In the wake of Anzac Day, I thought that it would be fitting to publish a letter that was printed in a Mackay Newspaper years ago; the exact year is not clear. I found this cutting in a box that sat behind the cupboard doors. Perhaps my Great Grandfather knew Corporal Christiansen who was mortally wounded at Pozieres. Perhaps he kept it because it represents a universal story of the Great War. The letter was written to Corporal Christiansen’s parents from Mrs N. Morgan, 6 Springfield Rd, St. Leonards on Lee, England.
I hardly know how to begin my letter to you. By this time you will have had the sad news of your son’s death, and my wish in writing is, if possible, to give you a little comfort in your sorrow.
Perhaps they have told you how your boy fell in the big British advance, badly, very badly, wounded and was brought over to England with, alas, many others of our brave boys, and sent to Buchanan Hospital in this town. It is a sweet little place, where there are kind nurses and clever doctors and many friends, who love the soldiers and often visit them with fruit and other gifts.
Into this dear little place they brought your gallant son – a son of the Empire, who had offered himself for the honour of the Motherland and for right against wrong. He was dreadfully wounded – it is a wonder he lived to reach England, but God saw fit to call him home – his work on earth was done, and now he has heard the great ‘Well done’.
He was laid to rest in a lovely spot, with many of his wounded comrades from the other hospitals following, also many friends to show respect and gratitude to a brave soldier. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack and the Federal flag and heaps of beautiful wreaths of flowers. The Royal Sussex Regiment sent the bearers and a firing party to honour him and when the ‘Last Post’ was sounded I feel sure that many prayers were offered for his dear ones far away that our Father would comfort you in your sorrow.
I waited behind with a few others and arranged the flowers, and I gathered a few and sent them to you yesterday with a piece of ribbon off one of the wreaths, the one the Hospital Board sent, and also the card that was on the wreath sent by his comrades in Hospital. Surely it will be a little comfort to know he was laid to rest with much sympathy and the greatest respect, and my personal sympathy I offer to you and al his friends.
I saw a good deal of him, but, he was not able to talk much, but we gathered he had a father and mother and he was worrying because he had had no news for months. But, of course, with the German submarines sinking the boats the letters might easily be lost.
All did their best for him, and everyone was grieved that he was past saving his life. We cannot understand these things, but we must try and pray for strength to bear up. No one who had seen his sufferings could wish him to live. Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends, and surely now he wears the martyr’s crown, where all pain and sorrow and weeping is put away.
Goodbye dear friends, and may God bless you.