General Category > Musings from the Colonies.

The Wild Colonial Boy went to the wars.......


......... his sword and shield before him.

I know, I know, Ive mixed up two ballads there, but they wont come right  in my head.  I think the Wild Colonial Boy was Irish, and had a lot to do with the demise of Ned Kelly, in Australia.

But I remember him, as we should all remember at this time, the millions of soldier boys, who have gone off to war,sailors and airmen, men and women.

I joined a group a few years ago, called 'Chosen Soldier'. We were given a name from a list, and put together a box, filled with probably unobtainable goodies, for them serving in a war zone.  Such fun to go shopping for them. I put in comic books, notepads, bags of candies, pens, pencils, chocolate, pancake mix, packets of sauce mixes, gloves, socks, hockey cards, so much, for my boy and his six men in his team. 

I sent my box, free, through the local airbase, and received a hastily written note, ages later, of thanks. He couldnt email, he only had ten minutes a week on a computer for personal stuff, so my letter was treasured. Then I heard in a news report he had been killed, with his six chosen men, by a roadside bomb.

I was devastated.

I remember too my grandfather. He joined the Territorial  Army in London, and in 1916 was sent to Ireland,to tidy up after an uprising. Then he went to the Front. but was soon sent off to Palestine and then Egypt. He was a Lewis Gunner, following Lawrence around for a while.  He suffered a sprained ankle, pneumonia and heatstroke, not all at the same time, and in 1919 was shipped back home from Alexandria.

He went back into civilian life, as a clerk, for The Montevideo Gas and Oil Company.

His souvenirs were a box of cowrie shells from Egypt, an Australian hat badge, and many stories.

Im sure we all have memories and stories about our relatives, World War 1, WW2;Korea;Vietnam;Afghanistan.

On November 11th, I will take seven yellow roses - one for  each, . my chosen Soldier and his men. I will place them on the Cenotaph, and step back and remember.  We should all remember.

Apologies for any omission in the list of wars.

My grandfather served in the Second World War, based in North Africa and for a while in Crete. I can remember the stories he told me as a child, of cooking eggs on the bonnet of jeeps and of being holed up in a village on the south coast of Crete and they had to walk over the mountains to get to a base to be lifted off. He told me tales of cruelty by the German armies, of villages burned because one family had aided the British soldiers. We visited makrigialos a few years ago, hired a car and stopped for coffee in a village in the mountains. Got chatting to the guy who owned the place and told him that my "pappou" was stationed there. He went out the back and brought his ? Father ? Grandfather to meet us. Not a word was understood between us but he held both my hands with tears in his eyes. I'll never forget it. Wouldn't let me pay for the coffee either !!!!!!!!

My father signed up for the army at 17—he had to have his parents’ permission—but the end of the war was in sight by the time he was trained so he wasn’t sent overseas. Today a Toronto paper has the story of a veteran who went into the merchant navy at 17 and whose ship was sunk while ferrying British soldiers to Italy. As the memoirs of these self-effacing heroes always are, it is understated but packs a wallop:


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