My father, Lt. Col. Mervyn Roderick Jeanes was one of the most decorated WWII ANZAC soldiers, a Rat of Tobruk, Captain and company commander in 1941, and mentioned several times in dispatches for his bravery against the formidable Axis forces of Rommel. In New Guinea and then as Commander of the 2/43rd Battalion in Borneo he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross.
My dad never spoke of his experiences. It wasn’t the Australian way to speak of feelings, neither suffering nor victory. Nowadays, due to the unpopularity of war since Vietnam, soldiers are too often socially silenced. The legacy is a higher prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Untold stories allow associated problems to fester – increased alcoholism; higher risk of homelessness (an estimated 3000 veterans on the streets in Australia); suicide, rage, depression and like my father, premature death.
My dad survived and lived relatively well, but was somehow haunted by his soundless suffering, the effect as in so many families, a shadow over time. The undercurrents are hard to identify, but undeniably influence culture and society. Why else do so many young people now turn out to the Dawn Service on Anzac Day? Intuitively we know something needs to be honoured there, not glorifying of war, but something deeper.
I believe healing occurs through song, story and conversation. That’s why I have written this song for my dad and for other Anzacs. It’s too late for him but not for those living. Streets of Adelaide has already touched so many people with stories similar to mine.
Twenty perc cent of the proceeds from this song will go to Soldier On, an esteemed charity working to alleviate these issues for returned soldiers.
And you know, I too, never asked! Then it was too late.
Son’s Ode to an Anzac Hero –
Streets of Adelaide video & audio streaming: http://oldsoldier.com.au/home