My father Walter Arnold Davis, Regimental Number 6107, arrived back in Australia from Gallipoli and France on 21st March 1919. It was only by chance that I applied for his personal war papers after seeing an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph. It was from these that I was able to find out about his war service including the fact that he was sent back to serve in France after only a short recovery time after being shot in the shoulder. He continued to serve for approximately another year before returning home in 1919.
After he returned home, he drew a Soldiers Settlement property at Tarrabandra between Gundagai and Tumut NSW. I am told by relatives of other soldiers that he, with help from neighbours, dragged timber off the hill by means of a draught horse and built a house there for his mother and younger brother. The house has since been demolished. Walter Davis married Braidwood girl Victoria Hush in 1926 and by this time could no longer cope with the farm. Evidently he had also been secretary for the soldier settlers at Tarrabandra from 1919 to1926.
He was a delicate sick man for most of his life moving about from town to town trying to find easy work to support and keep his family together. I was born in 1928 and my brother in 1930. I always remember Dad’s ‘bad turns’ as we called them. He would go into a cold sweat and shake uncontrollably and have associated dreadful headaches. These turns would put him to bed for days at a time. I believe now that he was actually suffering from the symptoms of Malaria that were not commonly diagnosed in those days. He refused to ask for help from the relevant authorities. As I grew up I tried to help my mother make him as comfortable as we possibly could. When I was about 12 years old he had two operations performed on his liver. He gained some comfort from smoking cigarettes he rolled himself although he was never a heavy smoker or drinker.
My fathers brother (my uncle) had grown into a strong man and with him my brother Arch and myself (at approx ages 10 and 12) were able to help out a lot. It was at this stage my father decided to try sheep farming again. He rented a farm in the Blowering Valley near Tumut.
During World War Two the Government was offering Italian prisoners of war to help on farms. Walter applied for four men as our home had ample room to accommodate this number. I remember at this time that the neighbours were far from happy about this arrangement so dad had to do a lot of fast talking to try and convince them that they wouldn’t be harmed. It turned out that these men were also brave soldiers that had served their own country and had only become prisoners of war as they happened to be in Australia at that point in time. He related to the neighbours his own war injury (shot in the shoulder) that they, the Italians, like himself had endured the vagaries of war such as no water to wash or clean your clothes, food scarcity, living with vermin etc. This was the only time he ever spoke of the war and we were under strict instruction never to mention war in our house.
When the farm lease expired which was about the same time his mother died, he moved us all to “Burnside” at Gilmore which he rented for some six years. During this time he made enough money to set his brother (who had married at this stage) up on a small farm at Lacmalac. He also bought a small farm for my brother near Adelong. At this stage I had married Colin Myers and we had a baby boy who was about two years old. My father idolized this baby boy and when I was pregnant again we just hoped that he would live long enough to see this second grandchild born. His health deteriorated quickly and he died on 27th February 1956 aged 61, just some 3 ½ months before his grand-child (a daughter) was born on 22 June 1956.
My mother and father stayed together for their whole married life. After my mother died in 1965 I searched for Dad’s war medals but unfortunately came up with nothing. Neighbours told us that he got rid of them because he was terrified that his own son Arch would follow his father’s footsteps straight into the Second World War. This attitude prevailed with all aspects of his history in regard to his time of service in the First World War and is reflected in the fact that no memorabilia or documented history of his time in service existed in our household.
Marjorie Julia Myers (nee Davis)