Jack finally 'met' his father after 83 years

Name: Albert Henry  Fleetwood
Date: 1917
Unit: 46th Battalion AIF
Location: France

Jack Morgan was only six months old when his father, Private Albert Henry Fleetwood, died of wounds at the battle of Messines in June 1917, so he never knew him.

Jack grew up with his mother, Lilian, and stepfather, Harold, who treated him very well, according to his grandson, Mike Goodwin. Jack served in the New Guinea campaign in World War II and is still going strong, aged 83.

Throughout his life, Jack believed that all trace of his natural father had vanished - he was told that all records, photos, letters etc, had been lost.

So, when Mike Goodwin was organising a school overseas tour to World War I battlefields, his personal goal was to find his great grandfather's grave.

"Jack had few details to help me with my research. However, I was able to eventually find the burial details," Mike Goodwin said.

"On 27 September 1999, I found Albert's grave at Bailleul Communal Cemetery in northern France, and together with the group of students, paid my respects. It was an extremely emotional time and I photographed the grave so that my family (especially Jack) could have some memento of this brave man who had been lost to the family so many years ago."

On his return to Australia, the Sunday Mail newspaper in Brisbane ran a story about the tour.

"Whilst interviewing me, the journalist asked about any personal stories, so I told her about Albert and Jack. This was included in the story that was published," Mike said.

And here the story took a new and amazing twist.

"Two days later I received a letter from a stranger, Doug Moore, who lived in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane. He wrote that he had read the newspaper story and that he knew a great deal about Albert Fleetwood.

"I phoned him immediately," Mike said. "It turned out that Doug Moore is Albert's great nephew, and he told me over the phone that Albert's wartime records had not been lost - they had been passed on to his mother during the 1940s and had been sitting in his own garage for the past 30 years.

"By this time I was crying, as Doug had in his possession Albert's war medals, death plaque, shoulder badges, wedding photos and two magnificent original framed photos of Albert in uniform."

Over Christmas, Mike organised a visit to Doug's home for Jack and himself.

"It was a lovely meeting and Doug insisted that we take all the very special items that he had," Mike said. "I now have a photo of this once 'phantom' proudly hanging on my wall.

"I framed his war medals along with photos etc and presented these to Jack. For me, the most memorable part of this story was seeing my grandfather staring at the photo of his long dead father and saying, through tears, 'I'm 83 years old and I've finally met my father.'

"And to think this all came about because the one person in Australia who counted happened to read that article in the newspaper," Mike said.

The material for this article was supplied by Mike Goodwin from Queensland, great grandson of Albert Fleetwood

Last updated: 31 May 2019

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Jack finally 'met' his father after 83 years, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 14 August 2020, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories-service/australians-war-stories/jack-finally-met-his-father-after-83-years
Was this page helpful?