Troving never ends. As newspapers come online it’s necessary to check them… just in case. Often I have filled the gaps in a story or found evidence that supports earlier findings because a “new” paper has arrived on the scene.
That was the case when the Lang Lang Guardian (1914-1918) came online recently. For the 2013 Anzac Day Blog Challenge, I wrote about my grandfather Les Combridge so it was pleasing to find the following article from June 21, 1918, that adds to his story . It is a report on the return home of two Grantville “fighting men” Trooper Cole and Lance Corporal Combridge. Aside from what I learnt about Les, this article paints a lovely picture of a small town gathering during that time. There is the decorated hall, singing and of course supper…ladies a plate please.
So what can I glean from this article. Firstly, there is confirmation that Les was on the troop ship “Southland“. Also the chair for the night was his future father-in-law, Culmer White. There is a reference to the difficulties faced by returned serviceman and lack of Government support, giving us an idea of the tone of public opinion during those times.
The horrors of war were mentioned but not elaborated upon and it is clear that Les preferred not to speak of his experiences . He was not the only one. Mr Bartells said his boys would not speak of their time in service. He quipped that it was only those that hadn’t been away that would talk about the War.
The saddest part of this article is the speech by Mr Bartells. He told Les that he could “spin yarns” about the bombing of the “Southland” when he was an old man. Les never became an old man. He died 19 years after that night in the Grantville hall, aged 40. He would have take those yarns to the grave.
Despite feeling sad for Les, my mood lifted when I reached the last paragraph. The final item on the agenda was supper and one of the helpers was Miss White. Les married a “Miss White”, Myrtle Rose, daughter of Culmer White. This could have been any one of Myrtle’s three sisters that were also “Miss White” in 1918, but it is nice to think that it could have been Myrtle. That may have been the beginnings of their courtship. They probably went to school together but with Les having been away at war for a couple of years they may have looked at each other differently as they each reached across the supper table for a cucumber sandwich. Les and Myrtle married 15 months later on September 16, 1919.