Ooh, La La!!!

 

 

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I have very mixed feelings about all the hype surrounding the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, but share the deep sorrow most feel for the terrible loss of life on both sides. I was always told dad served at Gallipoli but he never discussed details of his service and the Archival record is incomplete. Certainly he enlisted on 25 April 1915 and sailed from Sydney in mid July, so he could well have been involved with 2nd Battalion in the latter stages. It is a question awaiting an answer.

Anzac Day was truly the ‘one day of the year’  in our family. Dad would return home from the march very inebriated, sometimes jubilant, sometimes inconsolably emotional or withdrawn, occasionally very argumentative. I recall as a boy lining up in the crowds with my mother and sisters to wave flags as the men and bands marched by and, years later, driving dad and a few of his mates to the Dawn Service at the Sydney cenotaph and picking them up after the reunion, ‘Well out the heads’, as dad would say. They are some of the most powerful memories of my younger days and only possible because he survived.

Here are a few photographs showing dad celebrating the occasion with some of his returned comrades. The top one is labelled, dad is in the middle of the one below and in ‘Ooh La La !!!’ he is first on the left next to the man at the head of the table.

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Mum, Dad and the Scowling Author

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This photograph was taken at 536 Illawarra Rd Marrickville, at the Cook’s River end near the Undercliffe Bridge. Dad would’ve been about fifty and mum in her late forties. It is not so remarkable today for a woman to give birth in her mid forties, but it was then and one (or both) of us was not expected to survive. The house was opposite a garbage tip (now Steele Park) and prone to flooding: the best they could afford at the time. Mum’s father, a farmer in the Liverpool area, was embezzled by a crooked solicitor, who subsequently committed suicide. She was forever rescuing errant brothers from hard times by selling off such small portions of land as remained. Dad was owed money, which was never repaid.