My mothers side of the family was nearly wiped out in WW1, my great grandmother lost both of her brothers, and her father was severely wounded. My fathers side of the family lost one of my Great-uncles, in rather strange circumstances.
WW2 Was a little better with only One uncle on my mothers side perishing in New Guinea.
Here’s what little I know about Alex and Tom.
Alex joined up joined up first, getting into the 28th Battalion and the number 762.
Tom joined later entering 27 Battalion with the number 5919.
Alex spent a couple of months at Gallipoli and was evacuated with the rest when that campaign ended. They both ended up in France.
Family history has it that their father joined shortly after Tom to “go over and watch out for them”.
Family history also has poor Alex’s cause of death as being buried alive during a bombardment in 1916.
Tom was killed the next year, we don’t have any family story of why, but the AWM has him down as died of wounds.
Their father (also named Alexander) was badly wounded when a gun nearby exploded and sent a large piece of shrapnel into his upper leg, shattering his femur. His leg was shortened by about 5 cm after it healed.
Family history also has poor father Alex coming home on a hospital ship, slipping on the gangway and re-breaking his femur.
My grandmother gave me their dead mens pennies, photos and the piece of shrapnel they removed from pa-Alexs’ leg. I consider it quite an honour to have them. I will visit France and Belgium one day to visit the boys, both died aged 24. Needless to say it ruined Pa-Alexs’ life, he became a surly drunk, and great-great grandma, a quiet sad woman.
None of them apparently distinguished themselves, so they silently join the great mass who died unremarked on.
As for my father side. Well he worked as a farmer, and during WW1 farmers were considered so essential that they were actually sent back to Australia to help with the harvest. It seems bizarre but they would ship a fighting man half way round the world, then back but they did.
He died of all things driving a wheat truck. Ive had the location pointed out to me by my father, and thats where the twist in the tale comes in.
The corner he crashed on is directly across from a farmhouse. However the farmer at that time had a bull living in that paddock that used to “play” with an old rainwater tank, rolling it from one side of the paddock to the other. When my great uncle died the farmers heard the crash but thought it was the bull playing with the tank again. So uncle wasn’t found till the next day, to late for him.
I wont be going to a service, unfortunately Im still stuck at work, But I will be taking a few moments silence to think of the boys.
April 24, 2009, 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm
My granddad on my father’s side also served in France during WWI. He was 15. He was only one of three to survive from his battalion. He was shot in the arm and taken to a hospital in England. The wound started getting gangrenous and the docs were going to chop off his whole arm. Anyway, he thought bugger that, and took off with some mates to Scotland where his arm got frostbitten which actually healed the gangrene. Arm saved. It’s a shame he died before I was born.
A bunch of us Aussies and Kiwis are going to enjoy a nice steak together on Saturday.
April 24, 2009, 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm
My great uncle joined up with one of his sons. After uncle died of wounds, they discovered this his son was 16 and shipped him home.
They were made of different stock to you and I, those men.
April 25, 2009, 4:42 pm at 4:42 pm
Every one of them more than distinguished themselves in my book, frollicker, RIP.
April 25, 2009, 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm
“None of them apparently distinguished themselves, so they silently join the great mass who died unremarked on.”
I really don’t think that’s how you should look on it, Mole. If it were me, for example, I’d rather think about the true notion that many of the “unremarked on” facilitated the exploits of the “distinguished.”
My grandfather was US Navy enlisted in WW I and returned home safe, or I wouldn’t be here… I suppose there is room for debate, therefore… LOL!
April 26, 2009, 4:41 am at 4:41 am
I’m too late as usual, but thank you, Australia, for all your sacrifices.
April 26, 2009, 5:41 am at 5:41 am
Reciprocated, Bec. Tell your grandkids. Just turned 30. Tell them everything you know.