Chilliwack resident reflects on the relatives he never knew

“From this small community, two brothers, relatives of mine, answered the call when war broke out in Europe in 1914, joined the army and shipped off to fight in France.”

By Richard Linton

Special to The Progress

The day we pause to remember and give thanks to those who have sacrificed and died for our freedom.

In New Zealand where I was born, we call this Armistice Day and though we do have services on this day, our main day of remembrance with a statutory holiday, is on April 25th and we call it ANZAC day.

To young people, these days may not have much meaning, but to us older people, it is a time to reflect on the liberty and freedoms we enjoy in Canada.

As long as there has been recorded history, there have been wars. Country against country, man against man, brother against brother.

With every war, men and women have been called upon to sacrifice up to and including their own lives for the freedom of others.

I would like to focus on one war in particular. World War 1.

New Zealand in the early 1900s was a sparsely populated country of about 800,000 people. Some 60 kilometers north of Auckland was the small town of Warkworth with a population of 500 people.

From this small community, two brothers, relatives of mine, answered the call when war broke out in Europe in 1914, joined the army and shipped off to fight in France.

That far from home, a letter may take several months to arrive in New Zealand.

If these were your boys, you could imagine how you would be anxiously waiting for news from them that all was well.

A faster way of communication was by telegram. These could be delivered in just a few days, but, as a concerned parent, you would not want to see a deliveryman ride up to your farm with a telegram as this would be news of an urgent nature, perhaps that your son had been wounded in battle.

Some time in September 1916, Francis and Emma Linton would have seen this deliveryman ride into their farm at Kaipara Flats and hand you a telegram.

The telegram would have read something like this.

‘The Minister of Defense regret to inform you that your son, Robert Charles Linton has been killed in action in France on September 17th, 1916.’

He was 26 years old.

How grievous for the parents. Who can imagine their thoughts and feelings at that time.

By 1918 the war was drawing to a close.

Francis and Emma must have prayed for the safety of their other son. How they must have longed for this horrible war to be over and that their son may return home.

But that was not to be.

The second telegram informed them that Andrew William Linton, their youngest son, was killed in action on August 14th, 1918 also in France.

He was just 23 years old.

Did that war teach us anything?

I guess not.

We were back into another world war in 1939, just 21 years later and wars have been going on ever since.

However, there is a memorial in Gallipoli in Turkey, erected in 1934 by the Turkish government, where the Australia, New Zealand and allied forces battled the Turks for eight months with no result for either side at a cost of 40,000 allied and 86,000 Turkish soldiers killed.

The memorial reads:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours…

You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now living in our bosom and are at peace.

After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

The ANZAC dedication reads as follows:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We will remember them

We will remember them

Can we repay them? How can you repay a man who has given the ultimate sacrifice?

Perhaps by living as peaceable people showing love and concern for all people of all countries, races, creeds and religions.

There is a song written by Eric Bogle and sung by Scottish Canadian, John McDermott called ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’

You can find it on youtube.

Listen and reflect on its message.

Read my message here, play the song then put your life on ‘pause’ for a moment of silence and remember.

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