Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

In honour of Remembrance Day I am remembering my Uncle.  His is not a story of great valour and great deeds.  He did not die in glorious battle.  He did not die in war.  Nevertheless he did serve and was prepared to make the great sacrifice.  And I think sometimes ordinary stories are interesting ones nevertheless.

I did not know my Uncle.  I am in fact a bit short on aunts and uncles.  I have none now. I did have an aunt once and loved her to bits but she died when I was 14.  My father had three siblings and my mother was an only child, hence the shortage.

My father was the youngest of four children. His oldest sibling was Hazel, my aunt, who I adored. My father had an older brother, Edwin or Ted, who was much loved. There was a younger sister Trixy, but she died of scarlet fever as a baby. Here is a picture of Hazel, Ted and Trixy.

Ted was born 12 September 1926 in Marrickville in Sydney.  As the first son he was named after his father, Edwin.  I suspect his middle name, Oswald,  came from his mother Ethel's side of the family.  Ethel was the second eldest of seven children and she had a younger brother Oswald who was six years her junior.  Ossie, as I think he was called, died the year I was born. 

1926 was the year Queen Elizabeth 11 was born.  And Dame Joan Sutherland.  Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister and Jack Lang Premier.  It was the year Winne the Pooh was first published.  Ethel, Ted's mother was 23 years old, nearly 24.  Hazel her oldest child was about to turn 2.  Her husband Edwin was an Electrical draftsman with the Sydney City Council.

Trixy was born on Boxing Day a couple of years later.  I have a copy of the receipt for her funeral expenses dated 6th January 1930.  Hazel would have been five years old and Ted just three when Trixy died.  These were the years of the Great Depression in more ways than one I imagine.

At the age of 30 Ethel gave birth to my father, Jim.  Ted was nearly nine years old by then.  Four years later Australia entered the Second World War.

There was military history on both sides of the family.  Ted's grandfather on his father's side was in the Navy and had served in WW1.  His grandfather on his mother's side had also served in WW1 in the Army.

Ted's sister Hazel enlisted in February 1943 a couple of months after she turned 18 and served as a Corporal in the General Hospital.  Ted dreamed of being a fighter pilot.  He put his age up and joined the RAAF as quickly as he could at the age of 17 in July the following year.  He spent some time in Queensland during the war.  His rank at discharge a year later was Leading Aircraftman.  Here is a photo of him.

On discharge Ted was given a bit of money to help him on his way.  He set up a model boat building business and my father remembers a beautiful workshop in the garage of their home at Undercliffe.  However someone dobbed him into the local council so that was the end of that.  I think it was then that he went on to get his commercial pilot's licence. 

Ted died a couple of years after the war.  He was just 21 years old.  He and Geoff Hoskins, aged 33, died when their plane crashed south east of Muswellbrook at Black Hill early on the morning of 30 October in 1947.  They were dropping off newspapers for the Sydney Morning Herald.  The Aircraft Accident Report concluded that the "cause of the accident was loss of control probably resulting from the Centre of Gravity of VH-SMJ being considerably aft of the rearward a consequence of the incorrect disposal of the load." 

My father found an article in the Daily Telegraph dated 31 October 1947 that contains gruesome pictures of the plan wreckage and photos of the airmen.

In my search for an image of a Lockheed Hudson type aircraft I came across this interesting article...I think this story bears further investigation.

Who do you remember on Remembrance Day?

1 comment:

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Somehow with flying it's nearly always "pilot error". What a sad and untimely death...and all for the SMH! I know what you mean about a dearth of relatives as you'll see from one of my upcoming Collage posts.