Service won’t be forgotten

LEGACY: Sawtell’s Linda Jones presents family Anzac memorabilia to Sawtell RSL Sub-branch president Dallas Burrage for next month’s Anzac Day service.
LEGACY: Sawtell’s Linda Jones presents family Anzac memorabilia to Sawtell RSL Sub-branch president Dallas Burrage for next month’s Anzac Day service. Contributed

IN SEVEN weeks, Australians across the country will pause in remembrance for the Anzac centenary.

The commemorations, marking 100 years since Australia's involvement in the First World War will be especially close to the heart for Coffs Coast resident Linda Jones.

Linda is one of many residents who have contributed military memorabilia of relatives for the Sawtell RSL Sub-branch's Anzac Day ceremony on April 25.

Linda recalls the legacy her grandfather, Clarence Sydney Smith, and uncle, Clarence Smith Jnr, made in their service to king and country.

"My grandfather was a veteran of the Boer War and he readily enlisted [with the Army Service Corps] when war broke," Mrs Jones said.

In 1914 Clarence bid farewell to his family and later took part in the Gallipoli landings. In his letters bound for home, he described the conditions as "hell itself".

In September 1915 he continued training in the 45th Battalion, where he briefly met up with his son, Clarence Sydney Smith Jr, who had joined the war effort at just 16 years of age.

Clarence then served in France, where he wrote letters detailing miserable days, heavy bombardment at night and the camaraderie with his fellow soldiers.

But on his 48th birthday he passed away from meningitis in England. He was one of 60,284 Australians who died during service in the First World War.

Clarence Jnr was discharged and returned to the family home in Australia.

Linda recalled her young years living with a "quiet" uncle who "never spoke about the war".

"We didn't ask questions," Mrs Jones said.

"There really wasn't a lot of recognition for what they had done for the country - as a society Australia was trying to move on."

Over the decades, Linda's family maintained and updated diaries and memorabilia to ensure their sacrifice and service continued to be remembered.

"We think it's very important to keep the Anzac message going," Linda said.

Sawtell RSL Sub-branch president Dallas Burrage encouraged additional contributions for the service next month.

The sub-branch has also received $3568 in funding under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants program and will perform a re-enactment of the Coo-ee Marches, which gathered recruits from small towns, heading to Sydney for enlistment during 1915-16.

Topics:  anzac day centenary of anzac sawtell rsl war memorabilia

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