Monday, 25 April 2011

Anzac Day

Back in 1986 we were travelling through France with our three young children.  In our possession were copies of letters written by Private William O'Brien, given to us by one of his relatives.  We were on our way to Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery, at Vaulx-Vraucourt in Northern France.

Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery at Vaulx-Vraucourt

Our daughter, then 13, was reading the letters out loud as we drove through the countryside in an attempt to find his grave.  As she was reading his final letter, out of the corn fields this little cemetery appeared.  The whole experience was so moving that I still remember it as vividly as if it was yesterday.

Willie O'Brien was one of 10 children whose widowed mother struggled to keep the family business afloat in the early 1900s.  His remarkable story can be read here.  The family business survived, no thanks to the banks which in those days thought a widow with ten children was perhaps a poor risk.  The company was Defiance Flour Milling Company, soon to become a Queensland icon.

So here's to the memory of a remarkable young Australian, Willie O'Brien, who died 94 years ago last Friday, at the tender age of 20.  Lest we forget.

1 comment:

Chrisy said...

This is so interesting....I know some of the 'Defiance' O'Briens and will send this link to off to read some more...