It’s ANZAC Day in New Zealand, an occasion to reflect on the cost of war and to remember those who fought and lost their lives for their country. Here’s Sam Hunt reading James K. Baxter‘s “The Gunner’s Lament” – set in the Vietnam War – from his 2015 album “The 9th” recorded with David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights.

ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The NZ Army’s involvement in a losing campaign in a war on the other side of the world with terrible losses (almost 3,000 NZ soldiers died in the campaign, one 6th of the forces landing there) has now been given a nation-building significance in retrospect.

The ANZAC landing at Gallipoli is also the inspiration for two songs from P.J. Harvey’s “Let England Shake” album. “All and Everyone” and “The Colour of the Earth”  were inspired by writings published in the 1988 book “Voices of Gallipoli” by NZ author Maurice Shadbolt.

James K. Baxter’s father Archibald Baxter was a pacifist in the First World War, imprisoned in 1915 and eventually sent to the front-line for further punishment.

“They were subjected to repeated sentences of Field Punishment No. 1, part of which included what was known as ‘the crucifixion’. This involved being tied to a post in the open, with their hands bound tightly behind their backs and their knees and feet bound. They were held in this position for up to four hours a day in all weathers.”

Lest we forget.

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