WHEN Murray Hall’s mother Dorothy died in 2013 she left him a filing cabinet of family letters and documents.
In the cabinet Mr Hall, who is the SpeedDome vice chairman, found a folder of original letters written by his great uncle to his brother and parents.
One month before he turned 20 his great uncle Ernest Alfred Hall had joined the Australian Imperial Force went off to fight in World War I.
In September 1916 in a letter to his brother Wal he advised him to be in no hurry to join the war.
“I see you are still anxious to be over here but I advise you to be in no hurry – I’ve been in the firing line about five months now and I can say it’s not the game it’s cracked up to be – they try to kill over here, but we are all of the same opinion – if we are doomed nothing will save us, I’ve seen chaps come out of a bombardment that one would hardly think a mosquito could live in and then be bowled over by a chance shell – then again one of our chaps who sleeps in the same billet as I do when I’m out of the trenches was killed by a train last night and found this morning.’’
While with the 1st Australian Pioneer Battalion on October 4, 1917 in the Battle of Broodseinde Private Hall died when a German shell landed in front of him.
His brother enlisted a week before Pte Hall was killed in action.
Pte Hall was laid to rest in a war cemetery in the town of Ypres.
While writing and preserving his great uncle’s story Mr Hall has been on a journey of his own.
While doing his research he had the help of many people and institutions, including the Australian War Memorial museum.
The Passchendaele museum helped him locate three months of missing intelligence reports for the 2nd Australian tunnelling company, which is a big part of the book he has just published about his great uncle called Walk a War in my Shoes.
Mr Hall said when he inherited his great uncle’s letters the only thought he had was to preserve them by sending them to the Australian War Memorial museum.
“The furthest thing from my mind was doing anything with them,’’ he said.
But once he started reading the letters he would say to family “You should read this” and some would say he should do something with the letters.
As he did not have a military background if his great uncle mentioned a particular gun he would have to research it.
In some cases he was able to track down people who his great uncle wrote about in his letters by using the war memorial archive.
The war museum has digitalised versions of Australia’s daily intelligence reports so he was able to find out what his great uncle was doing on any one day.
Echo News has a copy of Walk a War in my Shoes to give away.
Email your name, suburb and a phone number to [email protected]
The book is available from [email protected] or good book stores.
By Anita McInnes