Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)
TITLE: A turn of events
By Anne Linington
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Cromwell and Carl emigrated from Wales to Australia in 1911, and signed up for service in 1914, initially enhancing both their ages to enable them to enlist together. Ultimately Carl was killed at the end of the war, and the documentary showed an emotional Rolf coming to terms with news of this uncanny coincidence between real life and his recording.
Another pair of brothers, my Grandfather George King and his brother Osborne also planned to emigrate to Australia together before the war, and would no doubt have signed up together as the Harris brothers had done. In the event James married Violet and moved to Naas, Southern Ireland, whilst Osborne carried out the plan of emigrating to Australia.
Naas is twenty-one miles south-west of Dublin, and on 24th April 1916 Dublin Post Office was bombed, in what is now known as The Easter uprising. Anxious about my grandfather's whereabouts when the bombing was heard, my grandmother went into premature labour. She gave birth the following day, a snowy Easter Monday 25th April 1916, to premature twins, John my father, and William. They were placed in shoe boxes surrounded by cotton wool as makeshift incubators, and a goat was later purchased as the twins were unable to digest cows milk.
Four weeks earlier, on the other side of the world, Osborne enlisted in the 28th Batallion of the Australian army. He sailed for Europe from Freemantle on the HMAT Surada on 26th September 1916. No doubt he and others like him were at sea for several weeks, but he was killed in action exactly six months after sailing, on 26th March 1917. Although there is no known grave, he is remembered on three separate war memorials in three different countries: the Australian War memorial, Canberra; the memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France, and in the Hampshire village, England where his name can be seen on the grave of his parents James and Sarah King.
Whether Osborne ever knew of his twin nephews arrival I can't be sure. However, last year another generation of “Kings” visited the Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire borders to discover the places in which our ancestors lived, went to school, worked, married and are now buried. Included in the itinerary were moments spent acknowledging Private Osborne King's ultimate sacrifice. As eleven of us stood around, including sons, daughters and grandchildren of John and William, there was quiet recognition that if George had emigrated with Osborne as planned, none of us would have been born.
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