Father never mentioned his World War I service
Anzac Day is especially poignant three sisters formerly of Matamata.
Their father, a returned soldier, died the day after Anzac Day, with a poppy above his bed, in 1973.
Talking about their dad made them wish he was there with them.
‘‘Even if they would be 120, you never stop missing them,’’ one of David William White’s daughters, Christine Clay, said.
Clay and her six other siblings didn’t know their father was a World War I veteran until he was posthumously awarded a commemorative medal.
Years after he was awarded the medal, Wyatt found her father’s war diary, which she has transcribed.
He wrote of his disappointment whenever he didn’t receive a letter from home while he was serving in the Dardanelles from April 17, 1915, to April 11, 1916.
It made Wyatt quite emotional when
for she read about that.
‘‘He would write ‘still have not received any letters from home’ and I just thought ‘you poor bugger’.’’
He did note that socks his sister knitted him would be more suited to a ‘‘giant’’.
Wyatt, Clay and their sister, Jennifer Crosbie, were in Matamata for the Anzac Day dawn and cemetery services. Their father is buried in the RSA section.
His brother, Peter, died serving in the war, which Wyatt said must have been horrible for her father. ‘‘If I had one wish, if I popped my clogs tomorrow, I would have liked to place a flower on my uncle’s grave,’’ she said.
She doesn’t think she will ever be able to do so because Beersheba cemetery, where he is buried, is too close to the dangerous Gaza Strip. However, they do know exactly where he is buried.
Wyatt put her name in the ballot to go to Gallipoli for the service this year but her name wasn’t pulled out. However, one of White’s great-granddaughters was successful.
One of White’s grandsons has previously been to Gallipoli with the police force for Anzac services. He wore White’s medals at a dawn service in Palmerton North. The late uncle’s medals were worn by another family member to another service. The sisters all wore replicas of their father’s medals, including the rare Gallipoli Star medal, to Saturday’s services.
The sisters were glad the younger generation was getting involved in Anzac services and learning about the war.
‘‘They are learning more about it than we ever did in school. It was never talked about,’’ Wyatt said.
She didn’t think the younger generation could go away to war at the age, 21, their father did – 21-year-olds these days wouldn’t want to get out of bed, let alone sit in wet trenches’’.