Trenches to the Track story that just had to
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