Soldier’s lost letter reaches daughters after 97 years
BANGALOW First World War soldier Alfred Ernest Davidson's letter to his mother remained lost to the family for more than 97 years.
It was only by chance that David Carswell spotted it stuck to the bottom of an antique table that had been thrown into a rubbish skip in Brisbane.
Intrigued by the letter, he saved it from destruction and set out to reunite it with the family.
"I would love to see this reunited with the person's ancestors as it is a very touching personal letter from a young man to his mother following what would have been a harrowing campaign," Mr Carswell said.
After looking up Mr Davidson's war service records and discovering he was a Bangalow boy, Mr Carswell contact the Byron Bay RSL Sub-Branch who mentioned it at a meeting with the Bangalow RSL Sub-Brach secretary Col Draper who recognised the name from the Bangalow memorial and cemetery.
On Friday, the 97-year-old letter was handed over to Mr Davidson's three living daughters Barbara Ryan, Edna Davidson and Miriam Arthur.
"When I first heard I felt quite overwhelmed and thought was it really true?" Ms Ryan said.
"I was actually quite emotional and thought it was a bit unbelievable really that the letter has turned up after 97 years."
Ms Davidson said she felt quite emotional because the letter brought back a lot of memories.
"Though we have a lot of memories, a lot of literature from the war that my mother kept, to think that after 97 years, that fate could work out like that," she said.
Ms Arthur said she was thrilled that someone had taken the trouble to retrieve the letter out of the skip.
Mr Davidson was a 21-year-old Bangalow farmer when he embarked on the HMAT Anchises on January 24, 1917 from Sydney.
He was a private in the 34th Battalion AIF which took part in its first major battle, the battle of Messines, launched on June 7, 1917.
After several stints in the trenches, and a period of rest and training, the battalion entered battle again on October 12 around Passchendaele.
The battle ended in disastrous defeat, with more than 50% casualties to the battalion.
THE LETTER IN QUESTION:
"My dear mumy (sic), just a short note to let you know, I have received orders to be in readiness for a draft which is to go to Weymouth to catch a boat for dear old Australia which is to sail in about 3 weeks time. I have volunteered to go home on a hospital ship as a orderly for the purpose of looking after sick and wounded soldiers. There is no doubt mum God has revealed himself to us in all his glory. Don't you think? So all being well and God be willing I will be with you all early next year we will then be able to praise God for all his great goodness and lovingness to us all. Give my love to dear old dad and the girls."
Written in England on 25/11/1918