Dear Bro Gordon
I am sending you this birthday card, wishing you a happy birthday. I forget how old you are – I think it is about 15 or 16. Anyway, it don’t matter. I suppose you are some boy now, poking out the chest and earning 30/- a week. That isn’t bad money for your age. How are the girls treating you? I bet you are a girl killer by now. If you ever meet that girl I went with from Greta, take her out. Why you could ask mum to invite her up for a weekend. You will find her a nice girl and she might learn you to dance.
Your affectionate bro, George
The card pictured and the text above are from two separate cards by grandfather, George, sent home while he was overseas during World War II. The birthday card (which isn’t nearly as exciting as the Christmas card) was sent in either 1941 or 1942 (depending on whether Uncle Gordon was actually 15 or 16).
What I have always loved about this brief message from one brother to another, is the mention of “that girl I went with in Greta”. That girl is my grandmother and is the only record I have of actual “wooing” among my ancestors.
I have tried writing about my grandfather before but with little success. I become lost in the few years of his life that were WWII. It is also far easier to write about someone you never met than a close relative – that’s my experience at any rate.
Pa, as I knew him, was born in 1921 in Heidelberg, Victoria. From what I can gather, his father picked up work where it was available and as a consequence the family moved frequently.
When Pa enlisted in May 1940, he was 19 years old (although he bumped his age by one year when signing up) and living in Marylands, NSW. He joined 2/1st Pioneer Battalion which was based at the army camp in Greta.
If not for WWII and whatever reasons Pa had for enlisting, I may never have come into being. In Greta, he met Pauline Scarlett – possibly at a dance. They obviously hit it off as the battalion was in Dubbo and then sailing away to Palestine at the end of September 1940. About three months of wooing, give or take.
In May 1942, more than eighteen months later, Pa had two weeks home leave and then another three in November that year. In January 1943, he was granted compassionate leave for five days. This is where I become frustrated with the documents – George and Pauline were married (according to my notes) on 14 February 1943 in Gosford.
Pa spent another two years in the army and was discharged on 1 August 1945. He went back to the Hunter Valley to establish a home with his wife and daughter.