We have just begun four years of commemoration of those who served in WW1. It seems a bit quaint these days to think that these Australians fought for ‘The British Empire’, but that was the feeling of patriotism at the time.
My grandfather, Walter Wilson was a Sergeant in the 57th Battalion 1st AIF and he served on the Western Front and the Somme from 1916 to 1918. He signed up in July 1915 at the age of 24 years. He was wounded twice and repatriated back to Australia in 1919 after the end of the war.
On Saturday, I, along with 22 other of his descendants visited his grave at the Box Hill Cemetery to affix a commemorative poppy tile to his headstone.
The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, with the support of the Returned Services League of Australia is encouraging families to renew their links to their family members who enlisted in WW1 by placing one of these tiles on their gravesite. Those who returned from the Great War to live out their lives in the community, and are buried in our cemeteries, are not recognised unless their family has recorded this fact in their inscription.
The Poppy Tile Project have produced a decorative kit which includes two small, highly glazed white porcelain tiles with a striking red Flanders Poppy printed onto the surface. It comes in a cassette, similar in size to a CD cover. The packaging features the original Flanders Poem plus the Ode of Remembrance and shows images of the Flanders Fields.
I purchased one of the tiles for my Grandfather’s grave and then rather than just plonk it on by myself, I made a decision to contact others in the family, some of whom I had not seen for years. I am so glad that I did. Getting together has rekindled some old relationships, especially with my cousins Carey and Meredith. We have already begun an exchange of family photos and historical material.
I spent many hours researching my Grandfather’s war history and you can read a summary of his service in the 57th Battalion by downloading this linked PDF File. If you would like some help as to how to find out about an ancestor’s war service, please contact me. Orders for the poppy tile can be made here