ANZAC Cup Player Spotlight – Priscilla Lodge
On ANZAC Day 2018, the 10th annual ANZAC Cup between the men’s and women’s Australian Spirit sides and their French national team counterparts will be played to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. AFL Europe will be putting the spotlight on some of the players who will represent Australia each week in the lead-up to the game, highlighting their remarkable connections to the ANZAC’s and previewing an incredible event.
With extensive connections to Australia’s Armed Forces, there is no doubt that Priscilla Lodge will cherish the opportunity to represent the Australian spirit at this year’s ANZAC Cup at Villers-Bretonneux.
Ever since she was a young girl Priscilla has taken great pride in the ANZAC traditions, previously marching in the Melbourne ANZAC Parade with her Grandpa and WW2 veteran, Jack Hardy.
“Walking down St. Kilda Road towards the Shrine of Remembrance (that my great-grandfather and his brothers built) and seeing the crowds cheering, waving flags, and clapping are memories I cherish dearly. To have people yelling, ‘thank you’ at my Grandpa, and see his incredibly humble face shine with pride is a moment like no other.”
At the present, just three veterans are still alive from her grandfather’s Battalion. They still all proudly partake in the parade. Their arms always linked, and their smiles always glowing, as they approach The Shrine with family members walking proudly by their side.
Priscilla’s grandfather Jack Hardy is now 94 years of age, but his bond with his granddaughter is still as close as it’s ever been. His courage was shown not long after his 18th birthday, when he was assigned to the 57/60th Battalion, a part of the 3rd Division’s 15th Brigade.
In March 1943, Jack Hardy fought for Australia in Port Moresby to undertake defensive duties around the American Airbase at Tsilli Tsilli. His toughest challenge came after PNG, when as part of the 3rd Division, Jack headed to Bougainville to fight what was thought to be 17,500 Japanese soldiers. Whilst this was significantly incorrect, Jack and the Allies were aware of the treacherous attacks the Japanese could make around the mountains and rivers. In fact, it is recognised that conditions were so bad that patrolling operations had to stop come December 1944. It’s now known as a period of time where the Japanese capitalised their advantage and heavily attack the 3rd Division, before the unprecedented dropping of two atomic bombs ensured unconditional surrender.
When war was over and Jack was discharged on the 19th of March 1946, Priscilla’s grandfather had actively served in Australia for 675 days, internationally for 761 days and all up just shy of four years of days in total.
Lodge, one of four of his brothers to take his place at WW1, also has a remarkable story. After living in Hamilton in Western Victoria, Frank’s brother Gus landed on Gallipoli just after the 9th Battalion on the morning of the 25th of April 1915, as part of the 8th Battalion. At just 19 years old, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and was the youngest officer in the Australia Imperial Force (AIF).
Months earlier and Frank was enlisted for service and departed Melbourne with the 22nd Battalion on the 10th of May 1915. Like his brother Gus, Frank was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal, where he played a large part in the Lone Pine defences prior to landing at Gallipoli himself. Here he was further promoted to Corporal in October 1915.
Priscilla’s paternal great-grandfather and great, great uncle then reunited in Alexandria, Egypt on the 14th of March 1916 and were soon transferred to the Western Front.
In July 1916, Gus and his fellow soldiers of the 1st Division were thrown amongst a battle now known as the ‘Battle of Pozières’. Knowing how significant the battle has become to WW1 history, Priscilla understandably has a deep knowledge of her family’s involvement in this battle.
“Gus played a critical role in the capture of Pozières and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his actions. W.D. Joynt, VC. had just joined the 8th Battalion as a Lieutenant prior to the battle of Pozières and witnessed the actions of Gus Lodge, which he later described in his book “Breaking the Road for the Rest.” “What courage; I thought, and he (Gus) immediately became my hero.”
Possessing the same outstanding qualities as his brother, Frank soon found his way to the Battle of Pozieres where he and his Battalion were responsible for digging communication trenches running through Pozières. Together, Gus and Frank showed the utmost courage and resilience in a battle that saw Australia lose 23,000 men in less than seven weeks. At one stage, both brothers were placed in an army hospital after suffering serious gunshot wounds in this bloody affair.
Gus’s wounds made him unfit for further service as he was repatriated back to Australia in January 1917.
Frank carried on, making his way to the Western Front, partaking in four battles including then Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Later, he was awarded both the Military Cross and Military Medal. He received the Military Cross recipient for his work around the area of Peronne and Mount St Quentin. He received the Military Medal for his work at the Battle of Pozières.
With their other brothers Richard and Jim enlisting during 1917, by the end of the year all four Lodge brothers were either in active service or on their way.
By July 1918, all four Lodge brothers at War were fighting on the Western Front. Between them, the four brothers provide unbroken service from the first landing at Gallipoli to the last battle in 1918.
By 1919, Frank, Gus, Richard and Jim were back in Australia continuing their father’s stonemason business ‘Lodge Brothers’, building many famous churches, spires and commercial buildings in the years that followed.
The story of Lodge brothers and her grandfather Jack is something that still remains very significant and important to Priscilla. It’s a story of courage, resilience and perseverance under times of genuine physical and mental pain.
Now based in London to pursue travel and work opportunities while playing footy for the Wandsworth Demons, Priscilla will always be grateful for the sacrifices made by her inspiring relatives. And the opportunity to play in the ANZAC Cup will be just another reminder of how fortunate she truly is.
“It would be an absolute honour to pull on the Green and Gold on 25th April in Villers-Bretonneux, particularly given the significance of the 100 Year anniversary of this battle, and represent Australia in my own right. I would cherish the opportunity to stand in a place where my own great-grandfather and his brothers fought so courageously for Australia; I truly am at a loss to describe what this would mean. I am searching for words to use other than proud but there honestly is no substitute.”
Linking arms, John (Jack) Hardy and his fellow men of the 3rd Division at the 2017 ANZAC Day Parade in Melbourne.
Will Taylor – AFL Europe
Stay across afleurope.org and AFL Europe social media channels for more news and build-up to ANZAC Cup 2018.
ANZAC Cup 2018 presented by AFL Europe and major partner National Australia Bank
Special thanks to the organising committee in France, Association Bretonvilloise d’Animation for their ongoing support of the ANZAC Cup