I was 6, too young for the grandparents to explain to me who was in the photo in the hall and why he was wearing a funny hat they called a slouch hat. Mum said simply: “He is just someone who died in the war. Now go outside and play”. His story had to remain a mystery because my Grandies both died that year, but I do remember the bomb shelter that the neighbours had built and the gas masks that hung in the shed.
That photo remained a mystery but it prompted the penning of some lines many years later…………
I gaze down the hall At that picture on the wall, I seem to do so many times a day.
Their battle’s now been won, As they sing in the sun Silent odes to peace that’s come their way.
Aware not of the living, but the dead, I wear furrows ’bout my head, And nightmares are the stuff of my sleep.
Had I but predicted What my fears had depicted, My mates may not be buried now so deep.
I wish that I could go To be with them, for I know I am merely waiting for my time to cease.
But I craved for the fight. Now that picture oft in sight, Shows my loss and their fate: Rest In Peace.
FROM LEFT: Pte Nick Namnik, 2/7th batt. [my father] Pte. Antonio Namnik. Cook. [wounded twice in PNG and returned to serve both times after rehab.] Maj. Dr. Kevin Fagan. [Assisted Weary Dunlop at Changi POW Camp. Brother of Roy Fagan, Deputy Premier of Tasmania. ] [my second cousin]. Pte. Tom Riley and brother Lt. Les Riley of 4th Field Regt. served together from Tobruk to Damascus. [my mother’s brothers].
BLESS ‘EM ALL, BLESS ‘EM ALL, THE LONG AND THE SHORT AND THE TALL ……………….