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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sydney Siege and Loss of Innocence by John Tognolini



In the tragic aftermath of the Sydney Siege in the Lindt Café. Our prime minister Tony Abbott, has called it “our brush with terrorism.” It was not terrorism but a criminal act by a lone gunman suffering from mental illness with a history of violence against women. Some in the media have compared it to the 9/11 attacks and the London Bombings, a few have called it Sydney’s loss of innocence.

With all due respect to the victims of siege at the Lindt Café, Sydney lost its innocence back in 1788 when the first boat people arrived in chains and British Crown raised its flag and took the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Peoples under the lie of Terra Nullius. It says a fair bit about Aboriginal People that amongst the moving floral tribute from thousands of people in Martin Place to Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson who were killed by Man Haron Monis, that a smoking ceremony took place to cleanse the area of bad spirits

Sunday, December 07, 2014

CONFRONTING ANZACKERY by Rowan Cahill


Brothers by John Tognolini is the first of a projected quartet of novellas dealing with the war experiences of four of Tognolini’s uncles during WW1, beginning with those of Stephen and Andrew Tognolini, working-class men in their early twenties, at Gallipoli. In many ways the book breaks from the dominant narrative enshrined in popular retellings of the Anzac/Gallipoli experience, beginning with the Tognolini brothers, city-industrial workers, not bushmen, and of Italian and English/Irish descent, not pure Anglos. Indeed, the Gallipoli of Tognolini’s account is peopled with ‘others’: the Allied invaders fighting the Turks are not just Australians and New Zealanders (ANZACS), but also British, French, Canadian Newfoundlanders, Canadians, British Indians (from the future India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), while in the Australian ranks are people of Aboriginal, Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian, West Indians descent--not only the pure Anglos who tend to people populist accounts.

http://radicalsydney.blogspot.com.au/p/radical-ruminations.html

Russell Crowe is Right About Gallipoli by John Tognolini

Russell Crowe said in an interview promoting his new film The Water Diviner, that Australia invaded a sovereign nation" at Gallipoli and that it was time to stop celebrating the mythology of the military campaign.

"I think we should be mature enough as a nation to take into account the story that the other blokes have to tell," he said.

"For all the heroism you want to talk about, you know, for me, a fundamentally more important conversation is the waste of life and these things should, you know, we shouldn't celebrate the parts of that mythology that shouldn't be celebrated."

He's right. That’s one reason why I wrote my historical novel Brothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915.
This is one part from my book about the Islamic truce took place at Gallipoli between Australian and Turkish soldiers.



"There were some rumours from intelligence officers that the Turks wanted to mark the Islamic sacrificial feast of Kuban Bayrami on October 19th with a general attack. At Courtney’s Post and Quinn’s Post an unofficial truce took place for thirty minutes.

Thomas, O’Brien, Sands, Smith and Carboni were trying to communicate with the Turks standing with them in no-man’s-land. 


O’Brien said, “Let give him some bully beef”.


Sands said, “Jim, it’s a truce, you don’t give them bully beef. So what if they’ve been trying to kill us, what have they done to deserve bully beef? That’s cruel.”


One of the Turks said, “We take, we try, you want coffee?”


“Yes, please”, said Sands.


Another Turk offered Smith olives. “Thank you”, said Smith.


Thomas asked the Turkish soldier who spoke English, “Why is there a truce today?”


“Kuban Bayrami, our Allah, God, yes”, the soldier replied. “We give the poor meat. It’s for when Abraham sacrificed a ram to Allah, God, instead of his boy, son, yes.”


“I had the nuns teach me that story, back in Collingwood.” said O’Brien.


“We want no war today. Take holiday.” said the Turk.


“We’re happy with that.” Thomas agreed.


The truce ended and they went back to their respective trenches. From the Turkish trench an open can of bully beef was thrown back and landed between O’Brien and Sands. 


“I told you not to give them the bully beef.” Sands said."


I’ve used the fiction style of a novel to convey the all-too-real historical events, conditions and characters in war, whether it be:

- the savage nature of the fighting and the major battles;

-that some senior Australian officers were just as good as their British counterparts at causing the slaughter of their own soldiers in futile charges against machine guns;

-that what little drinking water there was at Anzac Cove tasted of petrol from the cans it was carried in;

-that dysentery ran rampant, and that it and other illnesses took 1000 soldiers off the peninsula each week;

-that some of the Anzacs were of German, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, West Indian and Italian decent, some were Aboriginal and others were just mere boys;

-that some played two-up with two-headed coins and ran bets on what hymns or psalms would be used on church parades.

In this story I have attempted to show the horror of war for what it is. It has been my intent to show the hardship and suffering endured at Gallipoli. I had two uncles there, Stephen Tognolini, Military Medal and Bar, 21st Battalion and Andrew Tognolini, 24th Battalion. They would be joined by their two other brothers John/Jack Tognolini, 57th Battalion Military Medal and Henry/Harry Phillips 60th Battalion on the Western Front in France and Belgium.

John/Jack Tognolini was killed in action on 25th April 1918 at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in France. The army had his age as 24 years old. As he was born in 1900 he was either 16 or 17.

