That’s the year I was born. Ida May, you were born in 2013 when I was seventy and Douglas you were born in 2021 when I was seventy eight. Now if I don’t stay around long enough to tell you all the stories I want to tell then you might need to rely on what I write down. My father, your great-grandfather, was also called Douglas but he had an extra “s” on the end just to be different – and he was different. And my mother, your great grandmother, was called Ida.
Ida Johnston was born in 1915 and she was the youngest of six children. This is a photo of the whole family with my mother in her mother’s arms and the whole family rather solemnly together as William, in his uniform, is about to set of to fight in the war in France.
Mum never knew really got to know her father, William, because he never came back. She was only 13 months old when her daddy died. The little boy on the right is Walter and he looks particularly sad about his father going away.
The sad fact of what happened to Ida’s father is summed up in the newspaper notice.
After the phrase “dearly loved husband of May Johnston” comes the word ‘officer. That can be confusing because it should have had a capital ‘O’ to start because it refers to the little country town 30 miles from Melbourne. It is now part of the vast metropolis of Melbourne.
And so May Johnston was left to bring up a family of six on her own. I don’t know exactly what happened to all of my aunts and uncles; I do know that Elsie became a nurse and William (Willie) became a lawyer and at one stage was the Deputy Crown Solicitor for the Commonwealth of Australia.
But back to the photograph and the little boy Walter who looks especially concerned. He is standing with his father and all the other children are over with their mother. I have always wondered about that because Walter grew up with them all but twenty five years later, in 1941, Walter went overseas to fight in the Second war. And he never returned. I will tell that story later but first I must tell you about the man who Ida married – my father. So stay tuned.
#2 about my father and the marriage.
#3 My Grandfather et al
#4 Uncle Walter and the battle of Bardia
#5 Going Bush.