Here in Australia it's ANZAC Day. The one day of the year when we all gather to remember the solemn sacrifice of our service men and women in the First World War, and other subsequent conflicts.
For Aussies - and our Kiwi mates across the Tasman who served alongside us - it's a sacred day.
Lest we forget.
As a historian and teacher who's taken classes of students to visit the battlefields and grave sites of the Australian fallen, I've never ceased to be moved by the sight of so many young men who died to protect the lives of men, women and children in a foreign country.
They believed it was the right thing to do.
Thanks to them, my country enjoys freedom and at peace.
In BloodGifted, Book 1 in my Dantonville Legacy series, I try and portray the horror of the Western Front as seen through my MC's eyes - Doctor Major Alec Munro.
Unfortunately, after editing, it didn't make the final cut.
So here is the deleted WWI scene.
* * *Becoming a vampire hadn't been my choice. It had occurred in the last days of the First World War. I'd enlisted in 1916. Doctors were in great demand and so I was shipped directly to northern France to the 3rd Australian Field Hospital at Abbeville. It was close to the frontline. Several of the Dominion troops - Australian and Canadian battalions - were sent here to defend the area around Amiens and the town of Villers-Bretonneux from a German offensive.
That's where I met Owen Dantonville, the leading physician, a tall, thin man who appeared to be roughly the same age as myself - late twenties. What struck me were the strange colour of his eyes; a deep shade of lavender.
He welcomed me warmly the day I arrived. We soon became friends.
So many wounded were coming in, there weren't enough medical staff to deal with them all. There hadn't even been time to unpack before I was ushered into the operating theatre, or rather, the makeshift tent that passed for one.
Unlike myself, Owen had signed up in 1914. As he'd enthusiastically told me, 'I have to be in it!' worried it would be all over by Christmas and he would've missed the adventure of his life....
It was the Big Push early in 1918 that brought us the worst casualties. The constant noise of the shelling and witnessing the mechanical slaughter of mates, drove some men over the edge. We named it "Shell Shock" and no one knew how to treat it. The ambulance drivers exhausted themselves running a constant relay between our hospital and the trenches of Amiens, bringing back more wounded than we could accommodate. I persuaded one of them to take me to the front so I could see for myself what the soldiers babbled about in their delirium.
What I witnessed there horrified me.
Spring in Picardy was ice and mud in equal proportions. Men stood ankle-deep in putrid water, in which floated the bodies of field rats infested with lice, and the decomposing remains of German soldiers whose rotting corpses were used to prop up the ramparts.
My stomach heaved and my knuckles burned with how hard I had them clenched at the outrage that coursed through me.
'How can men be asked to endure this?' I said to my driver.
'Shhh! Not so loud, major.' He glanced around. 'We're not allowed to say anything to affect the morale of the men.'
I shook my head. When would this pointless slaughter end?
I helped carry some of the wounded into the ambulance and we drove back to the hospital. Along the route I tried to picture how this part of France must have appeared before the war.
The once picturesque town of Villers-Bretonneux had almost disappeared beneath the massive German mortar barrage. Quiet wooded groves and quaint villages were reduced to ravaged skeletons of what they once had been.
We fought to protect the people and in return they looked after us. I'd overheard some of our men considering the possibility of remaining behind after the war to help the villagers rebuild. Countless numbers of our men were already permanent residents. Their bodies lay in the newly established cemetery where once fertile fields had stood.
My heart ached.