About the Front Cover

This photograph is of Sergeant Stephen Tognolini, (back) Military Medal and Bar and Corporal Sergeant Major George Campbell Hunt, (front) Distinguished Conduct Medal was taken on June 27th 1918 in Querrieu, France. It is part of a group photograph of the 21st Battalion’s Non-Commissioned Officers. Both served at Gallipoli. George Campbell Hunt was killed in the Battle of Hamel on July 4th 1918.

I will be writing three future volumes to Brothers dealing with the Western Front in the years 1916, 1917 and 1918.

John Tognolini 25th February 2014

Available from Writers and Ebookshttp://www.writersandebooks.com/bookshop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=92

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gallipoli horror detailed through brothers' tales:John Rainford's review of Brothers Part One:Gallipoli 1915


Brothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915
By John Tognolini
163pp $20 paperback, $5 ebook
www.writersandebooks.com

In the Junius Pamphlet, composed while she was in prison in 1915, Polish-born revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg wrote on the horror of World War I: “The flower of our mature and youthful strength, hundreds of thousands of whom were socialistically schooled in England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Russia, the product of decades of educational and agitational training, and other hundreds of thousands who could be won for socialism tomorrow, fall and moulder on the miserable battlefields.”

John Tognolini's book also takes us back to the year 1915 and the carnage at Gallipoli.

In December 1914, Grand Duke Nicholas, nephew of Tsar Alexander II and commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces, advised the Allies that Russia’s inability to equip its troops meant that it was incapable of carrying out any further offensive actions.

Under pressure from Turkey in the Caucasus, the Grand Duke appealed to Britain for assistance. He made the helpful suggestion that they could distract Turkey with an engagement in the eastern Mediterranean.

British Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener and first Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill rather approved of the idea, which was put into effect in the months that followed in Gallipoli.

Tognolini had two uncles at Gallipoli and he melds their story into the experience of many at
Gallipoli by using the fictional style of a novel to convey the horror of war.

We learn some things that we won find in conventional histories not just the smell of dead and rotting bodies but the distinctive smell of bodies from opposing sides.

The author sums up the campaign in one telling sentence: “Gallipoli has been nothing but bullshit and bollocks.”

This book is a welcome antidote to the nationalist and jingoistic approach taken by today’s major political parties who seek reflected glory in a past of which they seem to have little understanding.

 Green Left Weekly issue 1003

Saturday, March 29, 2014

No Glory - Remembering World War One in Music and Poetry-Four Man Films



As we head into another Anzac Day and 100th year since World War One started it worth to taking a look at this gathering in London last year. Also check out the No Glory website at this gathering Billy Bragg performed who has recentally toured Australia and spoke at the Sydney March in March rally.

John Tognolini 29-3-14

No Glory - Remembering World War One in Music and Poetry  (click on the link to see the video on Youtube )St James's Church Piccadilly London 25 October 2013 Produced for No Glory in War by Jan Woolf

Part one:
Welcome and introduction - Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition
John Landor conducts i Maestri and solo violin George Hlawiczka, The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Kika Markham reads Last Post by Carol Ann Duffy and A War Film by Teresa Hooley
Elvis McGonagall reads Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen and Matey by Patrick MacGill
Music from Sally Davies, Matthew Crampton, Abbie Coppard and Tim Coppard
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Elvis McGonagall

Part two:


Kate Hudson chair of CND
Music from Sally Davies, Matthew Crampton, Abbie Coppard and Tim Coppard

Matthew Crampton reads My Dad and My Uncle by Heathcote Williams
Kika and Jehane Markham
Billy Bragg


Filmed by Four Man Films

Brothers Part One: Gallipoli 1915 by John Tognolini

 
I’ve used the fiction style of a novel to convey the all-too-real historical events, conditions and characters in war, whether it be:

- the savage nature of the fighting and the major battles;

-that some senior Australian officers were just as good as their British counterparts at causing the slaughter of their own soldiers in futile charges against machine guns;

 -that what little drinking water there was at Anzac Cove tasted of petrol from the cans it was carried in;
 
-that dysentery ran rampant, and that it and other illnesses took 1000 soldiers off the peninsula each week;

-that some of the Anzacs were of German, Japanese, Chinese, Polish, West Indian and Italian decent, some were Aboriginal and others were just mere boys;

-that some played two-up with two-headed coins and ran bets on what hymns or psalms would be used on church parades.

 In this story I have attempted to show the horror of war for what it is. It has been my intent to show the hardship and suffering endured at Gallipoli. I had two uncles there, Stephen Tognolini, Military Medal and Bar, 21st Battalion and Andrew Tognolini, 24th Battalion. They would be joined by their two other brothers John/Jack Tognolini, 57th Battalion Military Medal and Henry/Harry Phillips 60th  Battalion on the Western Front in France and Belgium.

John/Jack Tognolini was killed in action on 25th April 1918 at the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in France. The army had his age as 24 years old. As he was born in 1900 he was either 16 or 17.

I will be writing three future volumes to Brothers dealing with the Western Front in the years 1916, 1917 and 1918.
 
