A special shipment to France


Me and my Aussie mates have been bunched together for a while now, all straight and tall – funny that, we all look alike but we talk amongst ourselves.

We know previous friends have left the timber yard destined to adorn Australian family homes full of kids and laughter. We are happy for them but we know our future is going to be different, so we wait and wonder.

“Guys here comes a buyer with shining silver hair and he is inspecting us so look sharp and straight”

“Gosh he needs lots of bundles of us and did you hear him say he needs to make 7,000 WHAT??

All of us placed end to end measure three and a half kilometres.

We feel our future is going to be so far, far away over the sea as we are swept up for a short delivery to Mick’s back yard where we rest on the green lawn – only briefly though.  Here comes Mick with his measuring tape, drop saw and sets about cutting us neatly into smaller lengths – we now number 14,000 in fact.

Mick drills, glues and screws then adds a neat hole in our tummy region and this is a mystery to us.  We hear the process to prepare us will take about 9 months and many of us will be taken to Men’s Sheds and Mick’s brother, Bob’s shed far away to be worked on but we know in the end we will all be together again.

We can hear the important discussions taking place about us and the long and short of it is we are being handmade and twice coated and turned into beautiful snow white crosses and already we feel so honoured.  We have so many questions we hope will be answered.

Well the mystery hole at least is solved when a lady with knitting needles and bright red wool picks up one of us and places a beautifully knitted flower over our tummy hole.  We learn it is a Poppy and 7000 were knitted by so many wonderful Grandmothers, Mothers, and Daughters over a period of one whole year and will be secured to me and my 6,999 mates.

One Hundred Years ago in 1916 during, what we have heard, was The First World War, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of Northern France and Belgium. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground.

So we are going WHERE?

It is hard to remember the name of our final destination, we have never heard it mentioned before, but we believe it is The Village of POZIERES in an overseas country called France.

We are carefully packed into 33 very large cardboard cartons then loaded by a great Father and Son Courier Company and transported to a huge shipping depot where we are placed on pallets and shrink wrapped to keep us warm and cosy in a shipping container for our 5 week journey by ship, first to Singapore then across the world’s largest oceans to the French port of Le Havre for unloading.

Our journey by sea is only possible thanks to the very generous companies who donated their time and shared the huge cost involved in shipping us and managed many important documents, constantly checking on us. What a mammoth effort, to ensure we all arrived safely and are welcomed by the Mayor of Pozieres and placed in a warm barn awaiting the arrival in France of our friend Mick.

We are happy to be reunited with Mick who, with many helpers, will place us crosses and poppies in this special part of France where visitors will bow their heads and honour all those brave young Australian soldiers who fought in the Battle of Pozieres 23 July 1916  which lasted 6 weeks liberating this village of Pozieres from the German Enemy. Now we know the significance of 7000 crosses – that’s how many young Australians died in this part of the world and 4,112 of them have never been found. Mick and Bob’s Uncle Leonard was one of these brave soldiers who was never found.  He was only 20 years old and was killed in action on the first day of the battle.

For the first time in 100 years these Australians who rest with us in the fields have never had a cross to mark their bravery.  I have taken pride of place at the very tip of the design of the Australian Rising Sun hat badge in what is the first stage of Pozieres Memorial Park – all thanks to the generous donations by so many Australians and the vision of POZIERES REMEMBRANCE ASSOCIATION INC.
founder and President Mr Barry Gracey

Written by Lyn Lee

Cross & Poppy 2016