Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Mother's Heartache at Loss

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Mother's Heartache at Loss

Article excerpt

Sherele Moody

APN Newsdesk

ON MARCH 12, 1918, Elizabeth Robbins wrote a two-page letter to a stranger in a war office more than 1000km away from her little home in country NSW.

The letter, in a halting, barely legible cursive script, was a simple plea from a kind, devoted mother whose eldest son died in a foreign land surrounded by strangers.

"Dear sir, I am a bad hand at writing under these circumstances," it starts.

The simple eloquent sentence belies the horror and heartache Mrs Robbins would have felt on learning her "good lad" died after being shot in the back during intense fighting on a battlefield in Boulogne, France.

"I, like all mothers who have lost their sons, would like to know about his personal belongings which I know he had some," she continues.

"I only want them for a keepsake in memory of him who was a good lad to his parents."

It is a heartbreakingly beautiful, humble letter laced with civility and politeness.

And it never fails to draw tears from her great-granddaughters Larraine Webster and Georgia Lawrance.

Their great-grandmother's heartache is high in the sisters' minds as they travel across Queensland on the Anzac Troop Train re-enactment this week.

George Robbins joined Australia's war efforts in 1915 -- six months shy of his 20th birthday.

He died two years and 72 days later.

His family learnt of his death shortly after, but there was a long delay in his belongings being returned.

His devastated mother, seeking a small memento to remember her son by, decided to act.

"Dear sir, I hope you will take no offence at me writing but place yourself in my position, losing a son," she writes.

"I trust I am no bother to you sir, but heartbroken I would like something of his belongings."

The letter is treasured by the sisters.

"We never met her," MrsLawrance, from Degilbo, between Maryborough and Bundaberg, says.

"But she was a kindly person apparently, and well loved by her children. …

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