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Lest We Forget

Today is ANZAC Day.  As I write this my sons are both attending the Dawn Service at Kings Park in Perth.  I am very proud of them, getting out of bed at 4.30am and giving up their sleep to show their respect for our ANZACs.  I know they will be walking in the dark, quietly and solemnly, with thousands of other people, all towards the memorial and service.  It struck me when I was thinking of this, that in another era, my two sons may well have been going off to war.  This thought filled me with horror and fear, I could not imagine my beautiful sons going away to a foreign place to be shot at.

So what of all the other mothers who did have to go through this horror?  How on earth did they say goodbye to their sons?  Today, my heart is with these women who had to endure this sadness.  To my great grandmother, Sarah Eliza Smith.

My heart is also, as always on this day, with the grandfather whom I never met.  He was my dads dad - Harry.  Christened Henry Edward Smith, he was born on 26 January 1890 in Croyden, NSW.  At the age of 26, in the year of 1917, he joined the 45th Battalion AIF.  He was unmarried and left his recently widowed mother to grieve and worry. I have his enlistment records, and it is a very detailed insight into a man, a gentle and kind man I have been told, that I was always sad to never have met. He had blue eyes, was 5 feet 8 inches tall, was 25 and 8 months, weighed 140lbs.  A little note at the bottom of his medical report on the enlistment shocked me at first - 'Is not keen on enlisting'. But reading his medical records, it seems he was not a very well man at all and I can understand how he would not be very keen to go to war! Maybe he knew what was to come.

He spent the next 18 months in France, and in and out of camp hospitals, after being wounded and gassed many times.  It is very confronting to read a soldiers records, and see that he was Wounded in Action with Barb Wire, or Wounded in Action - Gas.  Finally in early 1919 he was sent home due to a painful scar from an operation.  At least he was alive when he went home, so many others were not.

So thank you Granddad for giving your health to go and fight an enemy in France so that the western world could be free from oppression.  I am sorry this happened to you, and I am sorry that eventually you died from complications of injuries suffered at war. 

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget

The national Archives now have all records of soldiers online.  Go to this website for more information -

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