Lest we forget …

This week we held our ANZAC Day Service to pay our respects to the fallen and current soldiers. Speaking about the loss of her uncle in World War 2, Principal Mrs Davis encouraged all to remember those everyday citizens, including nurses and other female support officers, who risked their lives for our country. Junior School students listened to a touching presentation by Petty Officer Zoe Mack, a Danebank mum who is in the Australian Navy. Lest we forget . . .

"This week, above all others, we will remember all those who served our country, and other countries that form part of our individual family heritage, in times of war. We will remember with pride their courage, their comradeship and their compassion. We will think about men and women, armed forces and those at home who displayed all that we value at Danebank - service to others, enthusiasm for the task at hand, agile minds and bodies and leadership in a variety of challenging and life threatening circumstances.

In World War 2 my father, Jim, and his twin brother, Bill, joined the Australian Air Force as soon as they were old enough. They flew as part of crews from British Empire Air Training Scheme. These crews were from all the nations that formed the British Empire at the time.

Jim Bill Anzac 2019

Jim was a pilot and Bill was a gunner/navigator. Bill was the only Australian in a crew made up entirely of Canadians.  All were flying as part of the British Air Force operations in Europe.

Very soon after 29 June 1944, Jim, who was stationed in England and far from his family received this telegram:

Deeply regret to inform you that your brother F/Sgt William Tudberry failed to return this morning from operations...

Letter following...

Please accept my profound sympathy... Any further information will be wired to you immediately pending written confirmation from Air Ministry - No information  should be given to the press.

On the same day Jim’s mother received a similar telegram. Five months later Jim and his mother receive a letter confirming that Bill had lost his life and was buried in Paris.

The following year, Jim and his mother received another letter saying that Bill was not buried in Paris but at Feigneux, about 40 miles from Paris.

Two years later, in July 1947, Jim’s mother received another letter with more details about the death of her son Bill. In part the letter says:

Individual identification of your son was established and his remains are interred in the far right hand corner of the cemetery, Grave no 3.

The graves of all members of the crew are well kept and are maintained with planted flowers and china wreaths.

A temporary cross has been erected over your son’s grave and at a later date it will be replaced by a permanent headstone to be erected by the Imperial War Graves Commission which will then care for and maintain the grave in perpetuity.

Anzac-day

After the war, in 1947, Mrs Elizabet Huraux, resident of Feigneux, wrote to the families of those who been buried at Feigneux:

‘The German soldiers forbade anyone to come near the crash. I went to the German commandant to ask for permission to bury the dead. “It was difficult,” he answered. I asked him to let me take the place of their mothers or wives and he decided to give me authorisation.  I made seven coffins, seven sheaves of flowers, with blueberries, with lilies and red roses. The weather on the funeral day was superb when we went through the village to the cemetery. The coffins were placed in a farm cart. The only sound was of the horses’ hooves. The people of the village formed a guard of honour on the route of our journey. Then, at the edge of the graves, there was a moment I will never forget: all was simple and memorable.

There is now a poster above the graves in both English and French and a statement written by the local priest reads:

Allied bombers fallen at Feigneux

A (Canadian) bomber plane was machine gunned by a German plane and fell blazing in the Morcourt wood on the night of Wednesday to Thursday 29 June 1944. The seven crew, all of them Canadian were found dead, their bodies intact. They had not jumped with their parachute from high enough and were killed on impact. The bodies were brought to Feigneux and stored in cool conditions in the cellar prison.  

It has been a significant comfort to my family that we know all about the care provided to one of our own by others who did not know him, did not speak our language, but who showed great honor and compassion to Bill in his death and ongoing memory of him.

Throughout the war, as small pieces of information being communicated regarding the fate of Bill, Jim was still stationed in England and still flying bombing raids of Europe.

When he was just 21, in December 1944 Jim Tudberry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for successfully completing a bombing mission over Germany and then managing to land his damaged plane in a field in north eastern France and enabling his complete crew to return safely to England.

On 21 September 1945 James was awarded the bar, a second DFC for his continued bravery. He was seen as a war hero.

Jim Tudberry was my father. The loss of his twin brother in the war had a significant impact on him and his relationship with his mother.

Neither Jim nor his mother ever traveled to France to visit the grave of his brother Bill.

In every ANZAC Day commemoration we are charged to remember those who fought like Jim and those who gave their lives like Bill. Men and women like this are found in every country in every war.

Today I would also ask you to remember those who were not in the armed forces but who took risks like the woman in Feigneux, who asked the Germans if she could bury the bomber crew.

In every country in every war there are civilians who place themselves at risk for the good of others. Some survive and some do not.

I would ask you to remember those whose lives were so torn apart by the tragedy of war that it affected them for the rest of their lives.

Men and women like this can be found in every country in every war. We will remember them…

Mrs Maryanne Davis, Principal