Our next ride will be dedicated to the life and many achievements of Tim Fischer.
I have special reason for this...
I dedicated our 2016 and 2018 Tour de Front rides to 3 of my forebears, 2 of whom fought and were wounded on the Western Front: my English Grandfather Henry Jackson and my Aussie Gt Uncle Ernest McKinnon of the 31st Battalion AIF.
The other is my Gt Grandfather Major Henry Krone, OIC of Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) Artillery through the 1860s.
Major Krone's life played out well before WW1 but allow me to share some more about him:
Born to an émigré Central-European Jewish family living in London's East End, Henry sailed to Port Phillip on the news of the gold rush, along with his two brothers, future postmaster Alfred Lionel and pioneering masseur, hypnotist, magnetic healer and electric shock therapist Maurice (sometimes alias Professor Leslie).
Henry joined the Victorian Volunteer Force as a gunner in 1855 and did well both in military and civilian life in colonial Melbourne, rising to be Registrar-General. Major Henry Krone and General John Monash have some common ground. Both were among the first Jewish-born officers of Australian forces. Both were promoted through the ranks to became majors in the Victorian Volunteer Force artillery garrisons. Krone at South Melbourne, Monash at North Melbourne. Krone was a generation before Monash and never had to fight a war. He did have some discipline issues however and was in a mess room punch-up that made front page news in 1870 Melbourne. And we're glad he didn't go to NZ to fight the Maoris.
The late, great and very Honorable Tim Fischer, former Deputy PM, is also a descendant of my Gt Grandfather Major Krone (we discovered the family connection to Tim in 2014). Tim is the son of my 2nd cousin, Ralph Fischer. We had some longer generation-gaps on my side of the family!
Tim is also a former Lieutenant and wrote a book on General John Monash ('Maestro John Monash'), campaigning for his posthumous promotion to Field Marshall!
So it is fitting that we dedicate our next ride to Tim.
I was privileged to meet Tim a number of times and on the last occasion enjoyed most of an hour in March 2019 and bantered an idea for a 'National Hall of Shambles' that would be like a museum of major Aussie blunders (where we could all "learn from our mistakes")
Knowing Tim also liked chess, I'd been trying for a few years to get him to the board - I never did but he was chuffed when I found out we shared a first cousin (2-3 x removed), Antony Guest, who was a leading English master in the 1880s, playing against the world's greats.
I wore the slouch hat - as an army reservist for 4 years - with 4th Field Engineering Regiment (Gladesville) and 3rd Royal NSW Regiment (Wagga) in 1979-83. My service came to an end when our crusty CSM (who was 'Regular Army') insisted I get a discharge before travelling across China and the USSR on my way to Europe! There I cycle-toured Northern France and Belgium, my first encounters with WW1 Western Front sites.
I am proud to present the Tour du Front - however WW1 was all up an unbelievably horrific and senseless carnage of mostly shell-slinging.
Technically, warfare was changing: new machine-guns, new heavy artillery, new aircraft, new tanks, new gases, new subs, new ships and new mines.
New tinned food made feeding troops possible all year.
New reinforced concrete made stronger fortifications.
New motorised trucks, buses, train transport and ocean liners made it possible to move tens and hundreds of thousands of troops like never before.
New communications made co-ordination easier.
Many diseases that previously ravaged armies were understood and measures applied to prevent them.
However in September and October 1918 the Spanish flu wiped out so many troops in a few weeks to become one of the biggest killers. 50% of US Army deaths were from disease, 43% were through fighting (is being shelled 'fighting'?). All armies on the Western Front lost tens of thousands to the pandemic. Morale hit rock-bottom and already in retreat, Germany declared they'd had enough and it was all over.
But without the world-changing WW1, history would have followed another course.
For a final thought, without WW1 it's fair to say we'd all NOT be here today - the world would be populated by a different set of people!