Feature

Ningi resident remembers grandfather's bravery in France

Alf Porter looks at a photo of his father from about 1915 when in was enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force.
Alf Porter looks at a photo of his father from about 1915 when in was enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Vicki Wood/sbr071112remember

AT A passing glance, the stack of paperwork piled on Alf Porter's kitchen table might not mean a lot, but it reveals a deep insight into his family.

The Ningi resident's grandfather, Albert Ernest Hobson Wilmot, was in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War.

Albert was 27 when he enlisted on September 26, 1915 in the 16th Reinfs, 3rd battalion and went on to serve in France.

In keeping with family tradition, Albert's brother also served in the First World War and his two sons served their country during the Second World War.

"I thought it was marvellous, to think what any soldier or any person like they do today, would do to go and fight for what they consider to be right," Alf said.

Alf was lucky enough to learn a bit more about his grandfather's war experience through his diary.

"I remember in the diary he wrote - some of it was legible, some of it wasn't - there were things you just couldn't believe had happened," Alf said.

"He wrote about how he went through the trenches where other men were slaughtered and died and how they had to get through.

"There's an entry that talks about one day when both sides - Germany and the Australian soldiers - were fighting when they had what was called a rest day.

"He went into the town to get some bread, because that was all they got, but he had to get out of town quickly because the Germans came in to buy their bread too."

Like most soldiers, Alf said neither Albert or his sons spoke much about what they had gone through.

"He didn't talk too much about it all. Most of them didn't," he said.

"My grandfather Wilmot, he never said much about it at all. He wanted to forget it. He came home gassed. His brother came out of it in a reasonable condition.

"Even the oldest son, he (Albert junior) went to war. It was him and 12 others in a pit when they were fighting Japan. There must have been about 200 or 300 Japanese soldiers around the perimeter, and there were only about 12 Australian soldiers, and they thought they would all get killed. That was the only time he spoke about it because he thought they were all definitely going to die. But he did what he wanted to do. He wanted to fight for his country, fight for his family as did most of the others."

Alf wasn't born when his grandfather returned from war but he said life was different for the family.

"When he came home it took him a while to get back to normal life," Alf said. "Grandfather Wilmot lived in Auburn in New South Wales and he built a shop in Coalcliff in 1924.

"He died in 1946. He had moved back to Auburn from Coalcliff because he had lost his youngest daughter to diphtheria in 1939, so he closed the shop and moved back.

"He had wrapped himself in a blanket in the kitchen. There was a fire heater on the floor and the blanket caught fire and that was the end of him. The whole place went up."

Albert's youngest son, Ronald Edward Wilmot, is about 88 and still alive, living in New South Wales. He started the paperwork and research trail that has made its way to Alf.

Knowing members of his family went to war, makes days like Remembrance Day even more important to Alf. On Sunday , he will make his way to Bribie Island to be a part of the Remembrance Day service at the Memorial Wall in the RSL grounds in Toorbul St.

Topics:  history, legacy, memories


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