Yesterday Jack Sue died. Many people wouldn't know who Jack Sue was but you can get some background here. I sure knew who he was, he was a bit of a childhood hero of mine even though I didn't really know his full story until I read his autobiography Blood on Borneo a few years ago. He truly was an amazing person.

This got me thinking about my own family members and their service during the two big wars. I'd done a search of the National Archives for my grandfather Bill's WW1 service record a while ago. He managed to rock up near the end (due to his young age) and then roll his ankle whilst diving for cover during a bombing raid at the village of Merricourt in France with the 4/43rd Battalion. The torn ligaments were enough to have him shipped back to England where the war ended before he was fully recovered. A lucky so and so becuase the French battlefields were hell on earth.

But Bill's brother in law and nephews also did their bit in WW1 and WW2, so last night I did a bit of a search on them all. First up my Great Uncle Charlie who was in the Z force commandos like Jack Sue, but his record hasn't been reviewed yet so I have to wait 90 days to get a copy, if they will release it at all. Likewise his older brother Alfred, a 90 day wait. I was able to find my Great Uncle Berts record though.

Uncle Herb WW2

Bert signed up at the outbreak of WW2 and sailed for the middle east on the Queen Mary with the 2/43 Battalion. He managed to survive the whole war, his left forefinger wasn't so lucky though as he had it shot off in the Battle of El Alamein.

Then I found my Great Great Uncle Thomas's (by marriage) WW1 record. Thomas sailed overseas in 1915 with the 11th Battalion and spent the next 2 years and 10 months on active service until he was finally killed in action at 2pm on 10th August 1918 which is just a lousy 3 months before the war ended. I can't imagine how it would have been for his wife to receive this letter.

Thomas Smith death notice

He did seem to have a propensity for being shot in the buttocks though with his record showing 2 incidents/woundings. Perhaps he liked showing the Germans his butt in a larrikin Aussie way, I'm not sure, sounds like a good story though.

Thomas Smith buttocks

Then one day his wife Marion received all of his personal belongings, which amounted to a wallet with some pictures, his body being buried in France, it wasn't a whole lot to hold onto was it?

Thomas Smith bellongings

Oh sure he got a few medals for turning up like the rest of them but they don't count for much when your husbands dead in a field tens of thousands of miles away does it?

Thomas Smith medals




Irishman said…
Great post man.