November 11, 2014 - Phil Hodgen

My grandfather on a camel (1917)

He is the one on the right.  This is 1917 and he was one of the many New Zealanders headed to Gallipoli.  The ANZACs sailed through the Suez Canal on their way to the war and had a bit of last-minute fun before seeing combat.  

My grandfather survived Gallipoli and was sent to the trenches in Western Europe. Again, fortune and (relatively) minor wounds meant he spent time in hospitals and away from combat.

November 11 was always Armistice Day when I was a boy.  Not Veteran’s Day.  Not Remembrance Day.  Armistice Day.

World War I seemed so close then.  Even the Boer War was within reach—in the 1960’s you could meet people in South Africa (where we lived) who had direct experience with the Boer War.  And they were still bitter. 🙂 Now these wars are fading into myth. 

But the really odd experience in my life is the experience of having lived in a country that no longer exists, in a culture that lives only in the memory of a few hundred thousand people.  Rhodesia in the 1960’s.  That life has been utterly obliterated, except in memory.

Grandfather on a camel