Lest we forget.
Australia is preparing to mark a significant landmark in our history – the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. It launched a 6-month campaign in the Dardanelles that saw more than 8-thousand Australian soldiers lose their lives.
For some the Gallipoli connection is a newspaper headline, a TV production or maybe a faded photo of a baby-faced soldier from a long time ago.
For others like Gold 104’s Craig Huggins, it’s a grandfather, who was very much part of his adult life.
Ernest Fredrick Huggins was just 19 years old when he answered the call of King and Country in August 1914, enlisting just weeks after the Declaration of War. As a member of the 1st Light Horse, he saw action in Gallipoli and France.
He lived to the Grand old age of 95 and was a huge part of Craig’s life. In 1990, on the eve of the 75th anniversary, Craig visited his grandfather and recorded some of his stories.
“He never really spoke to my Dad about the war and I thought he’d be reluctant to speak to me about it. I went in there with the angle of recording this to use on the radio and he opened up a bit. He didn’t talk about death and didn’t go too much into the blood and gore side of things, but he did tell me some amazing stories”.
“But he did say things like that it was terrible and if you looked up onto the cliffs, there was just gunfire and at night, the sparks from the gunfire looked like fireworks”.
He would start to talk about the horrible side of it and then he’d seem to check himself, but he told me a story about his time in Egypt and he said “I don’t know if we’d get away with this today’. And I said what was that Pa-Pa?
And he said “I remember we painted goal posts on one of the Pyramids and in the down-time, we’d have a game of footy”.
I have this image of him playing footy and having to the ball into a pyramid. And I said to him “what did you use, how did you paint the goal posts” and he said “Nugget” (boot polish).
Ern Huggins passed away in 1991 and remained quite active until the end. But he’s left a big gap in his grandson’s life. This Anzac Day, Craig will take the time to remember his “Pa-Pa”.
“It will be the first Saturday in a long time that I won’t be on air. The plan is to go to the local memorial and remember. It means a lot to me, but I’m not sure exactly what it is”.
“It’s not just my grandfather, it’s the supreme sacrifice that these people were willing to make – and many of them did – but the fact that they were willing to do it”.
Ernest Frederick Huggins was one of 420,000 Australians who enlisted to fight in the First World War. 60, 000 never came home and many have no known grave.
At Gallipoli, 8,709 Australians and 2,701 New Zealanders made the ultimate sacrifice for King and Country.
Lest We Forget.