WW1: soldiers leave for the war in Europe
(A Frame family farewell at Dunedin Railway Station)
Janet Frame on the outbreak of the Second World War:
"Had I been a city, the shock of war would have torn apart all buildings, entombing the population, or as after a volcanic eruption there might have been an overflow of numbness, like lava, preserving all in a stone mask of stillness and silence. I had never felt so shocked, so unreal. I knew that war happened in history and in places far away, in other nations; that my father had ‘been to war’; that some of the stories I most loved featured young soldiers ‘on their way to the wars’ or wounded old soldiers coming ‘home from the wars’. I had relished Miss Lindsay’s reading of ‘Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington’ and the battles of the time of Arthur: ‘So all day long the noise of battle rolled . . .’ And year after year in the School Journal I had read:
In Flanders field the poppies blowIn the Anzac Commemoration at the Waitaki Boys’ High School Hall of Memories I had heard Mr Milner proclaiming the British Empire’s glorious deeds in battle and sung, feelingly, without translation of the scene into one of undue horror:
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below . . .
O Valiant Hearts, who to your glory cameI knew of the pacifist belief of Mother’s religion, that two of her brothers had been conscientious objectors in the First War and imprisoned for their refusal to kill. I tried to imagine the people I knew in Oamaru – the Walsh boys, the Easton boys, the Luxons, even Jack Dixon, becoming characters in this new story and with knapsack or kit bag setting out cheerfully for the war. I had honestly believed that the days of war were over."
Through dust of conflict and through the battle-flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the Land you loved . . .