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Showing posts from March, 2015

Easter in Poland

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In Poland I feel strongly surrounded by the atmosphere of religion particularly at Easter. During my first experience it was as though childhood religious feelings had burst upon me with renewed vigour. The haunting feeling of Christ in his sepulchre lay heavy in the air. Easter is one of the greatest Roman Catholic festivals in Poland. In the Kazimierz parish church on that Good Friday rivulets of 'blood' ran to the floor from the body of Christ twisted in agony on the cross. His tomb was guarded by a pair of weary firemen in brass helmets holding silver axes. Three nuns were fervently praying while others performed the Stations of the Cross. Candles had been overturned and crucifixes were lying flat. Outside the sun was setting behind an old wooden barn and trees containing the nests of jackdaws and rooks thrust into a reddening sky. This beautiful Parish Church built in 1610-13 was inscribed by the builder Jacobus Balin and is …

Gallipoli 100th Anniversary - 25th April 2015 'A Viking at Gallipoli' - The Diaries of Captain Nikolai Theodor Svensen of A Company 15th Battalion (Australia)

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I have always felt that the broad notion of 'allies betrayed' has bound Poles, Australians and New Zealanders together in spirit however complex and many-sided the actual historical truth. 
The husband of my great-aunt Lillian was the eccentric Lieutenant Nikolai Theodore Svensen ('Theo' to the family). Lililan was the sister of the subject of my recently completed biographical project, the forgotten Australian concert pianist Edward Cahill. She was also a fine pianist.

Originally from Norway (born in Larvik), Svensen emigrated to Australia and completed his schooling in Brisbane and became a survey draughtsman. Major N.T. Svensen (his final rank) was an incredibly eccentric yet highly talented gentleman. I use the word advisedly as he was descended from a distinguished Norwegian shipping and ship-building family who fell on hard times and emigrated to Australia when steamships supplanted sailing vessels. 

He first served in the Boer War with the 1st Queensland Mounted In…