Finally I am feeling well enough and rested enough to update our web page on my latest trip.
I set off on the 5th Apr and arrived home on the 27th Apr (22 days) after a marathon trip around the Eastern States where I drove 5165 Kilometres.
During that trip I travelled to three States, visited 3 RSL Sub Branches in NSW, 39 RSL Sub Branches in Victoria, spoke at one Primary School and one Secondary College, marched in three ANZAC Day Parades, presented a bayonet to the Port Adelaide Football Club, spoke on the South Australian RSL Radio Show and visited the Melbourne Storm Football Club.
The visit to the Storm was the highlight of the trip.
I was proud to be invited by the Storm to toss the coin for the ANZAC Day Match, and privileged to be a guest in the Storm Corporate Box for the Game.
For those people who don’t know it, the Melbourne Storm is the only organisation in Australia who has commemorated the Battle of Pozieres for the last 5 years, with the ANZAC Day Game being played in their memory.
How do I feel after the trip and my efforts in the last two years to fund the Park in France?
Embarrassed and ashamed.
I set out to sell 7000 bricks Australia wide and to bring the story of the Men of Pozieres to the people of Australia for the Centenary.
Just looking at the Ex Service Community which has 1500 RSL Sub Branches in Australia and 250,000 Ex Service Members, along with 55,000 current serving Members, raising the money for the bricks from within the Ex Service Community should have been easy.
In two years I have only been able to sell 3200 bricks to date, and can’t seem to get anyone to care.
To the best of my knowledge the only State that commemorated the Battle of Pozieres for the Centenary was Victoria, and in the case of my own State, NSW, not only was the battle not commemorated by the RSL, but the RSL Executive even barred all Sub Branches in the State from supporting us.
Of the 1500 RSL Sub Branches in Australia, I was only able to get support from 74 Sub Branches, with 14 Sub Branches in NSW having individual Members support us, a total of 88 Sub Branches or 0.7%
If I can’t even get Ex Service Members to commemorate these Men or contribute towards protecting the land in which so many of these still lie, then I have failed in what I set out to do.
Last year I was honoured by the French Government with the award of the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (National Order of the Legion of Honour) for my efforts to commemorate the Men who fought at Pozieres and the work I have done for the Village.
As I was only able to get one State to Commemorate the Men, then I am not worthy of wearing the Medal as I failed the Men.
At the ANZAC Day Match I handed my Legion of Honour to the Melbourne Storm Club. They have done so much more to commemorate and honour these Men than I was able to do.
With my failure to get support from the RSL Sub Branches, Ex Service Members or current Serving Members I am also embarrassed to wear my own medals.
If I can’t get the level of support I need by the 23rd July, I will be putting my medals up for sale to the highest bidder on our Facebook page.
At this stage we will still have to sell our house to finish the project. If we had been able to sell the crosses used Pozieres for the Centenary, it would have put us in a position of only needing a second mortgage. Unfortunately, this was not to be.
I won’t give up at this stage though.
I will be going back on the road at the end of May and be away for about another two weeks.
My schedule will be posted on Facebook and this web page, and I would love to be able to catch up with our supporters who have helped us to get to the stage we are at, and who have remembered those Men.
Open Facebook link is https://www.facebook.com/pozieresremembrance/ and should you wish to join our closed Facebook page link is https://www.facebook.com/groups/191880644248073/?ref=bookmarks
Finally I have to apologise to the families of the Men who fought and died at Pozieres.
As a nobody, I wasn’t able to get these Men the recognition they deserved.
I failed these Men – but I will go on trying.
Should you wish to contact me personally my email address is mailto:email@example.com
Barry Gracey President
Pozieres Remembrance Assn. Inc. 1st May 2017