I hope this newsletter finds you well.
For the first time in history, Anzac Day services across the country have been cancelled due to Covid-19. However, because public services aren’t able to take place, doesn’t mean the tradition of remembering our veterans should be cancelled too. The New Zealand Defence Force and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association are hosting a virtual commemoration for New Zealanders Worldwide to take a moment to remember fallen servicemen. Commencing at 6 am, tune into RNZ National, or listen live on the internet for the official dawn service broadcast.
There is also the call from the RSA to ‘Stand at Dawn’. This means going to your letterbox if it is safe to do so, if not stand in your front door or window, and observe a minute’s silence at 6am on Anzac morning.
Remember too, the RSA has not been able to sell poppies this year. I have seen many different ideas for poppies – knitted, crocheted; a local school made them from egg cartons! Check out my Facebook for those ideas https://www.facebook.com/honannetolley/poppies
The iconic Anzac biscuit was initially a hard long-keeping biscuit sent across the sea to the soldiers serving, by the women holding the home together. They were known as ‘Soldiers Biscuits.’
This is a basic recipe for the kiwi treat – a chewy, moderately sweet version of the biscuit. You can add dried fruit or spices such as ginger for variation (although people have told me this is ‘unthinkable’!)
Melt 115g of butter and 1.5 tablespoons of golden syrup.
Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water.
Mix in 1 cup of rolled oats, 1 Cup of flour, 1 cup of desiccated coconut and ½ cup of sugar.
Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto baking paper, and bake at 180 degrees C until pale golden colour (about 15 minutes).
Allow to cool and enjoy!
As a variation, try dipping half the biscuit in melted chocolate!
For a twist on the classic biscuit, I came across this recipe in my stack of magazine cuttings (at least lockdown gives us time to tidy up all those little jobs!)
Anzac self-saucing pudding
1 ½ cups self-raising flour (or because it’s scarce 1 ½ cups plain flour and 3 tsp baking powder)
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup desiccated coconut
1 cup milk
1tsp vanilla essence
½ cup golden syrup
2 cups boiling water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Grease base and sides of 6-8 cup ovenproof dish.
Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter (100g) until the mixture resembles crumbs. Stir in the oats and coconut and make a well in the centre.
In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the milk, egg and vanilla, before gently stirring into the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter. Spread into the prepared dish.
Stir together the butter, golden syrup and boiling water until the butter melts. Pour carefully over the batter (I find if I pour it over a tablespoon held over the base it spreads it nicely without scouring out the batter).
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. The sponge rises to the top and the sauce floats deliciously underneath.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of cream.
Like many New Zealanders on ANZAC Day, I think about my two Grandfathers who both took up arms in the WW1 battles, in very different ways.
One was living in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and got bored with patrolling the South African border! Travelling to England he joined up with the NZ Army Service Corps. Why he chose New Zealand I don’t know, but of course, that meant he went to Gallipoli in one of the first waves of attack with the NZ Expeditionary Force as part of General Godley’s NZ and Australian Division. He was wounded, and sent back to a hospital in Egypt, only to be returned to service in Europe, like many others I’m sure! However, his injuries meant he then served as part of the catering staff and saw action at the Somme and all the European battles until the end of the war. He was sent back to New Zealand where he met my grandmother. He then escorted the German Count Felix Graf von Luckner (known as the Sea Devil who sank 14 Allied ships in the Atlantic and the Pacific) back to South Africa after the war so he could be repatriated to Germany, and then returned to New Zealand to marry my grandmother. The mustard gas eventually overwhelmed him and he died while I was a little girl.
My other grandfather joined the British Army. My grandmother always said he was part of the Territorials and had gone off to the Salisbury Plains for a weekend exercise when war was declared and he headed away to Europe from there. However, his age doesn’t match, nor can we find a Territorial medal or record. But he did go to the Somme, he was just 18 and was first a stretcher bearer which must have been a horrific introduction to war! I saw the High Woods where he saw action at the Somme, close by the New Zealand memorial, when I attended the 100 year Allied commemoration of the Somme on behalf of the New Zealand Government. I was so proud to wear a copy of my Grandfather’s medals and of the fact that both my grandfathers had endured and survived this dreadful start to WW1.
ANZAC day represents so much for our country, but it also has so many personal connections with men and women in our families who are long gone. It is a day to remember them and to honour them.
Don’t forget to regularly check www.covid19.govt.nz for the most up to date information. Be sure to stay safe, keep healthy and check in with your friends and family this week.
Lest We Forget.