Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 13, 2012

Friday, 10 February 2012 – when all else fails, get out a book!

Another coolish start to the morning though the sun would soon make it’s presence felt –  not in a real hurry to get moving this morning, either physically or mentally. So much on hand to get done, and today for some reason, so little enthusiasm to make a start, even on last night’s dinner dishes which as usual have simply being left for my attention!. Don’t like to see things left undone, so matters of that kind are generally in order, and kept up to date.   But sometimes, one is left dwelling on the image of a 65 year old ‘house maid’, a taken for granted role by my fellow occupant!!   However,  let’s not dwell on the ‘moods’ of the morning!  I actually tried to read some poetry, over some breakfast cereal and a hot chocolate.

Rudyard Kipling – purchased his book in Ballarat the other day  as with this series of books, I’ve found the Introductory essays quite interesting, particularly in this case with a good summary of the poet and his works by George Orwell. While only ‘early days’ yet, I’m so far no over enthused by Kipling’s poetry, which perhaps because of  its relevance initially to life in India, I’m not really enjoying or getting much from. However, only read a few selections so far,  and he certainly did write some quite famous poetry and prose, and hopefully that is ahead of my reading. Similarly, with Alfred Lord Tennyson – had at look at what was his first published work [written for a prize as a student at Cambridge], called ‘Timbuctoo’ [1829] – six pages in length, but I as having difficulty reconciling the contents with my vague knowledge of the West African nation of Timbuctoo!  I think to understand the context of that poem, I really need to do some research about that country s it was in the early 1800s.  Not a good start to my early attempts to get away from a ‘low mood’ with some historic poetry!!

One book that I’m currently reading, and about one third of the way through, is Peter Fitzsimons’ ‘Tobruk’. Slow reading, but fascinating at the same time. From the Australian War Memorial site, we read that between April and August 1941 around 14,000 Australian soldiers were besieged in Tobruk by a German–Italian army commanded by General Erwin Rommel. The garrison, commanded by Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, consisted of the 9th Division (20th, 24th, and 26th Brigades), the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division, along with four regiments of British artillery and some Indian troops.  It was vital for the Allies’ defence of Egypt and the Suez Canal to hold the town with its harbour, as this forced the enemy to bring most of their supplies overland from the port of Tripoli, across 1500 km of desert, as well as diverting troops from their advance. Tobruk was subject to repeated ground assaults and almost constant shelling and bombing. The Nazi propagandist Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) derided the tenacious defenders as ‘rats’, a term that the Australian soldiers embraced as an ironic compliment.   The Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy provided the garrison’s link to the outside world, the so-called ‘Tobruk ferry’. These ships included the Australian destroyers Napier, Nizam, Stuart, Vendetta and Voyager. Losses comprised two destroyers, including HMAS Waterhen, three sloops, including HMAS Parramatta, and 21 smaller vessels.  Half the Australian garrison was relieved in August, the rest in September-October. However, 2/13 Battalion could not be evacuated and was still there when the siege was lifted on 10 December, the only unit present for the entire siege. Australian casualties were 559 killed, 2450 wounded, and 941 taken prisoner.

At the beginning of Chapter 9, this quotation appears, referring to former Australian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies:-    “Menzies saw Australia only as part of the larger British Empire. He could not envisage Australia without the Empire, and the defence of the Empire as a whole, and particularly it’s heart, Great Britain, could not in Menzies’ mind be completely separated from the defence of Australia. Though Menzies would push hard to obtain planes for Australia, he would not use his position to undermine basic British strategy if such a change would lay Britain open to greater risk. So British ministers found they could quickly abort Menzies’ claims for equipment for Australia by graphically describing the position in the mother country”  [by Australian historian, David Hay in ‘Menzies and Churchill at War: A Controversial New Account of the 141 Struggle for Power].

Further, from the introduction to Chapter 10, a somewhat different quotation:-  “I’m proud to be an Aussie, there’s something different about them. The Hun [Germans] fights with grim determination, the Tommies [English] fight by numbers, but the Aussies tear about like kids at a picnic, swearing and laughing the whole time. They knock some bastard, then lean against a rock and roll a cigarette…..” [written by a young Digger in Tobruk to his mother].

Later this afternoon, at Susie’s request, I delivered some things over to Goonawarra. Met James there – he’d apparently not long being back from Rosebud, where he had joined Shirley and the others on Sunday. That meant he had left his dog, Murphy, for the family to look after all weak, no doubt most of that responsibility placed on the shoulders of Nan Seipolt. That poor dog really doesn’t get much time allocated to it from it’s supposed master!

ODI cricket  today/tonight in Perth – Australia 231 defeated Sri Lanka 226

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