and to honour him. As we look with ‘a gentler eye’ we see his quiet determination, his courage, and his commitment to those causes he was passionate about.
Dr. Sheila Clarke says,
“A person’s value does not die with them. Their influences and memories remain……………. The future influence of your loved one becomes the responsibility of those who were close to them in life.”
Mindful of Adam’s commitment to missions we have established the “Adam Rickard Memorial Fund” in association with Steer Corporation who use interest free loans to support mission and outreach work. We have requested that the funds generated from Adam’s account be directed towards supporting agencies working in the Asian region.