|Deb Dufel during her Top End travels in Australia|
Anyway, she mentioned she was coming back to Australia to visit the War Memorial in Canberra again to do some more research for a story set in Australia during World War 2.
I was intrigued so we talked some more and I asked if she’d like to visit us on the LoveCats and tell us about her project!
Over to you, Deb!
|Canberra War Memorial, K. Campisano|
Thanks, Sharon! I was really excited when you invited me to visit.
Three years ago, I had no clue that Australia was literally the front line of the war. As I settled into my Australian life and we travelled across the top end of Australia we found various war memorials and we learned. Our friends shared a bit more history.
Then, one day, a friend pushed a USB drive across the table, and said, “These are copies of my grandfather’s letters during WW2 and while in Changi-Changi prison.”
Though he had survived the camp where only 1 in 1000 had, he never quite made it back. In the fifties, men were told to “just pull yourself together, mate.”
Unfortunately, my friend and I shared an experience – her grandfather and my father suffered from what we now call PTS. Neither man spoke of their experiences. And neither was able to live life to its fullest in the aftermath.
An idea for a book set in WW2 Australia blossomed. In the beginning, I thought I’d follow the soldier line, and then more and more people shared their stories, including 90-plus-year old sisters, Edna and Greta, who had lived on an outback station. These women, who are cultured, beautiful and side-splittingly funny, shared their deepest fears, and we held hands and spilled tears for the men and women who never returned.
One day, Edna invited me to teach her how to use her new IPad. Her sister was visiting from the homestead and so for two hilarious hours they taught me! Edna had set morning tea on verandah where we adjourned after the computer lesson. I was invited to “play mother” and later they admitted they wanted to see if I could pour properly.
Greta, the younger sister by 10 months, asked what I did. Edna stepped in and said, “She’s discovering what us old bats did during the war.”
They started to laugh, and then took turns telling me one of their favourite stories - how they made bullets and shot them! Apparently, Edna made the best bullets since she measured the black powder.
“Greta just dumped it the casing,” Edna said. “It was a waste - plus the kick knocked me on my bum.” She grinned. “But it was fun watching all the boys run when you came out with Da’s gun,” she said to her sister, before turning to me to say, “Gret is still a crack shot.”
They lifted their delicate tea cups in salute to each other, their eyes twinkling with mischief.
Then they sobered. “Remember when the wireless man came with the telegram?” one of them asked. Seventy years had passed since the arrival of a telegram announcing the death of their “baby” brother on some far shore, but the pain hadn’t eased for these two sisters.
|Wall of Poppies, Karen Campisano|
A visit to the War Memorial in Canberra tore my heart. So many Australians gave their lives to the rest of the world. And yet, little is known of the women and men of the Land. The focus of my research subtly shifted again, to these unsung heroes.
If you wish please, contact me, Deb Dufel, at WMB_1941@yahoo.com