Ten Interesting events in a Long Life
Here are ten interesting events from my past, in no particular order. See these and more in my Passport to the World Travel Diary.
1. Being sunk in HMAS Canberra at the Battle of Savo Island August 9, 1942.
2. Being present in Tokyo Bay on Sunday September 2, 1945, for the signing of the Japanese surrender in WW2.
3. Being invited and to be present onboard Admiral Bull Halsey's flagship USS Missouri alongside Ford Island Honolulu, for the 60th. anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Japanese surrender.
4. Visiting Paris in 1968 at the time of the student riots, talking to students at the Sorbonne, and being part of the crowd as they destroyed Police cars on Boulevard St Michel.
5. Being at the top of Toyko Tower during an earthquake in 1968.
6. Being in Washington DC, during the 9/11 attacks and learning my wife and I had been booked on American Airlines infamous Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon with the loss of all on board, we were only taken off that flight because of an invitation from John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, to accompany him on a visit to Arlington Cemetery to visit the gravesite of the one Australian servieman buried there.
8. Standing alongside the Russian Cruiser Aurora moored on the River Neva and contemplating her history over more than 100 years.
Laid down in 1892, joined the Imperial Russian Navy in 1903. Sailed to the Far East to be part of the Battle of Tsushima, and one of the few Russian warships to survive. Was at Bangkok in 1911 for crowning of King of Siam. In WW1 saw action in the Baltic, she fired a shot into the Winter Palace to signal the start of the October 1917 revolution.
During the 900 day seige of Leningrad ( one of the old names for St Petersburg ) moored off mouth of the Gulf of Finland to hammer the Nazi invadrers surrounding that city. Was sunk to be raised in 1957 and restored, to now be moored close to the Hermitage.
9. To be in Rome in 1963 when Pope John XXIII died, and visit St Peters whilst he lay in state.
It had been my dream since I was a boy to visit the ancient city of Samarkand slap in the middle of Asia, the burial place of Tamerlaine. I finally achieved that landmark in 1995.
This ancient city which in 1970 celebrated its 2500th. anniversary, squats slap in the centre of Asia, Alexander was moved by its beauty, Marco Polo admired it, Tamerlaine made it his capital.
Samarkand has survived 10 centuries of invasions by Turks, Arabs, and in 1220 Genghis Khan wrecked it. Tamerlaine drew artisans from throughout Asia to develop it, and the Russians arrived in 1868.
In 1405, Tamerlaine was laid to rest in the Gur Emir Mausoleum. In 1941, his tomb was opened, and it was confirmed that he had indeed been lame, the Jade stone over his grave was a single slab, and had come from Mongolia, and the Irian invaders had stolen it, but as it brought bad luck it had been returned, but had been broken into two pieces.
An inscription was said to have been found, warning anyone opening this crypt would release the spirit of war.