We've had some pretty wild weather lately and travelling home through some heavy downpours, we decided to take time out in the town of Yass in southern NSW. It was a great opportunity to seek out a story. We headed first to the Tourist Centre, had a bit of a walk around town and then hunkered down in the local library for a while. Here's the story we discovered.
I remember being gripped when I first read Trooper Ion Idriess’ first hand accounts of the Light Horse in the Sinai desert in World War One. You can feel the breath of bullets sheering the emu feathers from his slouch hat as he and his mates galloped away under the rifle fire of the Turks. It was stirring stuff for a young bloke to absorb!
But there were mentions of something intriguing that happened to those young Australians on the long draining rides between battles. The hooves of their horses were kicking up the centuries of dust that covered adventures recorded in the Bible – in a very real sense they felt they were riding with the ghosts of Moses, Joshua and Caleb. The chaplains alongside the men became the storytellers bringing that history to life. Events that had remained locked inside a leather-bound book with gold-edging that belonged in church, suddenly became real.
Idriess told a very Australian story that happened when, led by amateur archaeologist Padre Maitland-Woods, the troopers carefully dug up the mosaic floor of an ancient church to ship back to Australia as a prize of war! The padre enthusiastically reported to the Army Records Division they’d also found the bones of a saint and got a request back asking for Trooper A. Saint’s dog tag as they had no record of him!
The Shellal mosaic is on display in the War Memorial in Canberra. It contains Jesus’ words ‘I am the True Vine’. I like to think of it as a tribute to the chaplains who brought the life of the True Vine to the young ANZAC’s. Chaplain David Garland was one of them and this is his story.
Last night the throb of Harley-Davidsons announced the Longriders had come to Dubbo. After meeting their club Chaplain in Uralla in March we invited them to visit if they came through Dubbo. We also figured they would have something in common with Bruno Efoti’s Tradies Insight group. It turns out they are both working to provide the kind of spaces where men in particular are comfortable enough to be themselves and talk out life issues. WATCH as Paul chats with Padre Matt about their experience.
Join The Outback Historian, Paul Roe, on an unforgettable journey into Australia's Past as he follows the footprints of the Master Storyteller and uncovers unknown treasures of the nation.