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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Anzac Day - A Time To Remember

I know Anzac Day is a week away, but I was compelled to write and post this today.

From the poem For My Solider Son by Sandra Randall ©2007 (www.authorsden.com)

I am very sad today its time to say goodbye
To my Darling boy and I sit and cry

Why does there have to be war

Why oh why oh why

Hard to think of all those gone
All those left to die

Our Diggers in the trenches

Diggin in the dirt

Never mind if they’ve been shot

Or any of them hurt …

They just keep on goin
Blood, sweat and tears,

Our Soldiers bound together

For many many years

With Anzac Day approaching my thoughts often turn to how hard it must be to send your son or daughter go off to war. No matter how much you believed that they were going to fight to keep your country free, to know they may never return, I just don’t know how you do it. While it is hard to lose any member of your family to bury your child no matter what age must be the hardest thing of all.

During my years of researching my family tree (including my husbands) I have found many surprises, I have also found hardship and sorrow and the saddest, the one that touched my heart the most, was the story
of my husband’s great grandmother Christina. Here is a small bit of her story. May none of us ever find ourselves in her shoes.

Her name was Christina Le Nepveu and she married Philip Richard Cornish in Vic in 1894, they had 5 children – 3 daughters and 2 sons. Her husband died in 1903 and she married Charles Allison Shaddock in 1906 and had 4 more sons, one who is my husbands grandfather Edward Louis.

Christina lost 2 of her sons in World War I. Imagine her heartbreak when 5 letters she had sent to her 18-year-old son were returned with the chilling word KILLED pencilled on them. She had no notification of his death and it took her months to have it confirmed. Then to have her other son wounded in France, paralysed but being sent home only to find out that he died at sea while being re

And so she buried two sons, collected their medals and somehow went on with her life. I am just thankful that she was not alive to see another of her sons go off to war in World War II and come back a broken man who eventually suicided because it was too much to bear.

To all the men and women who have died for us and to those who have survived but at what cost – I thank you for your sacrifice. To all the mothers still with us and those that are
gone, my heart bleeds for your sacrifice. It still brings me to tears.

RIP our Anzac Family
Pte Philip John Cornish (1895-1917) Service No 76 22nd Battalion AIF. Died 29th March 1917. Awarded 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Memorialised at Villers Bretonneux- France. On the Roll of Honour Australian War Memorial Canberra.

From his war records the following in despatches:
For consistent gallant conduct and devotion to duty as Stretcher-Bearer during the operations at Fleubaix, Armentieres and on the Somme. He has answered the call without hesitation and regardless of heavy fire, setting a fine example of devotion to duty and self sacrifice for the sake of his wounded comrades.”

It was while returning to the front after having taken another wounded solider back for help that Philip was shot in the back and paralysed on the 27th July 1916. He was shipped back to England and was being sent back to Australia where he died at sea from kidney failure as a result of his injuries.

Pte James Dudley Cornish (1897-1915) Service No 2133A Unit 6th Battalion AIF, died 7th August 1915, killed in action. Awarded 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Memorialised at Lone Pine Memorial Gallipoli. On the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial Canberra.

He was not officially listed as KIA until 7th March 1916 after a board of enquiry.

Board of Enquiry Statement
Witness knew JD Cornish intimately, and confirms that statement that he had joined the Unit from reinforcements. He was in A Coy. He was killed in a charge early in August and witness was as close as possible to him when he fell. They had gone into action side by side. Witness undid his equipment but there was nothing to be done, as he had been killed outright. He was not buried for as he had fallen between the two firing lines his body had to be left there.

And Christina’s letter to the Dept of Defence – one of many before she had her answer.

Dear Sir
In answer to your telegram this morning, I am enclosing one envelope returned to me. I sent one to my daughter in town and gave 2 to a lady going to town yesterday she was going to make enquiries for me. This envelope was the last one I wrote to my dear boy the day they went on the boat. They landed in Egypt on 17 July and the last letter he wrote to me was dated 26th July he said then they did not know when they would be going to the front and that was the last I heard of him till I received these letters – each of them returned and marked killed on every one. Just the same as this one which was a great shock to us all and I will be glad to receive some news as soon as possible. Dated 26 January 1916.

Pte Edward Louis Shaddock (1910=1959) Service No VX35427. 2/6 Battalion AIF. Served in Middle East April 1941-May 1942, New Guinea October 1942 to September 1945 Awarded 1939/45 star, the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal, and the Australian Service Medal.

May we all take a moment this Anzac Day to remember those that sacrificed so much for our freedom. Not just those that served at the front in all our Wars, but also those that stayed at home and waited never knowing what would come. To those that sacrificed through rationing in the first 2 Wars and to those that came home from the Vietnam War with no recognition and little reward. I personally will never forget your sacrifices and continue to give thanks in my own way each and every Anzac Day.

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