The Australians commemorate their war dead on two days throughout the year. Like us they have a Remembrance Day on November 11 and last year I was privileged to attend the ceremony in Sydney at the Anzac Memorial.
The remembrance poppies in Australia are quite different to the ones we have in the UK. We were able to throw one of our British poppies into the memorial in remembrance of the Australian soldier, A E Ward, who has a Commonwealth War Grave in Darwen Cemetery.
While in Australia we had a trip to Canberra and visited the Australian War Memorial which is also a museum (www.awm.gov.au) where there is a wall of all Australians who have died in conflict around the world.
We located the name of A E Ward and placed a poppy by his name.
Australia and New Zealand also celebrate Anzac (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Day. In Australia it is their most important national day and a public holiday. It was started to commemorate the WW1 battle at Gallipoli in Turkey but now is for all Australians who have died in other military operations.
The day starts with a Dawn Service as there was a dawn landing at Gallipoli and there are marches by the Armed forces, Veterans and other uniformed organisations. Wreaths are placed on memorials and people wear sprigs of rosemary in their lapel.
Since the Friends of Darwen Cemetery started the Adopt a War Grave scheme in 2010, our Australian soldier’s grave has been tidied up ready to place poppies and rosemary on his grave on Anzac Day.
A E Ward (known as Ernest), who had been fighting in France, came on leave to visit relatives the Leach family in Darwen.
Sadly he caught the Spanish flu here and died and was buried with full military honors.
Although we have researched his life, so far we have been unable to find out how he was related to the Leach family.
Rosemary Jackson March 2012