Wednesday, 24 April 2013
I first published this article exactly one year ago today. Means more to me each year.
Lest we forget.
Here's my granddad Percy Leo Smith and his brothers Leslie John and Gerald Peter Smith. The boys somehow managed to get leave in the Christmas of 1917 an they met up in London - grandad and Les from the 3rd Division on the Western Front in France, and Gerald from HMAS Warrego based at Brindisi in Italy. They had a singular mission - to get a photo all together for my great grandma Catherine Smith, then widowed, who was waiting in Sherwood Street Richmond for her boys to come home. Les and Grandpa had already been wounded, Les seriously, you'll see his wound stripe and the scar from the Gun Shot Wound to Face Penetrating Eye that's recorded on his war service record. A few weeks later he was shot and killed in action in the German's Michael Offensive on 30 March 1918.
When my great grandma received a note from the War Memorial some years later for Les's notations on the Roll of Honour, here's what she wrote about her boy.
My dad Geoff was one of 11 surviving children of Percy Leo and Myrene Smith. Dad's brother Jack was in the tail end of the New Guinea campaign in WW2 and Leo was in the RAR as an infantryman who saw active service in Korea. My dad was a nasho, an artilleryman at Holsworthy.
Dad's brother Les married Nancy Ryan of Bibbenluke, near Bombala. When I was a kid we'd holiday at her family's place at Bibbenluke and I was fascinated by her dad George Claude RYAN MM who'd never drove a car and had draught horses all his life to help people caught on the ford that floods a bit at Bibbenluke. Claude had a distate for machines after seeing machine guns up close for too long. He won the Military Medal for cleaning up some Germans in an entrenched machine gun nest, they killed a lot of Claude's mates you see.
Claude signed up in Bibbenluke with Olive Allen's boy Les. Olive Allen was still around at Bibbenluke when I was very little. Les didn't come home from the war. I always get a bit wistful near Anzac Day, it means a lot to me to remember them.