• Good Friday, 1915

    Thursday 2 April 2015 by Alison Wishart. 2 comments

    Soldiers and civilians outside a burnt out building in Esbekiah Street, Cairo. April 1915.

    One hundred years ago, in 1915, Good Friday fell on 2 April. While their families were going to church and preparing fish dinners, the Anzacs stationed in training camps near Cairo, Egypt, went on a rampage. The 'Battle of Wazza' took place in Cairo's red light district. Parts of Derb el Wasa and Haret el Wasser(known affectionately as 'The Wozzer', Wassir, Wasser, Wassar etc.) were gutted. Soldiers…

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  • Anzac Christmas hampers

    Tuesday 23 December 2014 by Alison Wishart. 8 comments

    Women distribute Christmas billies to men in Cairo, Egypt, December 1915. Driver Jack (John) O. McKenzie, from the 20th Australian Army Service Corps (AASC), recalls: `Every one was delighted to get one. The one I received was from two Melbourne girls. They distributed over five thousand in our camp amp; as far as I know every soldier in Egypt got one.

    Perhaps you’ve packed, compiled or received a Christmas hamper full of goodies in the last few days. About this time 99 years ago, the Anzacs who had evacuated from Gallipoli were eagerly awaiting their Christmas hampers. Women distribute Christmas billies to men in Cairo, Egypt, December 1915. Driver Jack (John) O. McKenzie, from the 20th Australian Army Service Corps (AASC), recalls: `Every one …

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  • How best to remember someone?

    Tuesday 23 December 2014 by Alison Wishart. 5 comments

    A collection compiled by Maude Edmondson and donated to the Australian War Memorial

    How best to remember someone? In the past, when someone died, some people created scrap books or dossiers as a way of working through their grief and gathering together all the memorabilia. This is what Maude Edmondson did when her son died at Tobruk in 1941, in an action for which he received a Victoria Cross. A collection compiled by Maude Edmondson after the death of her son, donated to the Australian War Memorial. How are loved ones who have…

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 27

    Monday 7 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Tigger and a purple monkey cling to the medical flagpole at AMAB

    Day 27: Under her wings Our one hour flight from Bahrain to Dubai turned into an 11 hour endurance test. After spending most of the night in the air waiting for a freak cyclone to ease and in the Bahrain transit lounge, we finally made it back to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base) safely. Rain is rare in the Middle East, but it has rained in every place we have visited. We seem to be taking it with us. I wonder if it will be raining in Canberra when we …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 28

    Monday 7 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Vanilla slice

    Day 28: Decompression My room mate said to me at 9pm last night: "I feel like I should be doing something, that I should be working! I'm allfidgetyand I can't sit still". She keeps checking her right hip for her pistol and her left hip for her military ID that she had to carry at all times on base. She has just returned to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base) after spending six busy months working on logistics in Kabul. She worked 12 hour days that were …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 29

    Monday 7 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Discarded, dusty boots at AMAB

    Day 29: homecoming rituals Today was our final day in the MEAO (Middle East Area of Operations) - tomorrow we start the trek home on a chartered A340. One of the homecoming rituals is sorting through your kit and cleaning off the dust of Afghanistan. The laundry whirs as people wash and scrub everything so that it will pass the quarantine inspection. Some boots are too down-trodden to be taken home. Discarded, dusty boots at AMAB Another RTA …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 25

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Interviewing Danica in my bedroom in Bahrain

    Day 25 - Spooks Danica is a naval intelligence officer. She sniffs out interesting information from a variety of sources and pieces together scenarios. Most of the scenarios involve the possible shipment of drugs from Pakistan along the "hash highway" or the "smack track" to the east African coast. Opium is grown in Afghanistan, processed into heroin in Pakistan and then shipped on small fishing vessels to Tanzania and Kenya where custom control …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 23

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Wooden boats that take about 25 people across Dubai Creek

    Day 23: 1971 After work today, we left the military camp on the moon (aka AMAB, see day 4) and caught the “RR” (Rest and Recreation) bus into Dubai. We went to the old part of the city – Deira, and wandered through the old souk (markets). Before I’d managed to glance at the colourful fabrics and spices, the stall holders were putting pashminas around my shoulders and handbags in my path. I felt I was swotting them away like flies. The …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 26

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Archways in the fort leading to the inner courtyard.

    Day 26 - Battle watch We had a few spare hours before our flight departed Bahrain today, so G3 and I went to an old fort. I was particularly pleased to get away from our accommodation, as I felt like I was under house-arrest. Not being able to leave the house without a male escort was stifling (see day 24). Archways in the fort leading to the inner courtyard. The Qal’at Al Bahrain dates to around 2250 BCE. It is on a man-made hill at a …

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  • Deploying to the MEAO - Day 24

    Thursday 3 April 2014 by Alison Wishart.

    Cranes reach skywards

    Day 24: Bahrain We arrived in Bahrain today. This is my third country and my fourth currency (Emirati Dirham, Euros on the ISAF base in Kabul, US dollars on the multinational base in Tarin Kot and Bahraini Dinar) - I think it’s time for the Arab equivalent of the Euro. Bahrainis an island nation, a kingdom and a city-state. It is ruled by the minority Sunni Muslims and the majority Shia Muslims are, understandably, not happy about this. We had …

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