"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This post is out of sequence as Canberra was our last step of the trip but I wanted to get the photos up before Rememberance Day (Veterans Day) was too distant a memory.

As usual please click on photos to enbiggen.

This suitably sombre looking building is the National War Memorial it shares pride of place with Parlament House in Canberra as well as in the hearts of all Australians

From the steps of the War Memorial looking down the Avenue of Honour, across Lake Burley Griffen to the old and new Parlament houses.

Same view taken with telephoto lens.

A closer view of old Parlament House

A closer view of new Parlament House with Prime Minister Holt in the foreground, (we had a Prime Minister Harold Holt during the 1960's, I used to claim him as an uncle back then.)
Australia's 17th Prime Minister, Harold Holt was in office from 26 January 1966 to
19 December 1967, when he was officially pronounced dead after drowning at sea.

Back to the War Memorial... The wings on either side of this photo contains plaques bearing the names of all the Australian Service Men and Women who lost their lives in the conflicts we have been involved in

Alongside each name there is a small hole where a poppy (the symbol chosen to remember our fallen with)
can be placed by their loved ones

These flowers had been put up just a few days earlier on Remembrance Day 11/11/2008

As can be seen by the number of poppies a lot of people made the visit to honour their fallen.

One of my favourite displays is this haunting painting titled Midnight at Menin Gate, I apologise for the photo, I had to take it on this angle to avoid glare from the flash.
The story below may be of interest as it tells how the painting came to be done.

One Australian greatly affected by the dead of the Menin Gate was war artist Captain Will Longstaff. Longstaff, living in England at the time, attended the unveiling of the memorial and that night he claimed he was unable to sleep. Going down to the memorial, and walking there in the dark, he had a vision of the soldiers who had marched through the Menin Gate during the war on their way to the front line. This vision he transferred to a great canvas showing ghostly soldiers rising out of the ground in front of the Menin Gate and moving off towards the Menin Road, Hooge, Zonnebeke, Broodseinde and Passaschendaele. Reputedly he painted the scene in one session when still under the psychic influence of his vision. Another story is that he was influenced by an English lady who had lost sons in the war and who told him when they walked together in the evening that she could feel ‘her dead boys all around her’.

Menin Gate at Midnight, Will Longstaff, 1927. [oil on canvas, AWM ART09807]
The painting was an instant success and even scored a private viewing at Buckingham Palace by King George V and his family. Thereafter, following showings in major British cities, it was bought by English aristocrat, Lord Woolvington, and given to the Australian government and people. Shipped to Australia it was quickly added to the growing art collection of the proposed Australian War Memorial. In Australia, too, the ghostly figures of the Menin Gate struck a chord with more than one million Australians who came to share Longstaff’s vision in capital cities when the painting went on tour in 1928–29. Accompanying the painting was a large–scale model of the Menin Gate which had been presented to Australia by the memorial’s architect, Sir Reginald Bloomfield. The Australian High Commission in London had negotiated with the Imperial War Graves Commission for the model arguing that Australians were largely unable to visit the memorial itself:

Another of my favourite stories is about this man


kenju said...

Peter, these are very interesting photos. I especially like the one taken with the telephoto lens. That's quite a vista!!

Pamela said...

the painting is amazing.
(ps. I'd vote for that holtie)

Jeanette said...

Gday Peter, Pleased to hear you made it home safe and sound through that terrible storm.

Great photo's Prime minister Holt.

I like the long distanse shot fron the stairs, and the painting with the ghostly figures amazing...

Dave said...

What a beautiful, and moving post about Australia's finest fallen heroes.

Beautiful pictures and story Peter.
Thank you for sharing that.

Marcus said...

I enjoyed the history lesson Pop, just one error to correct, Great Uncle Harry was PM in the 60's, not the 50's.

I've been to the war memorial at least 4 times and never have enough time to take it all in. It is one of the most special/sacred sites in Australia.


Jack K. said...

Thanks for sharing this bit of Australian history.

The photos are fantastic.

I was particularly taken by the story of the Menin Gate painting.

Jamie Dawn said...

Nice photo of you!

The War Memorial is wonderful.
What a place!!
The wall of poppies is very touching.

Walker said...

The War Memorial is great.
We have one but its nothing like that but hold the same sentiment.
Its to bad we even have to have them but if we need those to defend us we need to honor their sacrifice.
Great pictures and I would check in on that priminister thing just to be sure.
You may be heir to something as long as its not the economy LOL