War is futile

Every year ANZAC day comes along, I hear of increasing numbers honouring our forefathers who summoned more than was ever expected to keep their country and future generations safe.

I presume this is why they “signed up”, but all is after all relative to cultural belief’s at the time. I do suspect many sought adventure.

All around Otago at least by the side of the road, and often under the shade of an oak tree those who never came back are remembered…
Dad 13

And in remote cemeteries I’m reminded too, and there is the occasional headstone of a soldier too among the rock and tussocks they called home, but I presume most were buried near where they fell…
Dad 14

I was in Glenorchy a few weeks ago and took some time to ponder on one of many many memorials in New Zealand, this one right beside the cafe – he looks so young…
Dad 5

I was struck by the attrition rate of what has always been a small community, and the impact at the time and for generations afterwards…
Dad 7

But do we really think enough on the lessons to be learnt, or just crowd the memorial with what we think we need in “our” lives…
Dad 6

We’ve just had the Warbirds Over Wanaka bi-annual airshow – do we think enough about why single engine fighter planes were built? Yes, they did defend us, but they were made to kill people too! Do we think much about the use of the word “Warbirds” or just go along with a good day out in the sun, where fighting is even re-enacted!

At least planes like this have been used for years since on humanitarian work…
Dad 3

My dad Norrie was away for nearly seven years after this photo was taken with his mum Elizabeth. I see an innocence in his eyes here, that I never experienced while being bought up and loved by him…

I think Egypt may have been a lot of fun with his mates, but not Italy and Monte Casino where they all died and he was wounded…
Dad 2

I’d say the physical wound was a mere trifle compared to the emotional and spiritual ones!

Memories become misty, and we all live with them…
Dad 10

In the weeks before his passing in the 80s I witnessed many of his in the most stark fashion: cancer cells were growing in his brain, and as I’d sit by his bedside, he’d often start panicking about machine gun armed Germans dressed in black on the rooftop of the house next door – in Oamaru!

I came to understand that all our realities are true, because I could with my own eyes see how true his were to him!

And as for Norrie in his youth: well his dad Sandy went to the Boer War. He stayed awhile in Africa too, and we don’t know why – a woman maybe.

The Kurow community bought him a horse to take with him. Yes, he did come back; horse, golden watch chain, medals and all, and Kurow celebrated.

But he died when Norrie and his brother Jim were barely teenagers. I’d surmise that war shortened his allotted years, and he too was scarred inwardly.

Did Norrie my dad learn “I don’t want to talk about the war Donald” when I was young, from his dad!?

So granddad Sandy headed to Forbury Park in Dunedin to train prior to going…
Dad 21

We know he’s in one or more of these photos, but we don’t know which soldier he is!
Dad 20

Dad 4

Dad 22

I note this year three New Zealand soldiers have died in Afghanistan along with countless other young men. To what avail! Things are still the same – war is crazy!

We have to raise consciousness… stop accepting programmes in TV that glorify the negativity, death and suffering.

We have to keep on remembering what ANZAC day is all about, and become stronger at this – not fighting!

Dad 11

Many thanks to my lovely cousin Deirdre Lousley/Sisson for sharing the hours of research behind finding the above photos.

Maybe one of you, dear readers could hazard a guess as to which soldier is our grandfather!

My good friend Bob McKerrow has also done a done a great ANZAC Day post

Autumn, Easter, War and ANZAC

As a landscape photography subject I find autumn very challenging, so this year instead of the obvious photos I’ve made in the past, I’ve been learning to “see” things a little differently.

Easter has given me some time to reflect on this, and also as ANZAC day falls in this time I’ve decided to visit the past for this post. To do so means examining just what Easter is all about too: the seemingly indisputable death of Jesus and his rising from the dead.

So as I compose here I’ve realised it is a three theme post. A trinity if you like!

Generally this shot typifies how I’ve framed the subject of autumn in the past…

My dad grew up in this sort of landscape above, and I knew that he loved it dearly. But here he is in another setting though – he’s the one on the left holding the glass [beer I assume as it was always his favourite]…

This is a bit of a grim story so I want to intersperse it with some of the colours we all love [my “new” way of seeing autumn]…

Dad was a trained butcher, and I think this looks like him doing some work on dressing a cattle beast – on the back of the photo it says: “Before Florance”…


Africa may have been a lot of fun with his mates as above, but at Cassino in Italy he was the only survivor among them, and was wounded while in a railway station, during an engagement with a Tiger tank. I’m not sure if it was before or after this photo ‘tho, probably afterwards. “26 & 27 Batt”…

He never wanted to talk much about the war, but as a kid I found these photos in the garden shed, and over the years he did drop the odd comment. “Cassino from the Front”…

There was one story that has stuck in my mind: it was how he described taking a day off of killing with the Germans to bury the dead. I was amazed on scanning this photo an hour ago to see, on enlarging, at least one person in this one, and possibly 3-4, and towards the right there seems to be someone carrying a body. “Cassino from the side”…


Somewhere in Italy. It says on the back of the photo: “tank knocked out by our Corp”

It seems as I upload these photos that the world back then had no colour, but it must have had, yet there is no evidence in the aged photos above


“The way to Venice” – these people seem happy and I wonder why – did they feel “liberated”…


Many never came back, and then as now we use the cross as a symbol [that has such a link to our definition of Easter!], to remember them. “NZ Graves Sora”…

Sometimes the veil between different times or worlds seems very thin, and for myself it often shimmers…

So today we honour what our father’s did. But in that knocked out tank as above, and in all the rubble there were other people too! The son’s of other mums and dads.

It’s complex even now, as we have the benefit of hindsight, to know the right or wrong of it all. The American Civil War seemed a clear cut “wrong” in that had it been avoided, the same outcome, sans the horrific loss of life, may have been achieved with the passage of a few years.

As I ponder this I’m reminded of the stunning example the Dalai Lama sets, as we continue to marvel at his love and patience, whereas he could have easily taken his people to war too!