THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Whether it’s the dotted line, or marked with a cross, when we’re given the pen and asked to ‘sign here’ few of us do it without at least a slight hesitation. Should we have read all that writing above? Given our almost insignificant and minor qualms, what must it have been like for England’s King John who, in 1215, signed the Magna Carta under duress and changed the world as it was known then forever? Well, he ‘took back’ his signature a year or so later, and it took several rewritings and as many resignings by following monarchs before everyone was satisfied. A century ago this month, on 11 November, military men gathered in France for another equally significant signing of a document, one party to this agreement just as reluctant as King John had been. It was, of course, the document that came to be known simply as The Armistice. It marked a truce, the coming of peace after the devastation of the Great War, the war to end all wars, World War I. The outcome had been recognised as inevitable for some time by all parties and Germany’s capitulation should have occurred much earlier. The Armistice has been celebrated every year for the last century, and will continue on through the ages, a time to reflect on the bravery of those who fought in that war, the sacrifices made by them and their families, and the huge loss of life that resulted.
Armistice, not surrender
Wikipedia tells us that the Armistice signed at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month ended fighting between Germany and the Allies on land, sea and air. When America entered the war the year before and hundreds of thousands of fresh American forces arrived in France, the German military finally persuaded their government they faced defeat. Although there was no formal surrender by the Germans, the Armistice was the prelude to peace negotiations and signified victory for the Allies. The Allied Supreme Commander, Marshall Ferdinand Foch, dictated the terms and the Armistice was signed in a carriage on his private train where it stood, north of Paris at Compiègne. Foch’s terms included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, the surrender of aircraft, warships and military material, and the release of Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, and provided for eventual reparations. (Germany honoured their financial reparations, finally settling their debt for WWI In 2010.) News about the forthcoming ceasefire had spread among the forces but sporadic fighting at the front continued until the last minute. A British corporal reported that at 11am “...the Germans came from their trenches, bowed to us and then went away. That was it. There was nothing with which we could celebrate, except cookies.” There was apparently some cheering and applause, but the dominant feeling was silence and emptiness after 52 exhausting months of war. Like the Magna Carta that Armistice signed at Compiègne would undergo several revisions and the final document, known as the Treaty of Versailles, was signed six months later. However, Marshall Foch was not satisfied with that Treaty. “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years,” he said. His words proved prophetic: the Second World War started twenty years and 65 days later. During that war Hitler and his henchmen demanded a formal surrender from the French as they were forced to submit to German occupation. Signing of the relevant documents took place, symbolically, in the same carriage in which the Armistice had been signed. When Hitler’s armies faced defeat in 1945, they burned and destroyed the carriage.
The Australian War Memorial website tells us that from the summer of 1918, the five divisions of the Australian Corps had been at the forefront of the allied advance to victory, beginning with their stunning success at the Battle of Hamel and ending with the breaching of German defences at the Hindenburg Line. “By early October the exhausted Australians were withdrawn from battle. They had achieved a fighting reputation out of proportion to their numbers, but victory had come at a heavy cost. They suffered almost 48,000 casualties during 1918, including more than 12,000 dead. In the four years of the war more than 330,000 Australians had served overseas, and more than 60,000 of them had died.” The signing of the Armistice will be marked in towns and cities, large and small, around the country; it will be celebrated in music, drama and literature; radio and television programs will cover it extensively. It may be the last of our WWI centennial commemorations, a fitting time to recall those who will never be forgotten for their sacrifice in our name, for our future, and for a way of life that entitles us to still be known as ‘the lucky country’.
Missives from the seas
In a series of missives from a cruise from London to Australia, Marian Hearn looks forward to jumping off the boat in the Grenada
Not to be confused with the city and province in Spain (Granada). Or the Spanish colonial province (New Granada). Or the chain of small islands that lie on
a line between the larger islands of Saint Vincent and Grenada
Grenada, which we will be visiting on our route back to Australia, is
a country in the Windward Islands of the West Indies comprising the island of Grenada and the southern Grenadines. It is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Its area is 348.5km2, and it had an estimated population of 107,317 in 2016. St George’s, on the island of Grenada, is the capital and largest city, and also the port where we will land.
Grenada has had a chequered history since it was originally inhabited by Arawaks, who were later driven out by Caribs. The island of Grenada was sighted by Columbus in 1498, and although it was deemed the property of the King of Spain, there are no records to suggest the Spanish ever landed or settled on the island. It was settled by the French in the mid 1600s. It became a British colony in 1783, and achieved independence in 1974. A coup in 1979 brought a Marxist government to power, and concern over Cuban influence led to an invasion by primarily US troops in October 1983, after which democratic rule was restored.
From what I have read, I think our senses are going to be challenged by all the spices – Grenada is called the Spice Isle of
Nutmeg and mace production has been part of Grenada’s history for over 100 years. The island was the second major international exporter in the world after Indonesia. Grenada has its own Nutmeg Spice Festival, such is its importance in culture and industry. The nutmeg is used as a symbol on the national flag and many other promotional materials. Nutmeg is the main reason the island is now called the Spice Isle.
Nutmeg is used in ice creams, biscuits and cakes, confectionary, soaps, medicines, herbal remedies and essential oils, syrups, sauces and ketchups, jams and jellies, and liquors.
Mace (the red lacy substance that wraps around the nutmeg) is used as a preservative and to season soups, stews, sauces, and pickles.
Turmeric is derived from a root vegetable and is commonly used to add bright yellow colour to soup, stew, curry, rice, or potato dishes. It is also an ingredient in the Grenadian national dish called ‘oil down’. It is commonly called saffron in Grenada.
Cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of a tree. It is used for flavouring cakes, puddings, and sweet baked goods. You can also use cinnamon to flavour hot spiced drinks such as tea, or hot chocolate, or in liquor.
Cloves may be used whole or dried to season sausages, hams, mincemeat, and other meats (normally at Christmas time in Grenada).
It can also flavour fish dishes, fruit cakes, some pickles, stewed fruits, and preserves.
Allspice (commonly known as Pimento) is the dried fruit of the Pimenta tree. It is used for flavouring sauces, curries, marinades, stews, pickles, fruit salads, soups, and spicy hot tea. It is also an ingredient for authentic Caribbean jerk chicken.
Bay leaves are aromatic dried leaves often put in stews, soups, savoury rice, gravy, meat and poultry dishes, fish, pastas, marinades, and condiments. They have a light floral aroma when dried and can be used whole or crushed.
Fresh or dried ginger is used to flavour sweet cakes, baked goods, and drinks such as ginger beer. Grenadians also include it in curries, stews or sauces, pot roasts, savoury dressings, chutneys, jams and jellies, ice cream and fudge.
It is almost as widely used as nutmeg on the Spice Isle.
Well that’s certainly got my nose twitching and my mouth watering.
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