Anzac Parade 2009


Joined May 2008

  • Artist

Artist's Description

I marched on this Anzac day for my grandfather & his mates, he was lucky, he returned from the “War to end all Wars” His mates didn’t.
August 1944, It was a perfect summer of warm, sunny days, with the seaside resorts crowded and few people worrying overmuch about the ominous war-cloud hanging over Europe. My Grandfather was holidaying with two of his mates in a horse drawn caravan, Gipsy style. They had camped on my Grandmothers farm lands at Gayton on the Wirral, Cheshire. Grandpa had told my grandma they may as well get married as if he did not return from the war she would be able to claim a widow’s pension.
They all joined the Liverpool Rifles together, 10th August 1914 My Grandfathers service number as stamped on his medals is 1868 Pte J Baker, joining the same regiment less than 50 men later was the Great War Diary Writer, Novelist & Naturalist Norman Ellison 2017. My grandfather spoke little of the horrors of war, I now know why and am indebted to Norman Ellison for keeping such an account of his enlistment, it is without doubt that my Grandfather was at the exact same places as Norman and his account has left me with nearly every gap of my grandfathers horrific time in Europe filled in.
Feb 1915 saw them en-route to Ypres, Ypres where on every night men were killed “One shell killed thirty one night, and their bodies lay strewn, headless and limbless, at the corner of the Grande Place…many men were buried alive under masses of masonry when they had been sleeping in cellars”
“You could never find such a forbidding place”
29 April 1915 Grandpa was admitted to No 10 Stationary Hospital (Australian manned) at St Omer with Influenza, discharged back to duty 16 May 1915. By August 1915 Grandpa was in the Somme, a green and unspoilt countryside as the battles had not yet started, then they all moved again to Arras, the battle of Arras had the highest daily rate of casualties, 4,076 a day!!! Higher than the Somme, Passchendaele and the Final Offensive. Frightening times.
Grandpa was later transferred to 165 Brigade Machine Gun Company and for some strange reason was given a new service number 24446 (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) He was discharged 14/12/1918
Norman and my Grandfather James Baker survived the horrors.
The book Norman Ellison wrote is called Remembrances of Hell ISBN 1-85310-896-0

Nick Ryan

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