Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Sisters Honour Service

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Sisters Honour Service

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Knowling @capnews.com.au

ANZAC Day this year meant even more than normal for sisters Jeanie Cox and Joscelyn Lobegeiger.

Yesterday's annual tribute to Australia's servicemen and women also marked the release of the second -- and final -- book of their father's diaries of the Second World War.

Entitled Such is War: Diaries of a Signalman, the book contains volumes two and three of Cecil Anderson's war diaries. This latest book covers 1942--43 and includes material relating to the crucial battle at El Alamein in North Africa, among many other battles and engagements.

The first volume, published last year, included the siege of Tobruk.

The sisters have edited their father's words with all the care and love one might expect and the massive task of preparing them for publication has served only to magnify their admiration and respect for him and their fascination with his life.

"It's the way he writes," Joscelyn said.

"Some of the pages (of his diaries) just blow you away."

She said that despite being educated only to Year six, her father had found much pleasure in books and learning about history.

"He read a lot and that's what led to his command of the language. He wanted to be a school teacher but he never got the opportunity."

Of Scottish descent, Cecil Anderson was born in 1908 at Taroom, the second-youngest of eight children.

In the same year, drought forced the family to move away from Kinnoul Station.

In the 1920s while based in Sydney, he worked as a merchant seaman and, in 1933, he joined the Cracow gold rush and lived a harsh existence in search of a fortune that did not come.

Later, he and a brother bought a beef and dairy property at Theodore.

Aged 32, he enlisted at Rockhampton and was drafted into J Section Signals, 20th Infantry Brigade, 9th Division, AIF.

He sailed for war on the troopship Queen Mary on October 20, 1940.

Jeanie said her father had spent the whole three years of his campaign in North Africa.

She said that keeping the diaries had enabled him not only to describe what he saw during the conflict but also to express thoughts, opinions and feelings about the war, the people fighting it and what it did to the places in which the war was being fought.

"It's not as if there was a battle every day, so he had time to reflect on the land and its people," Jeanie said.

Coming from a rural background in Central Queensland, he made many references to the land and the impacts of people and machinery on it, often in a highly sensitive -- almost poetic -- manner.

The sisters said there had also been a significant element of risk in their father's decision to maintain his diaries during the war.

The keeping of diaries was not allowed and would have been especially frowned upon given his role in signals, maintaining communications between commanders and the front line. …

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