Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can have the most profound impact on lives.
In April 1900, 22-year-old Walter Richardson enlisted in the NSW Imperial Bushmen and served in the Boer War. After a year in South Africa, he returned to Australia, settling in the NSW town of Cootamundra, before moving to Sydney after his wife died.
When the First World War broke out, Walter, now 37 and a widower who had recently remarried, enlisted in the 3rd Australian Naval and Military Expedition Force. He spent the duration of the war serving in Rabaul and New Britain in what is now Papua New Guinea, before being medically discharged in November 1919 as a sergeant.
Fifteen years later, Walter died and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Walter’s widow Emma applied to the Repatriation Commission for his death to be recognised as attributable to war service, but it turned her down. As a result, Walter was not given an official war grave; in fact, his grave was completely unmarked and there was no funeral service. He died when his two sons Norm and Ossie were just 14 and 4 years old respectively.
Finally, in 2019, Norm & Ossie’s advocate, Peter Ryan was finally successful in having their father’s grave recognised as an official war grave. In 2019 a special poppy service and dedication was to be held. Ossie, who is an 89-year-old Korean War veteran and his wife Val were able to attend, thanks to transport assisted by Bravery Trust, but Norm, a 99-year-old veteran of the Second World War who lives in Queensland, was unable to make the journey because he was too frail.
Bravery Trust stepped in to pay for professional filming of the ceremony so that Norm wouldn’t miss out.
The story does not end there. Norm was diagnosed with heart failure and his family were told he would not get out of hospital. Yet, astonishingly here he is still in his own home months later. He also survived major bowel surgery.
Ossie contacted Bravery Trust because he desperately wanted to see his older brother Norm before either of them passed away. Bravery Trust drove to NSW central coast to pick up Ossie and he spent time with Norm.
“The impact of Bravery Trust’s kind assistance has made a huge impact on their final years as they have had the satisfaction of attending their father’s War Grave dedication – either in person for Ossie and by video for Norm,” says Norm’s grand-daughter Tracey Anderson.
It’s brave to ask for help
If you, or someone you know is in financial hardship, a current or former member of Defence and has been physically or mentally impacted by service. Call us on 1800 BRAVERY (1800 272 837).
The bravest journeys can’t be taken alone.