Farewell from a soldier

Name: Edward Mason
Date: 1916
Unit: 32nd Battalion, AIF
Location: France

When Edward Isaac Mason enlisted for World War I he lied about his age. Nothing unusual about that. Lots of young men added a year or two to join up.

But in Edward Mason's case it was different. He was already 45 years old, and declared he was younger than that.

He was the only Justice of the Peace in the Muchinson area of Western Australia where, with his brothers, he also owned gold mines.

During the war, being estranged from his wife, May Elizabeth Mason, he wrote letters to his 17-year-old son Hamblin, and several postcards to his sister Mary, who lived in Cannington, WA.

On 16 July 1916, as a private with the 32nd Battalion, AIF, he was in the trenches near Boulogne knowing that on the following day they would attack the German lines once more. He obviously felt that time was running out for him so took the opportunity of writing to his children one last time.

France, 16 July 1916

My dear Hamblin, Arthur & Dorothy,

Just a parting word as it is possible you may not hear from me again.

We are in the trenches and tomorrow our Battalion has been allotted the task of taking part of the Hun's trenches and no doubt through papers you have read have formed an opinion what that means, but only those who have been in this infernal machine can realize what it really is. The artillery is now, and has been for hours, pouring shells into their trenches in thousands, and when they have finished we have to charge with bayonets and hold the trenches.

I have had only two letters in France, one from Jessie and Aunty Mary, but it's months since I heard from you.

I have made a will in my pay book leaving your Mother my deferred pay which started on 18th November 1915, and of course there is the Will I left in my trunk with Aunty Lucy which she will send to you in the event of me going out, and she will be the first to hear. Also tell her for me that whatever ill feeling I bore towards her for the past has disappeared.

I wish you all long life and happiness and a successful career and to look after Dorothy and Arthur is the last wish of

Your loving father,

E.I. Mason

The next day Ted Mason was badly wounded by an exploding shell. Four days later, on 21 July, he died on No 17 Ambulance Train, near Lumbres Station, France. He was buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in plot VIII A 135.

The material for this article was supplied by Canning Districts Historical Society (Inc) in Western Australia and Mrs L. Chandl

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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Farewell from a soldier, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 9 December 2023, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories/australians-wartime/farewell-soldier
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