Sunday, September 19, 2010

Should auld acquaintance be forgot . . . . .

A few weekends ago, I attended a Cousins Reunion.  It was a get-together of the offspring of my Dad's extensive family, held at South West Rocks on the mid north coast of New South Wales.

It was so lovely to catch up with cousins I hadn't seen for literally most of my life.

How to have a long conversation with your cousins - sit along a long log!

One request was that family members bring along any memorabilia in their possession that other family members may find interesting, and my goodness, there were some absolute gems come to light.

My Dad was the baby of a large family, in fact when he was born in 1916, his eldest brother had already marched away to that great adventure, the Western Front.  I imagine my Grandmother, nursing her baby son and worrying about her 19 year old far away.

He was a member of the 1st AIF 33rd battalion, and by June, 1917 the battalion was part of the assembled throng waiting for the detonation of the massive landmines which signalled the beginning of the Battle of Messines.  Anyone who has recently seen the movie 'Beneath Hill 60' will kind of know the story.  It was the biggest explosion ever witnessed on earth up until that time, reputedly heard by the British Prime Minister in his office in London.

Zero hour was 3.10am on the 7th June, 1917.  Those baby-faced adventurers could have been in no doubt that their lives were about to change.  How do you think you would cope at that moment?  We could not have been sure how our uncle felt, until one of my cousins brought to the reunion the following letter.

How my Grandmother must have wept when the letter arrived, presumably some time after the telegram which informed her of the Army's great regret that her son had been killed in action on 9th June, 1917, bravely serving his country.  He is buried with 77 of his brothers in arms in a Belgian wood.

War is such a waste of life . . . .

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