ANZAC Day: a time to remember loved ones lost

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ON ANZAC Day, senior correspondent Barry Everingham recounts the grief caused by the tragic loss of his brother, NX73975, Private Henry Raymond Everingham, in a Japanese POW camp in Singapore.

Having been absolutely humiliated by being made a total fool for falling for The Guardian newspaper’s recent spoof — I would have thought David Flint might have retreated to his Bondi Beach flat to leaf through his picture books of the Queen as a child.

But no, here he is on Anzac Day in one breath calling for everyone to respect the day and not be political or divisive — then in his next breath, this preening fool regurgitates Ray Martin’s previous plea for a change to the Australian flag. I would have thought it was the right of every Australian to say what he or she likes an any day of the week – Anzac Day or not – but Flint displays his total lack  of understanding of the Australian psyche; freedom of speech. It must have been those early days in Indonesia.

So, on this Anzac Day let me get a bit personal.

I too want the flag changed. I want the flag of a foreign country removed from the corner of my country’s flag. I want my flag to be unambiguously Australian — something it just can’t be in its present design.

NX73975, Private Henry Raymond Everingham

Now, what Flint knows about the thoughts of Australians servicemen and women who fought and served under the present flag escapes me.

I wonder…does he have siblings or uncle or aunts who fall into that category?

Changi POW camp POWs endured horrendous conditions

Well, I happen to qualify in all those categories.

A father and three uncles who served, a great aunt who drove ambulances in London during the blitz and, very close to home, my brother died — rotted to death in a Japanese POW camp in Singapore.

A boy of 19, he arrived in Singapore a few days before we capitulated to the Japanese Imperial Forces.

NX73975, Private Henry Raymond Everingham died of meningitis on May 28, 1943 — far from home, far from our parents tender loving care—who incidentally weren’t told their son had died until three months after the war had finished.

Let me recount an incident that is locked in my mind and will be there forever.

One morning, our mother said the following while we were having breakfast:

“I had a vivid dream last night. Ray was calling for me and in my sleep I went to his room and woke up shaking his bed.”

Our dad said to her, “well, write down the date and we’ll ask him does it mean anything to him when he comes home”.

The date?

May 28th 1943.

Fast forward several years. I was working for the ABC and on seeing my name,  a studio supervisor asked me if I had any relatives in Changi POW Camp. I replied, “yes, my brother, Ray”.

As tears welled in his eyes he said, “my God, he died in my arms calling for your mother”.

Now for the benefit of the likes of David Flint, I’d say  I’m sure the last thing which would have been on Ray’s mind was his pride for the Australian flag—all he wanted as his young  life ebbed away was the comfort of being held in our Mum’s arms.

So, to David Flint I’d say — get a life; an Australian version of life, not the polyglot unrecognisable mishmash you carry around now.

Oh, and by the way Professor.

My informant from deep inside ACM wrote to me last night and revealed that there are only 12 “members” of ACM who are eligible to vote and they include you and the failed priest, Tom Flynn.

So, please don’t go on about democracy, mate.

On this Anzac Day 2011, I wouldn’t want to spoil Flint’s or Flynn’s fantasies by repeating what my informant had to say about the egregious pair.  
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