100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week #18 – Prompts …lest we forget… in 103 words – “Ernie and My Dad”

08 Nov

The sound of the bugle in taps, the lowering of flags, the minute’s silence, then the sound of Reveille, I look at the faces gathered and wonder what thoughts they hold.

I remember the story of Great Uncle Ernie in 1916. A runner, a wrong direction given, a gunshot is heard. Somewhere in France he lies, unknown where.

Thoughts turn to my father in 1942, a soldier sent to Singapore. Surrender came. At war’s end he returned to love ones but suffered on.

The Ode of Remembrance is read.

The gathered chorus, “Lest we forget.”

“For Ernie and my dad,” I say quietly.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.


33 responses to “100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week #18 – Prompts …lest we forget… in 103 words – “Ernie and My Dad”

  1. Ross Mannell

    November 8, 2011 at 18:24

    The photo was taken at my town’s war memorial. The lake is in the background and opens up to the sea about a half kilometre to the left of the scene. We are a tourist town on the NSW south coast.

  2. Midlife Singlemum

    November 8, 2011 at 18:35

    This is a very moving post. For so many of us it just the unknown soldier and numbers on war memorials. How much more meaningful it must be to be at the ceremony for Ernie and Dad.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 8, 2011 at 18:53

      Thanks for the comment.

      My dad, we lost when I was 12. It was determined to have been as a result of the deprivations he’d suffered.

      Great Uncle Ernie was someone we’ve only learned of more recently. He had never been talked about openly as my Great Grandfather had always had trouble accepting the loss of one of his sons. Research told us more, with the help of a cousin who had his medals. The story of him is true.

      Ernie was a company runner. He and another were carrying messages along the lines. They had asked a sergeant where they should go. He mistakenly pointed them into no-man’s-land. German troops opened fire. Ernie was killed immediately but his mate made it to safety and was able to tell what happened. We don’t know where his remains are located.

      Now, I think of my dad and my Great Uncle Ernie.

  3. annahalford (@anhalf)

    November 8, 2011 at 20:48

    Very moving piece, particularly as it is about your own family. Too many have died in, and as a result of, wars. May the rest in peace.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 8, 2011 at 21:27

      Thank you for the comment and support.

      Losing my dad when I was 12 wasn’t the easiest time of my life yet he always use to point out many of his friends never made it back at all.

  4. ventahl

    November 8, 2011 at 21:23

    Haunting and profound. I’ll remember your piece on Sunday, Ross.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 8, 2011 at 21:30

      Thanks for the comment.

      ANZAC Day (April 25) and Remembrance Day (Nov.11) always meant so much to my father. I carry on his tradition of attending ceremonies. The final line in the story is real. 🙂

  5. Lisa Wields Words

    November 8, 2011 at 22:32

    This weeks entries are all so sad but beautiful.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 8, 2011 at 22:36

      Thank you for the comment.

      I agree about this week. I couldn’t make light or write fantasy about this topic so I turned to a more factual approach. Life isn’t always happy. That helps us appreciate the happy times even more.

  6. Taochild

    November 9, 2011 at 04:16

    What I hope to aim for yet I can’t find it! Poignant!

    • Ross Mannell

      November 10, 2011 at 07:33

      Thanks for the comment.

      The story is true so, rather than creative, it was retelling what happened.

  7. Alison Green

    November 9, 2011 at 04:27

    Lovely piece, good to have a real story. Thank you for telling us Ross.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 10, 2011 at 07:34

      Thanks for the comment.

      This is what I think of when attending Remembrance Day ceremonies.

  8. Dughall McCormick (@dughall)

    November 9, 2011 at 04:32

    A difficult week for 100WCGU. I am struggling a bit this week.

    I agree with others. A lovely piece Ross.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 10, 2011 at 07:35

      Thanks for the comment.

      Having some real experiences to write about made the task a little easier for me.

  9. Dave Gale

    November 9, 2011 at 06:32

    Very nicely done Ross.
    I’ve not tried a ‘real life’ approach myself yet.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 10, 2011 at 07:36

      Thanks for the comment.

      Real life isn’t my normal method but it suited the prompt in this case.

  10. joburns

    November 9, 2011 at 06:40

    Have a bit of a lump in my throat…..powerful piece.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 10, 2011 at 07:37

      Thanks for the comment.

      At 12 to lose my father and have it be determined his death was linked to his suffering as a P.O.W. in WWII can’t help but strengthen my feelings on Remembrance Day.

  11. Jasmine Dwyer

    November 10, 2011 at 11:58

    Humbled and reflective I sit here mesmerised by your word challenge.

    My pop was one of two POW’s in Changi when the atom bomb was dropped in WW2. He worked on the Thai/Burma Railway alongside Sir Weary Dunlop. His story is told in ‘Last Stop Nagasaki.’ He was 42kg and suffering maleria. Left for dead by his regiment he was fortunately saved by American Allies.

    Have you heard Adam Brand’s song ‘Stand for that Man we call the Anzac?’
    It is a perfect tribute to your family members.

