Monday, April 13, 2009

fog of war

There's always a Rottnest connection somewhere. We've been reading Neville Green's excellent new book Western Australian Teacher Soldiers of World War I 1914-1918. As you'd expect, there are many sad stories among the 172 men and one woman who were at Claremont Teachers' College and at the war.

Some of the entries are very brief, but there's this in Gordon Gemmell's entry: his friend Marcus Anderson recalls staying with his freind at York in 1912. The next time Anderson sees him is in 1918, on the Somme:

"I looked at Gordon's body. His skin was as fair in death as in life. He had been killed by a bullet through the forehead between the eyes. I gazed at his body and my thoughts ran to the past, to those very happy days I spent with him and his family at York in Western Australia. I grieved sorely for his mother and family. Again I express my horror and repugnance of this cruel and senseless slaughter of innocent victims, whether they be friend or foe."

One who came back alive was Thomas Sten. We're surprised a cottage on Rotto isn't named for him. He enlisted 21 June 1916, wounded in France 10 February 1917, back in Australia 6 September 1919. By 1951, as well as being state president of the RSL, he was the president of the Australian Associated Youth Committee, Royal Perth Hospital chairman, and chairman of the Rottnest Island Board.

Nice Lincoln Baker photo in the weekend's story about the beach fog here. Best quote in the story: "I thought Rotto was on fire."

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