ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories

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WWI Stories – Austin and Clement McCallum


Jan Tucker shares her family connection to World War I.

Austin and Clement McCallum, first cousins to my mother Beryl McCallum, left from Ballarat and travelled on the HMAT Benalla Ship No A24 on 19th October 1914.

Austin, a rank private in the 8th Infantry Battalion, was killed in action aged 21 years on 1 May 1915 and is buried at Gallipoli 2 Redoubt Cemetery. Corporal Clement McCallum was killed at the age of 23 years on the 11 August 1918, and is buried in a War Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux, France.

My mother, Beryl McCallum was 1st cousin to Clem and Austin.

The War Memorial Record Department were wonderful in finding so much information for us when we visited, including all the details written in documents by their mates and the Officers regarding how they were killed.

Postcard from EgyptI have a postcard, written to my mother’s parents by Clement. It has a black and white photo on the front of the pyramids and it was written on the 17 January 1915 in pencil which unfortunately is fading.

“Dear May and Ezra, I suppose you think it is time I wrote you a few lines, well so do I and here they are hoping they will find you in the best of health as it leaves me at present. I suppose you have heard all the news from home so it is not necessary for me to write about it in this small space. I am pretty well sure that by the time you receive this card things will not be so tame in Egypt as they (are) at present as the Turks are supposed to be advancing on us then. We will have a chance of showing them what they send from Dear old Australia to fight for their King and Empire. Best Love from Clem.”

There was a postscript – “Give my love to Mr and Mrs Powell (my mother’s grandparents) also to Connie and the rest of the family”. What a treasure this letter is and how sad that both sons were killed. Mum told me how hard it was for the family to deal with such a tragedy.