Posted by: Gregoryno6 | April 25, 2012

25 April 2012: musings on the day.

I’ve been thinking over the last few days about that notorious play by Alan Seymour, The One Day Of The Year. I studied it at school in 1976, and at the time I thought it presented an honest view of ANZAC Day. Not that I would have had a damn clue one way or other; I must be one of a very small number of Australians who have no family connections whatever to the armed forces. The closest I’ve found were two distant cousins on my father’s side who fought in France during WWI.
The play casts ANZAC Day in a very poor light, an excuse mostly for old men to gamble and drink themselves sick – curiously, it was written in 1958, barely a decade after the end of WW2. Seymour may have caught the first scent of the antiwar movement and the moratorium that would rise up ten years later.
Today, however, I suspect the play is mostly a museum piece.
We have a new generation of soldiers returning from conflicts abroad. Also we have wider public interest in the day and what it represents. Australia in the 1950s was isolated: international travel was mostly by boat, and telephone calls abroad required an operator. The world today is a smaller place and we can no longer assume that distance keeps us safe.
Does anyone know of any recent productions of Seymour’s play? I found a reference to a Sydney Theatre Company production in 2003, but nothing after that.

 

 

The Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Unit has recently identified the remains of two members of Z Special Unit (more commonly known as Z Force) in Bomana War Cemetery in Port Moresby. Z is best known for Operation Jaywick, a commando raid which sank seven Japanese vessels in Singapore Harbour. The two men buried in Port Moresby were part of Operation Raven, sent to gain intelligence about American airmen lost on the island of Sulawesi (Celebes).

Private John Whitworth was captured and executed by the enemy. Lieutenant Scobell McFerran-Rogers died in a firefight.

Click on the image to a longer item about Private Whitworth.

 

Lieutenant Scobell Mcferran-Rogers

A detailed description of Operation Raven can be found here.

Unrecovered War Casualties has also successfully identified nine more Diggers from a mass grave outside Fromelles, in France.

The work of this unit was recognised in this year’s Australia Day awards. Congratulations, Major Kerr.

 

The photo above and at the top of the article show Perth’s principal War Memorial in Kings Park. The memorial overlooks the city (just visible through the trees on the left) and the Swan River, with the Darling Ranges away in the distance. I lived across the road from Kings Park for a while and the memorial was a regular place to stop when I walked through there into the city. Click on both pictures to see their sources; the night shot was taken by local photographer Behram Cooper.

 

 

Lest We Forget.


Responses

  1. An interesting story, Greg. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading, Lorrie. There was an extremely crap movie – no other way to describe it – made about Z Force a long time ago. I doubt you’d even find it in the bargain bin today, even if you dug to the bottom.
      The work of the UWC would make a great documentary and I’d like to think that someone in the Army has already had that idea.


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