I come from a long line of people who have served. My Dad's Dad was on the Western Front in World War 1 and was wounded in 1917 at the Somme. My Mum's Dad was a Rat of Tobruk. I had great uncles at Changi and on the Burma Railway and I am named after an uncle who was with the 2/22nd Battalion [Lark Force] who was killed on the first day of the Japanese invasion there. I had uncles who were in PNG and one who escaped by boat from Malaya as the Japanese poured down to Singapore [he was one of those subject of the book "Heroes Denied].
As with most people of my generation, I grew up with tales of the Wars - Simpson and his Donkey , The Rats of Tobruk, the heroes of Gallipoli and others. Evidence of the Wars and my families heritage was all around me. In the homes of my Granparents and Uncles and Aunties were photographs of young men in uniform. On the wall of Bill Joyce's passage at 55 Orvieto St, Merlynston, was a velvet belt covered in insignia and brass badges of various units that he had broughtback with him from World War 1.
For all that the War's were not really discussed. There was no boasting, nor any claims of glory simply an unsaid endurance of things that were horrible and better left unsaid. They had fought for us, their kids and grandkids, and it was over and time to get on with life.
Mum's Mum, Lil Smith had 13 close family members who went to serve in WW2 - husband and son, brothers and sisters, brothers-in-law. And two of the latter survived Changi and the Burma Railway but came home looking like skeletons. She nursed one brother through the latter stages of lung cancer and my memories of that are of a sick old man, bed ridden and scary. It was only later on that I found out that Alfred Lawrence Carroll had won the Military Medal in World War 1.
I now have a son who is a Staff Cadet at Duntroon [in Kokoda Company] and I am extremely proud of the fact that he has chosen soldiering as a career. I know that he will at some stage after graduation next year be likely to be sent to Iraq or the Solomons or who knows where at that time. And whilst it frightens me I am also aware that he will do his duty and know that the spirits of those brave family members who went before will be standing there shoulder to shoulder with him.