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.