D'Arcy Lewis Neale
by Sandra Thorman
My maternal grandfather, D'Arcy Lewis Neale was a special bloke who fought in WW1. Born in 1891 he was a typical Aussie who didn't talk about the scourge of war and the suffering they all endured. When he returned home from France he just got on with his life to the best of his ability. He married, helped raise a family of 4 and when the time came he enlisted and served in WW2 as well. He died in 1961 and his ashes are interred in a memorial garden for returned soldiers in Adelaide South Australia.
Attached is a picture of him with his brother who also served in WW1 and his military portrait from WW2. He was retired from the military in 1943 (due to his age) but chose to continue contributing to the war effort in Darwin Northern Territory (isolated from his Adelaide home and family) in a voluntary capacity in an army ordinance unit. I still have the (original) letter he wrote to my mother from Darwin congratulating her on my birth on VJ day 1945.
As I said above he talked little of the hardships they endured but he did mention the cravings. When they were cold, tired, hungry, war weary in their trenches in France he said they didn't crave a fire, a warm bed, sunshine on their faces, a holiday; their craving was for bread - white bread. He said bread seemed to embody all the comforts of home.
I find it a little dispiriting when the returned soldiers from WW1 have their contribution dismissed and/or diminished because they didn't die. In fact the returned soldiers' contribution to our nation was equally heroic - they laid down their arms, got on with the business of living and growing their families and building our nation. They fathered and nurtured the Australians of today. Dying for one's country might be the ultimate sacrifice but living for one's country takes equal courage and mental fortitude. Growing and nurturing a family is a very long business. For example I am reminded of those WW1 survivors who were granted blocks of land to grow fruit in the Waikerie (South Australia) area. And finally a little bit of romantic trivia, my grandfather D'Arcy's partner (after he and my grandmother divorced in the late 1930s) was one Miss Elizabeth Bennett!
Above is a photo of D'Arcy Lewis Neale, WWII.
Below is a photo of D'Arcy Lewis Neale and hid brother, WWI.