Posted by Jim on April 26, 2010
This year’s ANZAC day meant something a little different to me.
During a trip to Europe over Christmas, I visited the grave of my mother’s uncle who is buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Hospital Cemetery in Belgium. Lijssenthoek is several kilometres from the village of Poperinge, which was one of the rail staging posts for the Flanders campaign.
My great uncle is one of about 1,200 Australian soldiers buried in Lijssenthoek with some 12,000 other young men – who were in the prime of their life – beneath rows of identical headstones. His record on the Australian War Memorial web site reveals he died the day after being shot in the face and his abdomen. Ten days previously he had returned to the trenches after suffering from the Spanish Influenza. I have a letter written around the time he rejoined the front a few days before he died. The stress of being shelled was palpable as he signed off, noting that he had to go because of the barrage. He was barely 21 years old.by