I’ve just returned from a very simple dedication of a Memorial on St Martin’s Quarantine Island in honour of the 5 New Zealand soldiers wrongfully executed in France and Belgium between 1916-1918. These men were probably all suffering from shellshock/post traumatic stress in today’s diagnostic terms. A special act of Parliament pardoned all 45 men in 2000 and in 2005 Helen Clark honoured their memory and issued them with their service medals. The families of these soldiers shot at dawn gathered with us and once again we remembered the stupidity of war and the way in which war machines on all sides not only slaughtered their enemies but also slaughtered their own to try and guarantee obedience and legitimate the madness all around. This memorial is a single Stake of the kind used to tie those who were about to be executed . The Memorial also has some imbedded tiles showing where the firing squads would have stood. It was a haunting reminder of the fact that there are no victors in war only victims.
We mourned the executions of Frank Hughes aged 28 Shot at Dawn Hallencourt France , John Sweeney 37 shot at Meaulte France, Jack Braithwaite, 35 shot at Rouen France, John King 32 shot at Steenwerck France, and Victor Spencer 21 shot at Mud Huts Belgium . We were privileged to have the famliy of Victor Spencer present. We had a lovely sharing and afternoon tea at the end of the ceremony at which many concerns were expressed about the way in which this Centennial of ANZAC day was being observed . We all recited the World Peace Prayer,
Lead me from death to life
From Falsehood to truth
Lead me from despair to hope
From fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to lobe
From war to peace
Let peace fill our hearts,
Our world, our universe.
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