*Pic: I suspect our father would have preferred this Balikpapan …
Balikpapan today ...
First published April 25
National media! ... please? Anzac Day is on today ... the 25th of April. It doesn’t run for the entire week beforehand. The clue is in the title ~ Anzac ‘Day’... it seems our drum-beating nationalism and jingoistic fervour has reached such a peak that it no longer fits into one day.
My family and I have as much reason to be reverential about Anzac Day as any other ~ possibly more.
Our father was an intelligence officer and spent a substantial part of WW2 behind enemy lines. For instance, he blew up the oilfields of Balikpapan before the 1st invasion wave hit the beach.
He then skirted round the action to come in with the second wave. Before that, he spent much of his time alone in the jungles of North Borneo, ‘seeing to’ Japanese units, assisted by Dyak headhunters.
His was not a pretty war.
He came back with a case of malaria that crippled him for years.
His only brother — uncle to my sister and I — never survived the Sandakan death march. His name was Alan. I was named after him.
Our father never marched on Anzac Day. Although he obviously performed acts of unimaginable bravery, he took no observable pride in them.
That is now for the family to do, however.
In remembrance of our father and Uncle Alan we will not be ‘observing’ Anzac Day.
We will not be draping ourselves in the flag and singing the national anthem.
Our father returned his medals, apparently. Years later, what we thought were his medals turned out to be his brother’s, found in the back of a drawer. Not all wounds are on the surface.
Above is a photo of our father’s handiwork. below that is a picture of Balikpapan today …
*Alan Taylor is a Tasmanian poet, artist, composer and philosopher ...