Andrew Herrick; 26/4/10
We still have a weakness for backing our allies anywhere, any time. Too close to Anzac Day, I reluctantly follow my son into an army disposal store. There I watch him unearth World War II gas masks, Korean War shell casings, Vietnam-era ammo boxes and dusty desert camouflage nets. These castoffs of history, redolent of suffering, tragedy and triumph, rest lightly in my son’s small hands. Seeing him clad in jungle greens and slung with bandoliers, keen to head into battle with adrenalised glee, I can’t help thinking of my grandfather, who waded ashore at Suvla Bay with the Anzac 1st Division on April 26, 1915, aged 23. My father’s father, Wilfred Herrick, served as a signaller at Gallipoli for eight weeks until he was wounded. After recovering, Wil was sent to lay telephone wires through the mud of the Somme. He survived the battle of Villers-Bretonneux and returned to Australia suffering the effects of mustard gas. The damage was more than physical. Withdrawn and moody, Wil began to drink heavily. His young family endured the wrath of his inner demons until he died aged 44, when my father was nine.