Trenches to the Track story that just had to

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By NATALIE HOLMES

THE story of Pe­ter Bart­ley’s grand­fa­ther Ted was so en­gag­ing that the Dubbo solic­i­tor just had to write it.

Five years in the mak­ing, “Trenches to the Tracks” tells of Ted Bart­ley, whose World War I ser­vice took him to the trenches of the Western Front, while his rail­way ca­reer sta­tioned him in Wer­ris Creek.

Mr Bart­ley said that although his grand­fa­ther’s mil­i­tary record was in­trigu­ing, it was his life as a whole that served to in­spire the his­tor­i­cal mem­oir.

“I was drawn to his World War I ser­vice, it was very in­ter­est­ing. He re­ceived the Mil­i­tary Medal for courage un­der fire in the field. But when I started to look into his life as a whole I was very keen to delve into his pub­lic ser­vice.

“In all of the com­mu­ni­ties he lived, he made such a dif­fer­ence. There’s a tes­ti­mo­nial from the Par­ish Priest at Wer­ris Creek who said that ‘Ted had built an em­pire of spir­i­tu­al­ity by help­ing peo­ple over­come their hand­i­caps’.

“Af­ter read­ing that, I was hooked.”

Mr Bart­ley has fond child­hood mem­o­ries of his grand­fa­ther, de­scrib­ing him as a ‘gen­tle gi­ant’ who put 100 per cent into ev­ery­thing he did.

“We lived in Syd­ney and ev­ery Easter, Dad would bun­dle us into the old FJ Holden and drive up the old Putty Rd to Wer­ris Creek. It was a mag­i­cal time. Pop’s gar­den was like Alice in Won­der­land. He loved flow­ers and tended to them with such de­vo­tion. He also loved lis­ten­ing to LPS on his gramo­phone. We used to go on pic­nics and to creeks and dams. They lived on top of a hill so there were mag­nif­i­cent views in ev­ery di­rec­tion.

“I loved spend­ing time with him. He al­ways had a mis­chievous glint in his eye and he was a bit of a char­ac­ter, a lar­rikin, and had a wicked sense of hu­mour as a re­sult of go­ing through war. And he was al­ways there for us.”

Ted was the lo­cal or­gan­iser of the Wer­ris Creek AN­ZAC Day marches, in which he would wear his war medals with pride.

He also de­voted his life to Legacy, help­ing those peo­ple who had lost a fam­ily mem­ber to ser­vice dur­ing the war.

“We could see the re­spect in peo­ple’s eyes and the way they spoke to him. We knew there was some­thing spe­cial about him.

“As we got older, we saw more of the pho­tos and mem­o­ries, and over time, got a sense of the his­tory.”

Those war me­men­toes as­sisted Mr Bart­ley greatly when it came to com­pil­ing the book.

“He kept so much; he was very metic­u­lous in that way, news­pa­per re­ports, he also kept a war jour­nal. There was so much ma­te­rial.”

Mr Bart­ley de­scribed the jour­ney of writ­ing the book as in­tensely sat­is­fy­ing.

“There was a story to tell, and it’s not just a story of a man, it’s a story of his in­volve­ment in the com­mu­nity, his ap­proach to life af­ter the war. And they had seen such ter­ri­ble things dur­ing the war that they felt they had to give some­thing back to peace when they re­turned; to make Aus­tralia a bet­ter place through his ef­fort.

“My grand­fa­ther cer­tainly achieved that. He started a RSL sub-branch, he built sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties and just im­mersed him­self in the com­mu­nity.

“He was a born or­gan­iser who had a gift of or­gan­is­ing some­thing. He also passed on that legacy of com­mu­nity in­volve­ment.”

Although he felt his grand­fa­ther’s story was one that had to

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