25 April 2011 - Anzac Day Mass

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Anzac Day Mass
25 April 2011

In recent months I have read two books which both refer to the time when the original Anzac landing took place on 25 April 1915. The first book is written by a Catholic historian, Paul Johnson and it is a biography of Winston Churchill. It is well-known that Churchill was deeply involved in the decision for the Allied forces to attempt to make landing on the shores of Gallipoli. In an attempt to seize the Dardanelles, the narrow strip  was the key to access of the Sea of Marmara and Istanbul.  It was on the advice of Churchill that the Prime Minister of the time, Herbert Henry Asquith gave the order for the attack to take place.

For a number of reasons, the whole operation was a disaster, as we know, and it meant, for a time at least, that Churchill was excluded from the ministry. There were a number of consequences however, one of which was that Churchill had the first opportunity to take up painting, something that he enjoyed for the rest of his life. Moreover, he was a very good painter. In less than two years, he was back in the ministry where he was sorely needed, and through his influence, the tide began to turn in favour of the Allies. In one way, it was a Death and Resurrection experience for him.

The other book is the work of  Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, and it is the basis of the film which has gained such high recognition, the King’s Speech. Mark Logue is a grandson of Lionel Logue who was the Australian elocution teacher who provided such great support and assistance to King George VI who battled a speech problem all his life.

Lionel Logue was living in Perth when the First World War began. At that time, the population of Australia was around 5 million, but 416,809 men enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. It was after the War that Logue was able to assist a number of the soldiers who had been gassed, and he cured them from the speech problems which they had experienced. For them too, it was something of a Death and Resurrection experience.

On the day following the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, the theme of death and resurrection is still very much on our minds, and rightly so.