Saturday, 25 April 2015

ANZAC Bruce Wilkins Campbell

At the Australian War Memorial, shining on the dome above the ramparts
photograph by great-grandneice, Dee Gargano 23 April 2018, 18.54

I have only mustered the courage twice to visit my great-uncle's grave at Brookwood Cemetery near London. The endless rows of ended life are daunting despite the ceaseless care bestowed on these Australian sons. 

Bruce and Sid, 1916
It's possible that in 1985 I was the first family member to visit him, almost 70 years after his death, although his brother Sid did attend the funeral for Bruce Wilkins Campbell in this same eerie, peaceful place.

Bruce was the youngest and 13th child of his father William Campbell; the 10th child and 7th son of his mother Rebecca Mary Wilkins. He was 20 years old when he enlisted for service with his brothers Charles Douglas (Chad), Sidney Frederick and Henry John (Harry). 
Soldier #4747
They took the train to Brisbane to register for the 9th Battalion, Queensland's first.  Eldest brother Charles was discharged before departure. After serving in France from 1916, only Harry and Sid returned home. 

Original Brookwood photograph, 1917
Bruce was wounded in action during the second battle at Bullecourt on 6 May 1917. He was paralysed by gunfire and shipped to the National Hospital in London, where he died a month later. 

Thy Will Be Done

The family's devastation is recorded in two places - Port Macquarie, near to Rollands Plains where Bruce was born in 1896 - and Tweed Heads, the border town from which Bruce and his brothers caught the train to Brisbane. 

The Port Macquarie Library has commemorated the service of its town's sons by reaffirming the dedicated World War I Memorial. 'The Memorial was built by public subscription and was officially unveiled in April 1921. Atop the memorial sits a world globe bearing the words "They Crossed the Ocean". 
At Port Macquarie

The associated website commemorates the people behind those names. It is not intended, nor does it claim, to be a definitive biographical source. The information has been researched using publicly available information sources and, in some cases, information contributed by relatives. The scope of the website is strictly limited to the names on the Port Macquarie War Memorial.'

For the Campbell family and its most courageous son, this is a deeply moving tribute and recognition of painful contribution. 

Altar, Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church, Tweed Heads

In a time when large families were common, it was usual practice for names to be inherited down the generations. Two generations passed before his mother and sisters would allow a great-grandson to be named for this dutiful young man.

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