In the early hours of 26 April, 1918, Sergeant Charlie Marlow set off to collect breakfast and deliver it to his platoon, positioned in the forward trenches at Buire-sur-l’Ancre. It had been a long night. Enemy artillery fire had fallen heavily along the railway line. After four days in the front line, the exhausted men of the 38th looked forward to their relief later that day. On his way Charlie spoke to his brother, Lieutenant Allan Marlow at company headquarters. He paused to chat with mates along the lines.
Between 5.30 am and 6.00 am, laden with breakfast for his men, Charlie picked his way through the network of trenches as he returned to the front line. He had just been warned to keep his head down, as a sniper was active in the area. The warning came too late.
Charlie had lost his life at the age of 26. He was never to hold his baby daughter and his wife was now just another young widow. Sarah and Charles Marlow had lost three sons to the relentless carnage of the Western Front. They did not have the opportunity to say goodbye, nor to grieve at a graveside. Jim, Allan and Percy had lost three brothers in nine months.
With a palpable sorrow which he struggles to express, Allan wrote to his brother Jim:
My Dear Jim, Well dear Jim it breaks my heart to write this letter. Our dear Charlie was killed yesterday morning at 5.30. The bullet killed him instantly and he never spoke a word. I had just left him and gone down the trench to see the other lads when I was called back. Oh Jim it is awful. He is buried in a nice cemetery a good way behind the line I attended the burial with a lot more. It is awful to think that poor old Charlie has gone now. Oh I do hope he is the last. What awful lot of trouble we have had in a few months. Jim I do hope you all bear it the best you can. It has broke me up properly. I am out of the line. It is awful losing 3 good lads like this but Jim you know someone must go. It is impossible for it to go on without somebody going. I am doing my best to get Percy home. Everybody tell me that it is a cert for one to go home so he can go. I am writing to heads in London. Jack Angus, MLA Angus’ son is doing a lot for me too.[i] I do hope it works. Jim I will tell you in a later letter where our dear Charlie is buried. I am having a nice cross put up over him like we had put over Geordie & Albert. Dear Jim he was buried with full military honors. Tell dear mum & dad to try and bear up as well as they can. As it worries me I was never so broken up in all my life but Jim you know we have to keep going. Well dear old boy I can’t write anymore so will close with best love to all.
Your Loving Brother
(Anzac Sons, 2014)
Presenting an author talk at a Probus Club is awesome, not because I’m sharing my writing journey … its the fascinating people I meet with so many amazing, often courageous life stories. Thank you Glasshouse Mountains Probus for your delightful hospitality.
I am so grateful for the amazing MGCLT 2017 gift of four weeks of precious time to work on my YA manuscript Follow After Me, to be published by Big Sky Publishing in 2019!
Applications for 2019 are now open:
Published authors or illustrators of at least one book for children or young people are invited to apply for “the gift of time”. The May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust provides delightful accommodation, local support, and travel to and from one of our three host cities – Adelaide, Canberra or Brisbane.
Click on the information provided under ‘creative time fellowships’.
N.B. This information is most effectively viewed on a computer screen rather than on phones or tablets.
For application details, contact Polly Hamer, Fellowships Coordinator: email@example.com
Completed applications must be received by 11.59 pm on Monday 30th April 2018.
Creative Kids Tales is an awesome resource for emerging authors and illustrators of children’s stories. I’m stoked to be featured there this week. Thanks CKT!
The Harper Effect is an outstanding debut YA novel set in the world of professional tennis. Caught in a love triangle (or, is that a love square …?), Harper Hunter has big decisions to make – choices that will impact her career as a player, her friendships, her sister and, ultimately, her entire family. This is an intriguing tale of young love, persistence and following your heart. Congratulations to the Sunshine Coast’s Taryn Bashford. The Harper Effect was many years in the making but, with persistence and belief, Taryn has served up an ace!
On October 4, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Australian divisions and the New Zealand Division advanced on the German stronghold of Broodseinde Ridge. It was the next step in the advance toward the village of Passchendaele. Allan and Percy Marlow went over the top with the 38th. Although the attack was described as “the most complete yet won”, the sacrifice had been great. The three Australian Divisions suffered 6500 casualties. Rain drenched the battlefield over the following week and the shelled ground turned to mud. Despite the conditions, the advance to Passchendaele continued. Allan and Percy clambered from the trenches; the objective of the 3rd Division was to take the village. No ground was captured. The Australians became bogged in the quagmire as the enemy troops fired down from the ridges. The Allied casualties were severe. Sixty-two percent of the men of the 38th Battalion who fought on that day were killed, wounded or missing. (Anzac Sons, 2015)
When my Grandpa, Allan, returned to Australia he built his own home using handmade bricks. He named it Passchendaele, scribed lovingly in stained glass above the front door. It was his own memorial to his three brothers and his mates. May we never forget.