The April Storytellers was once again an opportunity for the BBC to recognise the ANZAC spirit and memories of past wars. Janet Bagnall kindly volunteered to present the story relating back to her great-great-grandfather who came to Australia after the Crimean War.
In keeping with our theme Janet told the tale of early Australia – The Charge of the Light Brigade, hunts for Ned Kelly, a pub in northern Victoria and her family’s settling on the land in the Riverina all linking back to her great-great-grandfather Draper from the Crimean War.
Janet dedicated her presentation in memory of George Franki who assisted in the research and was such a presence in encouraging BBC members to find out about their ancestors’ military history. This year will be the first ANZAC Day we didn’t have George with us.
Thanks also to the members of the A Cappella group for coming to sing songs associated with wars. For a short time, George came and sang with the group when they first formed a few years ago and he came along when he could.
Janet set the scene by playing a recording of Peter Sculthorpe’s composition ‘Small Town’ which was inspired by a passage from the D H Lawrence book Kangaroo. It’s the description of the main street in a small country town, Thirroul. Like so many country towns, near the town centre there will be the cenotaph as a focus, with the names of those who served in the world wars and often also those who served in other wars Australia has fought in. The smaller the town the more obvious is the war memorial and quite often there will be the names of many members from the same family.
Janet showed several photographs including one of Alexander Winston Draper’s memorial at Nathalia, a small town in northern Victoria near Echuca. It was the first monument to be built in the main street (beside the big water tower) and honoured Janet’s great-great-uncle who died in the Boer War. Monuments to the First and Second World Wars were added near it subsequently. Continue reading