Letters home express feelings as wars end
Unit: 36th Btn AIF, RAAF
Two men from the same family who celebrated the end of wars 27 years apart, were both moved to write to their mothers expressing the joy and relief felt when peace finally came.
The father, Michael Samuel Levy served with A Company, 36th Battalion AIF in France and Belgium, and suffered from gassing.
His son, Harry Levy, served as a navigator with the RAAF attached to RAF units flying Sunderlands in Scotland and East Africa..
Writing on 12 November 1918, Michael Levy told his mother he was having a great time in Paris.
"By crickey I was lucky to be here when the Armistice was signed, you never saw or will ever see such a time," he wrote. "Perhaps you can imagine the excitement in a big city like this. The people went just crazy, tremendous crowds in all the streets, cafes and theatres. I wouldn't have missed the sight for any money."
"I was at the Folies last night. The Aussies took charge and we had a hell of a time, did not get home till morning. I have been down here 4 days and have been going all the time and am pretty tired so am having a quiet night and a good rest."
His relief at the end of war was evident but he had few regrets at taking part.
"Well dear Mother, so the war is over and thank God I have come through it safe and sound. I have endured many hardships and have had many narrow escapes but still I am glad I was game to come and will never regret having fought for you all because I know what would have happened to dear old Aussie and to all I love if we had not beaten the Hun, and it was every man's duty to face what we have and keep you all safe."
Michael clearly felt he had been watched over from above during the war.
"Well dear Mother it will not be so long now before we meet again and we must thank the Almighty for his goodness in watching over me and keeping the danger away because I am convinced that without this protection, I could never have survived the awful hardships and dangers which have been with me at times it seems to me that I have been guarded by some special Providence in a way which I can hardly understand.
"I can now look forward to the future with confidence because I know that he who brought me through all this trouble can carry me safely throughout all my life. I suppose some people will say that I have turned religious through fear but I can tell you dear Mother that it is not so. I always believed in the Devine Power but now I am sure about it as I have seen it at work on the battlefield. I think you will agree with me in what I say we must never forget to be thankful for the mercy we have received."
Twenty-seven years later, his son, Harry, was equally moved to put pen to paper. On 15 August 1945 he wrote from Egypt to his mother and brother Dave, his father having died in 1940.
"The first words I heard the words which woke me - in fact were - 'Well, it's really all over now'. And the first thoughts that entered my head were 'Thank you, oh thank you Dear Father' - and my heart was filled with joy for the families of those 17,000 brave Australians who were taken prisoner when Singapore treacherously fell."
He obviously had strong feelings about the Japanese atrocities during the war.
"How you must be celebrating in Australia. What stupendous news. And all in a week," he wrote . "The atomic bomb - then surrender for the most despicable of all human races, the yellow human-anthropoid, the Japanese."
Unlike his father, Harry was unable to immediately celebrate the end of the war.
"Out here in the desert there can be but little celebrating - we had a bonzer feed tonight and are to be issued with free bottles of beer & an issue of whisky & brandy. That's one misfortune of being T.T. - one never benefits from such free drinks as they never give free lime juice or lemonade.
"I always give my beer ration tickets, it's always rationed here, to some of the Aussies with whom I've picked up and shall thus dispose of my portion of the free liquid.
"I went for a wizard swim this arvo in the Great Bitter Lake; it was jolly fine - very warm, and very salty. I swam a good 800 yards and was quite fagged out. But it made a welcome change.
"No mail of course today and as the staff are having the two-day holiday I shan't receive any, if any there be, until Saturday. No doubt all security censorship will soon be abolished and I shall be able to tell you about my doings since I left you - shipping will be even scarcer so if I'm home by Xmas I'll be lucky."
Material for this article was supplied by Mr Harry Levy of the Australian Capital Territory