John Tognolini  

Available from WritersandeBooks  paperback $20 eboook $5

Sunday, January 12, 2014

History Wars Australia 2014 by John Tognolini


 
Christopher Pyne has fired the first barrage of current History War at the National History Curriculum which I actually like. There is however, the whole thing of the Hundred Year Anniversary of the start of World War One, Pyne and Abbott want a Celebration not Commemoration. I don’t mind the latter but don’t expect to see it. 
 
 
Robin Prior in the

Guardian launched his own attack on critics of a war that left 37,000,000 people dead across the planet and sowed the seeds for another global conflict. Prior wrote of the commanding British General Douglas Haig, “Yet contrary to much of what is written about Haig, he was not actually trying to wipe out his own armies. He was trying, at the behest of these same politicians, to win the war. And indeed the armies which he commanded played a large role in the victories of 1918. In this aspect of the debate there seems a total inability to distinguish between futile episodes within the war and the decent purpose for which the war was being fought. Perhaps this level of sophistication is just too hard for unreflective critic

It wasn’t democracy, how could you be fighting for that concept when one of your allies was the Russian Tsar. Remember the Tsarist state organised pogroms against Jews as late as 1907. And it was to help this Allie that Anzacs were at Gallipoli. There was also good old fashion empire building, imperialism.

 Tariq Ali, sums it up well in On History, Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Conversation
"Let us start with the First World War, which was the single most important event of the twentieth century, not recognized as such. We mainly think about the Second World War and Hitler, but it was the First World War that suddenly bought about the death of a number of empires. The Austrian Hungarian Empire collapsed. The Ottoman Empire collapsed. The Tsarist Empire of Russia collapsed. And on the heels of this arose nationalism, communism and revolutionary movements of different kinds…."
Let us get back to Haig.
The debate won't being going for just this year but will come back to haunt us in 2018 for the 100 years since the Victory. Anyone whose an apologist for Haig is worse than a nutter. They are evil. Norman Dixon , a former British officer and author of the great book, The Psychology of Military Incompetence believes Haig was psychotically deranged sadist. For Prior to come out with crap reflects the sad and sniveling propaganda that is meant to pass as “historical writing”. I had four uncles on the Western Front, two had survived Gallipoli, who suffered from Haig’s insane attacks summed up well by the writers of Blackadder in 1989 ‘yet another gargantuan effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin’.
What else can you call his battles at the Somme and Passchendaele, John Laffin, was spot on when he called Haig a ‘butcher and bungler’.
Haig had systematically falsified the record of his military career, underpinning the most important years with a diary written for circulation in his own cause during the war and re-written in his own favor after it. Denis Winter, Haig’s Command A Reassessment puts a forward a strong argument that he falsified history.
The picture below is of my Uncle John, At Haig's Battle of Passchendaele also known as the Battle of the Mud. He was awarded the Military Medal, This is his citation

"At Broodseinde during the period 26/27th October 1917 No 3648 Pte John Tognolini did excellent work on the morning of the 26th October. He was one of a party of eight carrying two stretcher cases to the Regimental Aid Post when a shell burst and severely wounded three of the party. Although wounded himself he continued with his work and made two trips back to get the wounded they had left on the way. He then returned to line and on the morning of the 27th October when several men were wounded by shell fire and all the stretchers in use. He dressed one man and carried him on his back to the R.A.P. All this work was under very heavy shell fire.

He set a fine example of coolness and courage to the men of his company.
Pte Tognolini has on many occasions shown great courage and devotion to duty."

John Tognolini was Killed in Action on 25-4-18 at the Battle of Villers Bretonneux. The army had his age as 24 years old.

As he was born in 1900 he was either 16 or 17.



There is that view of why study history? It's about events that happened so long ago. The thing is those actions live with us in many ways. Through the people that lived and died because of them, through their families. My father had a picture of my Uncle John under glass looking down on us in the lounge room in Brunswick when I was kid. He and another brother went of to fight in World War Two. This is a picture of my Uncle Stephen, he survived Gallipoli and won the Military Medal twice, the man in front of him George Hunt was at Anzac too. He was awarded the Distigushed Conduct Medal, this photo was taken a week before the Battle of Hamel on July 4 1918. George was killed during it. I wrongly thought he was Aboriginal. His father was from the West Indies and jumped ship in Newcastle. Abbott and Morrision would have had George's father locked up on Manus Island.




There are World War One soldiers who would fit into Prior's idea of "unreflective critics" whose words still speak to us today:

H.R.Williams said after a costly attack by Australians....."On the way out I looked at some of the Australian dead. There were some people at home I wished see them too. One of the group of three wore the brass A on their red and black colour patches, which denoted their service at ANZAC on Gallipoli, and above the cliff on their right sleeve were the red chevrons of 1914 service. A sergeant had a golden wound stripe on his left sleeve and one other of the dead wore a similar badge. We covered them with their waterproof sheets, these three men of the peerless First Australian Division and went on our way with heavy hearts."

And Siegfried Sassoon wrote in his famous Soldiers Declaration

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this that this war , upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be unjust.