So Much To Remember
By Mike BowersApril 24, 2012
Images from a lifetime of wondering and wandering amid the Anzacs.
White cemeteries stood out against the fields; the silent cities, as Kipling called them, sped by the car window as little more than a light blur framed by green. I was small for a 10-year-old and had to stretch to get a full view. Northern France and Belgium contains about 900 cemeteries from the Great War; every few kilometres another would flash past. My father was pushing our little car, a 1964 Cortina, to its limits on a brand new motorway. Anything not held down firmly would savagely flutter around the cabin and get sucked out one of the four open windows.
"Your grandfather," he shouted over the wind noise, waving his hand vaguely on the right side of the car, "he fought here during the First World War." It was 1971 and we were racing across Northern France on our way back to England, where we lived at the time.
I don't think he intended to do it but nevertheless a seed was planted that summer day, and it has germinated into what some of my friends feel is an obsession. As I grew older the question I kept asking myself was, "What motivated this man to join up soon after the declaration of war and travel across the world to risk his life before it had really begun?"
Fast forward 40 years. I am standing in the dark of a bracing autumn, pre-dawn in the NSW town of Braidwood. The dawn service was still an hour away. My mind started to wander on the journey that brought me here, from those yelled few lines about my grandfather back in 1971. I have tried to understand his experiences through research and travel to many of the places where he served. I have been drawn back to The Dardanelles 11 times and the Western Front nine.
These pictures represent my favourite images from the past few years of my travels - the long shadow of Australia's great war. So much to remember.