    Jasmine Dwyer

    • Ross Mannell

      November 10, 2011 at 20:00

      Hi Jasmine,

      My father was also in Changi, although officially he was held in a place called Blackang Mati as the Japanese had moved some prisoners out to other area’s. I know when the Japanese first offered POWs the chance to get out of the camp and go elsewhere to work, many thought anything would be better than Changi. They were sent along the Burma Railway. After some time the officers in Changi became aware of the mistreatment being suffered along the railway.

      My dad wasn’t sent there.

      He and his mate, Andy, spent time on working details in Singapore and for a long time wouldn’t speak anything of what had happened and what they had seen. It was only after my father’s death we learned something of his time there through his mate who after return, ended up being my Uncle Andy as my father married his sister-in-law.

      When my dad died in 1967, I was 12. It was determined a major contributor to his health problems was the suffering during WWII in Changi. My mother was given and still gets a War Widow’s Pension. As a child I was helped by Legacy.

      I know of some soldiers who were sent to Japan, it may have been from “Last Stop Nagasaki”. They were there when the blast happened but, by chance, were shielded by a wall and spared the full blast only to survive and tell their tale.

      What impressed me most about my father was, he would tell us he didn’t hate the Japanese for what was done. He use to tell me they were as much victims of their then society as he was. This sort of example has probably been the most significant in making me accepting of so many varying people and cultures. It was part of his legacy to me.

      I have heard of Adam Brand but not that song. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Tomorrow (Friday, November 11) I will be at the town’s war memorial for the Remembrance Day Ceremony. I will add a thought for you pop and all those who were sent to work on the Burma Railway.

      Ross Mannell

      • Jasmine Dwyer

        November 11, 2011 at 15:52

        Hi Ross,
        I am fascinated by your stories and how similar they are to my pop’s story. He too did not hate the Japanese and this was a fine legacy for his children and grandchildren to have. In fact my brother is married to a Japanese woman and my Grandmother is so proud of the bridge made. She often comments, “If your pop were alive today, he’d be so proud.”

        At assembly today my class performed a shadow play of “postcards in the Mud” by Dianne Wolfer. It illustrates this interconnectedness both sides of war face so eloquently. You must read it!


      • Ross Mannell

        November 11, 2011 at 15:59

        Thanks Jasmine,

        We have some amazing people in our family backgrounds. They show us how much their input into our lives can influence our futures. 🙂


  12. Robin Hawke

    November 10, 2011 at 23:43

    Powerful, both the writing and the stories you tell about your family in the comments. Robin

    • Ross Mannell

      November 11, 2011 at 05:07

      Thanks for the comment.

      True stories are easier to write as there is no need for creativity. 🙂

  13. Sparks In Shadow

    November 11, 2011 at 06:56

    So many meaningful entries this week. This was quite powerful, too.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 11, 2011 at 07:21

      Thanks for the comment.

      With this week’s prompt, I knew there would be some great writing.

  14. jfb57

    November 14, 2011 at 03:37

    I’m reading this on Remembrance Sunday Ross so it is a very poignant piece. Many thanks for sharing such a family memory.

    • Ross Mannell

      November 14, 2011 at 20:28

      Thanks for the comment.

      The prompt deserved a factual story this time rather than my normal fictional approach.

  15. gsussex

    November 14, 2011 at 06:41

    Very moving Ross. I am sorry for your loss, there are not the words . . .
    Thinking of you and your family today

    • Ross Mannell

      November 14, 2011 at 20:44

      Thanks for the comment.

      For my father, ANZAC Day (April 25) was always a chance to meet with friends after the march through the city. In 1967, my mother took us by train into Sydney so we could watch him march. My younger brother was 7, I was 12 and my older brother was 15.

      On that day, it was the last time we would see him well as he marched by us waving. We returned home as dad would go to be with his friends for the afternoon. After a while, he wasn’t feeling well and went outside of the pub (bar) for air. He tried to get help but was ignored as many thought he was drunk. Finally, one stopped to help and he came home in a taxi. I had been out playing. When I returned, I found an ambulance there and our family doctor with him. He was taken to hospital.

      In the days before bypass surgery and heart transplant, the doctors did what they could. But he grew weaker in hospital after more heart attacks. Finally, on June 3, he died.

      I am normally always in attendance at Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day ceremonies to honour the memory of my father.

  16. HonieMummy (honieBuk)

    November 14, 2011 at 20:05

    This meme is all new to me and I fell across it looking At Susan Mann’s blog.

    I’m so touched by the sentiment in this weeks’s challenge.

    When I came across yours, I reached the last line and stifled a cry.

    Whenever I stand to hear the names called out in my Parish – 88 over two World Wars in a small part of my village alone – I shiver and can’t imagine the pain that the families had suffered from their loss and I am at a loss as to what those ‘young men’ went through in their last hours. We must never, ever forget!

    • Ross Mannell

      November 14, 2011 at 20:49

      Thanks for the comment.

      In the reply to the comment preceding yours, I explained the significance of Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day (April 25) for me. My experiences through personal contacts ensures I’ll not forget the sacrifices of so many.


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