United by con­flict

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Legacy has played a large part in the life of Horsham res­i­dent Joan Kro­ker, 97, of Horsham whose hus­band Alan ser­viced and re­paired dam­aged air­craft dur­ing the Sec­ond World War in Dar­win and later over­seas. She knows first­hand the care and benefits to war wi­d­ows and their de­pen­dants from the na­tion­wide vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion formed af­ter the First World War. Mrs Kro­ker, now in Sun­ny­side Lutheran Retirement Vil­lage and al­most blind, urges peo­ple to do­nate dur­ing Legacy’s Badge Week, from September 1-7, so the work can con­tinue. FAYE SMITH re­ports –

Joan Kro­ker, a Legacy war widow be­cause of her hus­band Alan’s war ser­vice, has links to one of Aus­tralia’s great co­in­ci­den­tal war sto­ries.

Her fa­ther Robert Hutchin­son fea­tures in an Aus­tralian War Memo­rial First World War pho­to­graphic poster used na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally thou­sands of times.

The mag­nif­i­cent black and white photo shows five Wim­mera sol­diers in a cap­tured Turk­ish trench at Gal­lipoli. It was a mir­a­cle the photo sur­vived. The cam­era and its leather case were re­trieved from bat­tle­field mud af­ter the war and eventually sent to the Stawell ad­dress at­tached.

The rusted cam­era was put aside in a tin shed until the 1950s when the mother of the sol­dier who took the photo discovered it con­tained an un­de­vel­oped film and de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate.

The re­sult cre­ated First World War pho­to­graphic treasure and soon drew the at­ten­tion of the Aus­tralian War Memo­rial.

The photo took pride of place on its

First World War poster. Ted Free­man of Stawell, Ge­orge Cle­ments of Dim­boola, Jim Bryant of Stawell, Sam Wil­son and Pri­vate Hutchin­son of Wail fea­ture in the pic­ture.

Pri­vate Robert Hutchin­son had en­listed in the 8th Bat­tal­ion in 1914 and af­ter train­ing at Broad­mead­ows and in Egypt was among Aus­tralian sol­diers in­volved in the dis­as­trous Gal­lipoli land­ing on April 25, 1915.

But that morn­ing A Com­pany cap­tured a Turk­ish trench and an­other Wim­mera sol­dier pho­tographed Pri­vate Hutchin­son and his mates in it.

Pri­vate Hutchin­son was later wounded in the Sec­ond Bat­tle of Krithia and spent time in hos­pi­tals in Malta and the United King­dom be­fore be­ing dis­charged as med­i­cally un­fit in 1916.

When home he formed Horsham RSL and was its in­au­gu­ral pres­i­dent.

He also formed the town’s first Scout group and was its first Scout mas­ter.

But by 1918 heavy loss of life in France and Bel­gium meant a fur­ther call for men and Robert Hutchin­son re-en­listed.

This time it was in the 15th Aus­tralian Light Horse where he served as a sergeant in Egypt train­ing Sikh sol­diers until the end of the war.

He re­turned again to civil­ian life and was with the Shell Com­pany in Horsham for 25 years.

Dur­ing the Sec­ond World War he was a part-time in­struc­tor at Horsham’s army bar­racks.

Robert Hutchin­son, the man at the front of the fa­mous trench photo, died in 1964.

Mrs Kro­ker is one of three sur­viv­ing chil­dren. Their brother Robert Jnr has died. • Joan Kro­ker, now al­most blind, met hus­band Alan at a char­ity con­cert. At the time she worked as a sec­re­tary. They were mar­ried 58 years. She has three chil­dren, seven grand­chil­dren and four great grand­chil­dren. • 38 Le­ga­tees vol­un­tar­ily care for 170 wi­d­ows across the Wim­mera and South­ern Mallee. • Legacy Badge Week is a ma­jor fund raiser with all money raised spent on benefits for war wi­d­ows. • Help might in­clude pay­ment of small bills, or­gan­is­ing med­i­cal help or equip­ment and en­sur­ing wi­d­ows know of their en­ti­tle­ments. • There are no govern­ment grants. • It is a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion set up in 1923 by ex-ser­vice­men. • There are 4000 Le­ga­tees na­tion­wide who care for 58,000 wi­d­ows and de­pen­dants of Aus­tralian ser­vice men and women • Legacy’s motto in­cludes care and com­pas­sion; re­duc­ing so­cial isolation, so­cial sup­port and ad­vo­cacy, and pen­sion sup­port.

CAP­TURED IN TIME: This fa­mous pho­to­graph of Aus­tralian sol­diers in a cap­tured Turk­ish trench on the day Al­lied sol­diers landed at Gal­lipoli has be­come fa­mous worldwide. From back the sol­diers are, Ted Free­man of Stawell, Ge­orge Cle­ments, Dim­boola, Jim Bryant, Stawell, Sam Wil­son and Robert Hutchin­son of Wail. All re­turned home ex­cept Ted Free­man who was killed in ac­tion.

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