Clement was a school teacher when Grandma married him.
She was from the country as well. Her folks moved to Dubbo when they retired, but I'm not quite sure where they were living then. Gulargambone or Wellington rings a bell.
Clem joined the army straight after they were married and served in France in WWI. They were to be married a mere six months. At least they had a wedding night. I hope it was a wonderful one.
She was living in Penshurst, a suburb of NSW, the next suburb on from where I grew up as a teenager, a young bride of six months when she received this telegram from the War Office.
The officials also sent her this.
I was 12 when she passed away, and by then she had married for the third time and was living on an apple farm outside Coonabarabran. I had not reached the age where I might have ventured into "But why Grandma?" conversations.
The story goes that she had to be pushed to attend a lonely hearts dance as a War Widow and there she met my grandfather, a returned soldier. Leo.
We have the piece of paper that was pinned to him as he was evacuated from the beach today 100 years ago at Gallipoli. He took two bullets in the buttocks! Were they Turkish bullets or bullets from Australian or New Zealand troops? Was there a general hail of metal flying around?Had he turned to run in fear and confusion?
I only learned that this morning when I asked to see the actual document. What was this poor 23 year old doing? This lad who had left home at the age of 12 to live with an aunt because he found his mother's seances too unsettling?
They went on to have five children, four boys and a girl. I'm descended from the middle child, a boy who treasures his father's memory, all the more because Leo died at an early age from a burst appendix, just before that middle child's tenth birthday.
Maudie had a lot of pain in her long life. If we asked her which of the three men in her life had she wished for, I wonder ...?
'Lest We Forget'