Bring Paul home

Dev­as­tated fam­ily fights for re­mains of fallen sol­dier


THE fam­ily of a sol­dier killed on over­seas ser­vice say they are shocked and dev­as­tated the fed­eral govern­ment has re­jected their bid to re­cover his re­mains.

A let­ter to the fam­ily from Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Min­is­ter Darren Ch­ester de­nied their re­quest for Lance Cor­po­ral Paul Dene­hey’s repa­tri­a­tion.

The sol­dier was a sig­naller in the Spe­cial Air Ser­vice from 1962 to 1965. He died in Bor­neo af­ter a rogue ele­phant gored him dur­ing a pa­trol.

He was buried in Ulu Pan­dan Ceme­tery in Sin­ga­pore, then re­lo­cated to Kranji Ceme­tery in 1975.

Mr Ch­ester wrote that the govern­ment was un­able to find ev­i­dence of a let­ter the fam­ily say was sent to them of­fer­ing three op­tions for his body, one be­ing repa­tri­a­tion.

“I sought all avail­able in­for­ma­tion from a num­ber of sources as well as those you pro­vided in mak­ing my de­ter­mi­na­tion,” he said.

But the dead sol­dier’s sis­ter Sheri Gigliotti, of Emer­ald, said she “vividly” re­mem­bered her mother read­ing the let­ter from the Com­mon­wealth War Graves in Eng­land dated Septem­ber 8, 1975, and re­quir­ing a re­sponse by Oc­to­ber 31.

She said the fam­ily re­ceived the let­ter a month af­ter the clos­ing date.

“They have no ev­i­dence to prove that it didn’t come. I re­mem­ber my mother read­ing this let­ter, and to have an­other de­nial af­ter all these years is just so gut wrench­ing,” Ms Gigliotti said.

Lance-Cpl Dene­hey’s older sis­ter Karen Green­wood said the fam­ily was shocked by the min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion.

“We’re back to square one,” Ms Green­wood said.

“Each time we try to repa­tri­ate him we re­live what Paul went through when he died and it’s hor­rific. We can’t sleep think­ing about the sheer hor­ror he ex­pe­ri­enced.

“For the min­is­ter to not con­sider our fam­ily’s per­sonal grief is just dev­as­tat­ing.”

Former SAS trooper and Aus­tralian Com­mando As­so­ci­a­tion na­tional sec­re­tary John Thur­gar said he strongly be­lieved the op­tion to repa­tri­ate Lance-Cpl Dene­hey was of­fered to the fam­ily.

Men­tone RSL pres­i­dent Barry Lowe urged the min­is­ter to re­con­sider.

Lance Cor­po­ral Paul Dene­hey march­ing with the Spe­cial Air Ser­vice, and (be­low) his sis­ter Sheri Gigliotti and her niece Jade Dene­hey at the Park­dale An­zac me­mo­rial.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.