Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Father Arthur William White

Back between the 1930's and 1960's people accepted their lot in life and got on with making the best of what they had. Excuses weren't made nor complaint's voiced. My father emigrated alone from England when he was twenty. He met my mother who lived at home with her parents in Leeton, and they married. The years were lean and hard yet people were resilient and pulled together. Food was carefully prepared and all was eaten, not wasted or thrown away. Clothes got handed down and reshaped or cut to fit the next wearer. I once had a dress made out of an old curtain. All was mended, cared for and cherished. The Second World War began so my father volunteered and went off to help fight for his country. Mother was left behind as were many others to keep the home and care for the children. She had my three elder brother and sisters. Pop went first to the Middle East and on his return he was sent to the Kakoda Trail in P.N.G. to prevent the Japanese from penetrating Australia. Conditons were harsh with a lack of food, wet cold weather, the enemy and malaria carrying mosquito's. None of this was spoken about on his return home. He passed away in 1981 taking his memories with him. My younger brother Ralph, now retired, set about trekking the Kakoka trail to hopefully experience and understand what our father had been through. This firsthand reality imprinted a different understanding upon my brothers mind. Through my brother, we the rest of my fathers children have come to understand much of our father's personal suffering and torment. I feel so very proud to be his child. Now I see him as an unspoken hero. I love the Ode of Rememberance spoken every day at six in the evening in every Return Soldiers Club in Australia. When the lights are dimmed. The Tapps soulfully play. Then the ODE is recited.
*They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weiry them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.
Lest we forget. *All present repeat... "Lest we forget." (Laurence Bunyon 1914)


  1. Hi Crystal:

    My father turned 18 (the minimum age for enlistment in the States) almost at the end of the War. Like his older brother, he joined the Army and unlike his brother, was never shipped overseas. The War was winding down and dad spent his few months as a military policeman directing traffic and managing drunken soldiers on leave without leaving "home." Getting him to talk about his experiences wasn't too difficult, but I think he felt he didn't have a lot to say because he hadn't actually seen the War first-hand.

    I had a very close friend, though, who passed away about a year ago (I've written about him in "Life by the Numbers," and "For the Two of Us") and he was stationed on board the USS Bonham Richard in the Pacific. His children were never particularly interested in his life but I was, so I asked him frequently to tell me what it was like for him. At first he tried to generalize, but eventually he talked more and more, until it became natural to draw those old memories into the present. I guess I'm the curator of his experiences and I try to pass them on whenever I can. He didn't have a dramatic role to play, or so he said, but he witnessed a lot, including the surrender of Japan. He was "there" in ways I've only seen on film and he brought it to life.

    Thanks for sharing about your father! :-)

  2. Hiya Beggar, Thank you for your reply. I am going to read your post "life by numbers"& "The two of us". My heart goes out to these men, they suffered so much so we could be free and yet have not always been treated with the respect they deserve. I have watched war movies yet seeing is not feeling smelling or touching... it doesn't involve the senses used to give the full experience. My father had lots of photos taken overseas yet somehow they disappeared and couldn't be found after his death. My eldest son resembles my Dad in looks and humour so at least I have him as a reminder of a great man. Its funny but often we don't realise a persons valued until we no longer have them.....Hey I shouldn't be so serious, my dad would have asked me what I am raving on about. Blessings to ya.


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