Anzac Day is a big day on the Australian calendar, inspired by the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
This year I would like to honor an Irish-Australian gentleman by the name of Ultan Murray. I met him in Brisbane a few weeks ago. Every now and again, you meet someone that touches your life. Someone that leaves you with a lasting impression. Ultan Murray is such a person and I would like to share his story with you.
An Anzac Day Tribute
My Anzac Day tribute goes to this gentleman. It was on a Monday after one of our recent internet marketing workshops. I was sitting at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle Cafe in Queen Street Mall in Brisbane while my wife was doing some retail therapy in the local shops. I’m not much of a shopping person, so I happily sat myself down for a quiet coffee or 2 and was entertained by my iPhone Twitter account. This was when an elderly gentleman sat down at the table next to me.
I introduced myself and he introduced himself as “Ultan”. His hands were shaky and I politely asked Ultan if it was arthritis.
“Arthitis?“, he exclaimed! “I dream of arthritis! This is from nuclear radiation“.
Ultan proceeded to tell me his story over the next hour. We had a great conversation and I asked his permission to publish this story on my blog and share it. He was quite happy for this to happen.
Here is Ultan Murray’s story:
World War 2 – The Coast Of Japan
In 1945, Ultan Murray was an Irish soldier, in the British forces, waiting off the coast of Japan to invade. He was part of a 1 Million strong Allied invasion force – Ready, Willing and Able to risk their life’s to invade Japan to end the war.
“Sean. The bomb in Hiroshima is killing me right now, but it saved my life” Ultan profoundly said. It was a powerful statement to make and one that many people may not understand or appreciate. However, he put it into perspective:
“140,000 people were killed by that bomb. Many more from radiation. Yet, 1 Million allied soldiers were invading Japan and the Japs would never surrender. It was going to a massive bloodbath. God knows how many would have been killed“.
I was sitting in silence. In a world of political correctness, I knew something like that could be hard to publish without someone getting upset, yet I bowed to the fact that ‘people have opinions’ and they will always differ. Many atrocities were committed during that war. Far to many to get upset over historical facts that we cannot change now. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and move forward in a positive way.
Ultan was not an Anzac, but his story is relevant and inspiring. I bought Ultan a Barramundi lunch and asked him about his childhood. He had very interesting story to tell me.
Ultan Murray was born in the county of Dublin, Ireland in 1926. He was one of 8 children of which 2 died at birth. His father died of cancer 6 months after Ultan’s birth.
“I was being born in one room of the hospital while my father was dying in the room next to me“.
He was raised in orphanages due to his mother being uncapable of handling the finacial burden of so many children. However, Ultan still managed to meet his mother. He told me this:
“My mother knew of my love for Japanese women. I wanted to move to Australia so I could use it as a base to get to Japan. Mother said to me: ‘Why can’t you find a woman of your own kind?‘.”
Sounds just like something a mother would say…
Ultan Murray was based in Japan for 4 years. Although an official surrender was signed by Japan on the Battleship Missouri in 1945, a peace treaty wasn’t signed until 1951. Japan was under Martial Law and Ultan was stationed there for 4 years after the surrender. During this time, he suffered radiation from the bombs.
Ultan arrived in Australia in 1951 and has lived here for 58 years. I had a long conversation with him and shared some great insights on history, especially the Irish-Danish rivalry going back to year 800 AD. We spoke of how the last King of ireland was killed by a Dane, the history of the Victoria Cross, the Crimean war and much more.
I learned once again that every person holds a bestselling novel within them that should be shared with the rest of the world.
It was a pleasure to meet Ultan Murray on that day in Brisbane. He touched me with his story and it warmed my heart. Thank you, Ultan. On this day, we honor you and everyone else that made a sacrifice for the rest of us.
War is something that no one will ever truly understand the real horrors of – unless they were there and experienced it first hand. Everyone else can just sit back and hope it doesn’t happen to themselves and their loved ones. Meanwhile, let’s pay respects to the ones that endured these horrors on behalf of the rest of us.
Have a great Anzac Day.
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