Market News: They Can Never Find Out

Double pleasure in this announcement. A story I published in an anthology a fair number of years ago has been picked up by Deadman’s Tome – their March to the Grave war-themed edition. Aside from seeing this story get a new lease on life, it is also great to share the TOC with Deborah Sheldon. This is a Texas publication, but it has two Aussies contributing to it.

Dead Mans Tome-March to the Grave Cover

Red Roses, White Flags, by Pete Clark
No Man’s Land, by David Wing
A Light Just Out of Range, by Gary L. Robbe
They Can Never Find Out, by Gerry Huntman
The Blue Light, by Phoebe Reeves-Murray
Across the White Desert, by Deborah Sheldon
Aftermath, by Christopher Pulo

Available now on Kindle, and soon in all good online print book stores.

Remembering Those Who Died In Conflict

Every 11th November, since I was very young, I pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives in conflicts. I usually become melancholy and reflective. It is important to me, as I am highly appreciative of those noble souls.

Perhaps not quite for the reasons that some share.

I am educated and I pride myself to be open minded and to research and think. I know that not all conflicts were noble in intent, and some were cynical beyond belief. I know the First World War, the bloodiest of all wars, was not about protecting one's borders, which was the intent of the allies during the Second World War. I know the Vietnam war was far from a benevolent exercise. This isn't what I am on about. I am talking about the 'diggers', as we Australians call the enlisted man and woman, the people who carry out the wishes of their country. In the First World War the common soldier and sailor saw the conflict in black and white terms and sacrificed horrendously. In the Second World War the Allies sacrificed to truly save their lands from conquest. It got muddier, murkier in later years, but the majority of enlisted and the conscripted didn't see it that way, by and large. They had a job to do. Most loved their countries.

So, in the vast majority of cases, our countrymen who perished in war died because they served their countries willingly, and with the noblest of intent. As an Australian, I know that many Australians and other nationals died in the Pacific Theatre to stop my country from being occupied and exploited.

That is why I pause. I didn't serve in the military and I did not at any stage of my life experience first hand war. But I hear the echoes of those who did, and they move me. So much more the sacrifice.

I offer a poem by the talented, tragically short-lived war poet, Wilfred Owen, who in fact died in combat a few days before Armistice Day.

Lest we forget!

       Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen

Market News: Raindrops In His Eyes

Very pleased to have an Evyntyde story, Raindrops In His Eyes, accepted in Static Movement's anthology, Dark Dispatches.

Also pleased because this is the second story accepted for the same anthology – also because this story is going to be quite a contrast in the anthology because it is fantasy, with a dark twist, while most stories (including my first acceptance, They Never Can Find Out), are horror war pieces.


Some Thoughts on ANZAC Day

For those of you who aren’t born and bred in Australia or New Zealand, or who aren’t familiar with the ANZAC history, this might be a confusing blog entry. Perhaps I should start with a very brief, and possibly too shallow, treatment.

Australia became a nation in 1901, and while the various states had already their own identity to some extent in the Nineteenth Century, we were a very young nation, and not born from struggle. New Zealand had a longer, cohesive history and became a dominion in 1907 – NZ too was a young nation. Ties to Britain and the Empire were profound. With the advent of WWI, just like the rest of the nations comprising Empires and confederacies, Australia and New Zealand joined in, and formed the ANZACs (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) and contributed valiantly to the war effort and suffered disproportionately high losses of life, in terms of population. This savage loss, and the continuing formation of nationhood, lifted the ANZACs into legend status, and it was further consolidated with the soldiers’ efforts in WWII. To respect those who paid the ‘ultimate price’, and to honour those who served and survived, ANZAC Day was conceived. On the 25th April 1915 a large expeditionary force landed in Gallipoli in Turkey as part of the war effort, which turned into an Allied Forces disaster of epic proportions. Nevertheless, the efforts by the ANZAC troops was truly heroic and sacrificial and in 1916 the 25th April was celebrated in remembrance of their efforts. Eventually, this turned into a public holiday, celebrated in Australia and New Zealand, as well as some other island nations, and a number of traditional practices, including a dawn ceremony, marches in the city and town streets, and the playing of a (normally banned) gambling game called Two Up.

The diggers (another name for troops, and often referring to the original ANZACs) are disappearing, and the marches are not as populated as they used to be, although not to a point where they are trending to nothing. New wars are fought and returned soldiers will often march on the 25th April, and with regard to the two Great conflicts, children and grandchildren (now adults) will march instead of their ancestors.

Hmm. I made this intro longer than I planned – but I realised on the fly that this isn’t a simple thing to describe. ANZAC Day is part of Australia and New Zealand’s psyche, although there are some rumblings of discontent – and in fact the taboo of questioning the sanctity of ANZAC Day can be traced back to the 1960s. I was reading a blog yesterday where a friend of mine, Sophie, was somewhat incensed by several strong comments that were anti-war, anti-ANZAC, etc. Without trying to oversimplify her point, but in essence she was saying that the young men who died in the theatres of war were not instruments of cynicism – they simply were lives snuffed out early, and many had noble intent.

This leads to my views. I find it fascinating that it is a human predilection to generalise, to simplify, in order to convey and clarify a point. Done well, it is a powerful tool; if done badly, it either is foolish or  turns into a malevolent form of propaganda. The irony is that some who feel there is no compromise on anti-war sentiment, will resort to distorted language and logic to try to make their points. Having said this, those who respect, and partake in the celebrations, can and will distort the history. For example, I cringe when I hear people talk about our ANZACs who sacrificed their lives for "your freedom" in both World Wars – not. At risk of being branded an oversimplifier myself, I see WWII as a war for one’s freedom, but WWI definitely was not – that was a positioning of cynical juggernaughts, and the Allies won.

Yes, war is cynical and often fraught with moral dilemmas, but back in the first half of the last century the typical Joe Bloggs from Adelaide, South Australia, didn’t understand all that stuff. They loved their Mother Country (England) and were strongly nationalistic. The propaganda machine had already been churning out stuff for years and it was easy to accuse the other party as being rapacious. These young men were vital and fit, and also felt there was glory in the battlefield, just as it was reinforced in the stories they read in "Boys Own Adventure" or any number of novels from the past. The glory was as much socialised into them as was their nationalism. The majority of them, if they survived the war at all, had very different views within weeks of their service in the battlefield.

I suppose what I am trying to lead to is that it is not wrong to view war as evil and cynical, but is it right to use that sledgehammer logic to slam the ANZAC tradition in its entirety? For me, when I watch those marches and hear the odd interview with a digger, I think about THEM, not the war itself. God knows that the old diggers – the original ANZACs, most long dead now, knew how wasteful WWI was – but that wasn’t the point. How could two sovereign nations institute a celebration of a military defeat? It was about sacrifice.

I’m not a rabid nationalist – but I am a proud Australian and I recognise how important ANZAC Day is – it is an important thread in the fabric of my nation’s psyche, and consequently, my own identity. I hate war and I intellectually know that WWI was one of the most wasteful losses of human life in history – with no cause other than power and positioning, and yet I shed a tear for those countless lives lost, all with the best of intent.

I intensely respect those who sacrificed their lives.

"Lest We Forget."