ANZAC DAY: finding family and finding myself

ANZAC day, or April 25th, is one of those days where pictures speak louder than words.

On January 9th 2013, I found my Great Great Uncle’s grave in Cerisy, France.
My solo Eurotrip which birthed Politics in Kicks later the same year.

A day that had profound impact on my life.

This is my story.


Sargent Michael J. Phelan was killed in action, August 18th, 1918. Less than 12 weeks before the Great War ended.

I found him by accident by googling his name.

He is on the Roll of Honour at Canberra War Memorial:


I found out tonight, through googling his name, He was killed by a shell as he stood up to check on his men after the one exploded near them.
He died instantly.

I could hardly read this through my tears.






The French remember them beautifully.


No one in my family ever knew what happened to Michael before I went looking. If he was a name on a wall, or even had a grave at all.
I found him.
It wasn’t a euphoric moment, but one that overwhelmed me.
My eyes glass over as I type.

Pictured: Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery, Michael’s grave is on the row at the back, far right, perpendicular to the graves in the foreground

Michael is resting peacefully with his friends under watchful, loving eyes in Cerisy, France.

Pictured: Hill 106 just outside of Villers-Bretanoux, France

Sergeant Michael Phelan is one of three members of my extended family to serve Australia in War. His brother Lionel was a light horseman in Palestine, he survived the War but never spoke of it. My Great Grandfather, Thomas Burgiss served in the Boer War at the beginning of the 20th Century. I will wear his medal tomorrow at the Kings Park Dawn Service.

Lest we Forget.


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