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  • Today is ANZAC day, a day that commemorates the world war one battle at Gallipoli, where Australians supported British soldiers, fighting against the Turkish army, or Johnny Turks as the Australians called them.

    It is a public holiday and many Australians get up for a dawn service to remember those that died in war. Thousands of young Australians now journey to Gallipoli, in their gap year, to see what the place looks like, the place they learnt so much about at school, but were never quite sure where in the world it was. And like many places which have seen many deaths and great battles, they find that it looks almost too ordinary. But the stories bring it to life.

    The grandson of John Fowler, who had journeyed to Australia in 1856, went off to war at 17. The first of my ancestors to make it back to where they had come from. He seemed to be a feisty young man as he was reprimanded several times, even when he was injured in hospital. He spent a long cold winter in the mud on the western front and won the military medal for his bravery during the battle of Messines Ridge. A month later he was wounded badly, and lost an eye. Luckily in a way because it meant he made it home to become my grandfather.

    He is standing on the right of the man in the chair, with a cheeky grin. So young to have already seen so much of life and to have killed young men like himself. He never spoke about the war apparently. I barely knew him because I was very young when he died, but looking into his face now he looks a lot like my sister and my nephew, and I start to get a glimmer of who he might have been.
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